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Miscellaneous FlightSim Talk by Peter James

with acknowledgements to Peter James and www.flightsim.com

Recently, so many people keep asking me, what is better - FS2000, FLY! or X-Plane? I tell them, Flight Unlimited III ! But, since so few of you can find it (hint, I am still angry), I certainly must admit to telling those who write me, all of them. [Peter was the Lead Designer of Flight Unlimited III, but Looking Glass Studios, the company who marketed FUIII, have now unfortunately gone out of business.] Each one is better for a different reason, and suits each person differently. Most people want an "all in one" sim, and that is impossible. Most diehard simmers like myself use all three sims about equally.  What's $150 or so spent on three sims that will give you years of fun and experience? A real bargain. However, people still like to know exactly which one they should get first, or last, and usually this depends on a recent or planned hardware upgrade. I'll make this fairly short and easy, if you're in the same quandary.

FS2000 - could be the best of all, and serve purposes through the entire range of fun, student pilot training and more - if the motion quality was smoother, and less interrupted by stutters and image loading. This is just poor programming. To run FS2000 at blazingly fast speeds, in order to get a perfect feel of flight, you'd need a PIII850 or greater. I have not seen FS2000 on one, but certainly won't say FS2000 runs really well on my PIII500. In addition, the interface of FS2000 is not so easy, and many hours of configuring is needed to get performance and flight qualitites acceptable. Its open design allows for unlimited downloads of new aircraft, sounds and instrument panels. In some cases this is bad, perhaps the new student pilot just wants to get into a new plane and fly it. In FS2000, this can't be done quickly, without fiddling for days, trying to get things right. However, FS2000 features the best scenery of any sim.

flyscreen.jpg (12231 bytes)FLY! - is my pick for #1 if you're a real pilot or student pilot, needing to learn the exact systems and panel functions of a late model Cessna 172.

Experienced real pilots will enjoy FLY! for the systems-rich environment and IFR weather rendering. I find FLY! much more useful in learning advanced aircraft systems and getting used to using real checklists and performing the busy duties of a real flight. It is the only sim that resembles the workload of a complex cockpit, along with the full visual high res graphics. Flight modelling is excellent as well, but again, you've got to see the full cockpits to believe it!  FLY! would be the best, if the weather was as good as X-Plane, because frame rates are better than FS2000.

X-Plane - truly has something for everyone. If slightly limiting visual AirbusClimboutXplane.jpg (52319 bytes) scenery and some generic panels are okay for you, then the smoothest frame rates and best flight modelling of all the sims, will really wow you!

In addition, X-Plane features the best variable weather, settable weather and violent weather, of any flightsim. X-Plane has the best thunderstorms and will teach you better than any other sim about the dangers of windshear, microbursts and proper avoidance. In addition, icing, slick runways and system failures will challenge you. If this sim had the systems and panels of FLY!, and the scenery of FS2000, it would be the best.

There you go, it's impossible to pick just one! You CAN'T! Enjoy them all, get them all, and use them all equally. You'll be glad you do.  However, if you do have a machine that is limited in performance I would recommend only X-Plane, if you are on anything less than a PIII500.  FLY! will run well on a PIII500 but FS2000 only on faster machines, with lots of ram, to break the 20 fps barrier!

 

ModelFlight is keen to hear from you if you have any contributions to make on the subject of flight simulation - whether the mainstream 'games' or the dedicated r/c model versions. My favourite sim remains FS2000, hence the fact that it features so much on this page, but it would be really good to have items on some of the others.