Microsoft Flight Simulator 98

Not half bad an update package from Microsoft.

The most striking addition to Flight Simulator ’98 is support for Direct3D, MMX, and force feedback joystick systems. With a dedicated 3D card, frame rates and details are much improved over past versions. With it, you get great frame rates, clean runway edges, wispy clouds and a much less pixelated ground (the terrain model, however, is pretty much the same as before). The sea becomes smooth with much less flickering from the landscape.

1_1Another superb change is the new flight modeling. Now, you can do accurate snap rolls and the airplanes feel right to fly. The Extra 300 aerobatics airplane now rolls correctly and is extremely sensitive, yet incredibly positive, on the controls. The Cessna 182s are now (correctly) more stable. Microsoft has added the Bell 206 helicopter, which is easily the most entertaining addition, and (for awhile) counted FS98 as having one of the most accurate chopper flight modelling out there. But flying the Bell is very tricky business, a bit like balancing a ball on the head of a pin.

New sounds have been added; for example, the glider now has the correct roaring sound (they are louder than you might think). All sounds are reworked and are fantastic. The sound of the helicopter scraping along the tarmac is especially nice. Microsoft has added or includes many other features as well. You can now fly to 3000 airports and 45 cities, further extending the appeal of this simulator. The radio stack is now separate and can be given its own window, freeing up a lot of fiddling when flying.

The only real letdown here is the skimpy manual. This is for a simulator that requires players to master a lot of detail to play effectively. Instead the bulk of information is included in the ingame manual, which is a tad odd to comb through while flying, but at least it’s there. Other than that, FS98 is a good deal, and as updates for the series go it’s a definitive advancement.

System Requirements: 80486DX2 66 MHz, 8 MB RAM, Windows 95 / NT

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