...in the comfort of your own home - with this Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Gold Edition (FSX). It can be fun, but you have to be willing to invest the time and effort to learn to fly the ...in the comfort of your own home - with this Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Gold Edition (FSX). It can be fun, but you have to be willing to invest the time and effort to learn to fly the virtual airplane. It is harder than Skyrim or Halo in orders of magnitude. Ariel Tweto famously said, "Flying is a lot harder than it looks." It is the same with flying virtual airplanes. There are 26 virtual airplanes to choose from - from the Piper J-3 Cub tail-dragger to the Boeing 747-400 airliner. I prefer the Cessna C172SP Skyhawk G1000. It has the state-of-the-art Garmin G1000 glass cockpit with a panel mount GPS display. After you learn to fly and land the virtual airplane and are itching to explore the sky, you must first learn navigation by GPS and/or VOR, or you are not going anywhere. In addition, there is ILS, which can nearly land the plane for you. You can fly to thousands of airports around the world. In Alaska alone, there are 416 airports accessible to the virtual airplane and you can choose 10 different weathers to fly in - from clear skies to major thunderstorm. In addition, you can specify the season and time of the day to fly in. Imagine the fun of flying a Cessna Skyhawk from Unalakleet to Deadhorse, Alaska in the dead of winter while trying to outrun a building storm. Even at noontime, it is twilight because the sun never rises much above the horizon. Flying this Microsoft Flight Simulator X in virtual Alaska is the closest thing most people can get to be a bush pilot, like those in the show Flying Wild Alaska.
Now onto the hardware: When I first install the FSX in my Dell Optiplex 745, I thought I was in good shape as far as hardware is concerned. My Dell 745 has an Intel Dual Core CPU running at 3.4 GHz with the XP Pro operation system. But the display of the FSX was so poor and the frame rate was so low that the game was virtually unplayable. The onboard graphics of the Dell 745 was configurated for business software, not for video games. I upgraded the graphics of the Dell with a EVGA video card (See note). It is one of the most powerful slot-powered video cards around. More powerful video cards require external power. I would have to upgrade the power supply of the Dell as well. I was not willing to do that. With the EVGA video card installed, the display and frame rate of the FSX are decent, although they are nowhere near the photographic realism of modern video games made for consoles. But the program crashed frequently when I set the display and the frame rate at maximum. I backed off a bit and the game now plays smoothly with only an occasional crash. Theoretically, one can play the FSX with only a keyboard and a mouse, but it is so clumsy it takes away all the joy of flying. I am using a Logitech ATK3 joystick. It works well. I am planning to upgrade to a CH Eclipse yoke which is more realistic for a Cessna. In conclusion, the Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Gold Edition is great fun if one is willing to invest the time and effort to learn the game. A fast computer with a decent video card helps a lot.
Note: EVGA GeForce GT 520 2048 MB DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 DVI/HDMI/VGA Graphics Card, 02G-P3-1529-KR