Flight Simulator fans rejoice, the new FS Global Ultimate Series has been completed. "The Americas" and "Europe/Africa" are shipping now and the last part of "Asia/Oceania" are shipping March 24th. For those unfamiliar, FS Global is a height map mesh for the world. Imagine the landscape as a grid and at every grid point, the ground gets pulled up or pushed down from sea level to the height of the ground at that location, forming a more accurate height model of the surface of the Earth, adding many levels of detail to the ground. It literally adds an immense amount of depth and realism to Flight Simulator.
As I've mentioned before, I am a big Flight Simulator X (FSX) fan and am quite familiar with the hardware dependencies of that platform and have built a beast of a machine to run FSX to the full tilt. Many are welcoming Microsoft Flight on less stringent hardware requirements alone, which should fly with better frame rates on lesser hardware and use DirectX 11, but will this be enough to enchant flight sim enthusiasts? Microsoft has decided to make the base platform of Microsoft Flight a free-to-play model. The profit will come from their premium plane and scenery add-ons.
You can download your very own free copy of the simulator from this link. The download is just a web installer file. The web installer file will then download the entire program, around 1.5 GB to your machine. It installs as a Games for Windows Marketplace game.
At least as of now Microsoft Flight is land locked in Hawaii, which compared to the Microsoft Simulators is extremely limited. One would hope these scenery add-ons will expand the options into the rest of the world. The only option you have in the free-to-play initial release is to fly a mission around some balloons in the default Icon A5 aircraft. If you stray too far or take to long they force you to start the mission over. This initial version feels too much like an arcade to me because of its mission orientated play and stripped down controls. No where in any of the options could I find a way to break free of the mission(s). You are very limited on planes and ATC at this point as well, disappointing.