Afraid to fly? No problem. Microsoft's Flight Simulator, one of the oldest simulation games around, will take you flying anywhere in the world in just about any type of plane you can think of.
The year was 1982 when the first flight simulator came out. It was version 1.0. Graphically, it was quite simple, but it did give the user a chance to fly a real plane. In the early editions they used vector graphics, so the view from the cockpit was pretty much left to your imagination.
As the game progressed, however, the graphics became more real. If you took a plane ride over New York, you would see a skyline that was letter perfect to what you would actually see if you were flying over New York in a real plane. But the transition from version 1.0 to Flight Simulator 2002 was a slow and gradual one.
In version 2.0 they finally added duel support for both a mouse and a joystick. Version 1.0 was mouse only. Plus, the simulator became more popular and versions were released on a number of game platforms.
It was not until version 3.0 that the flight simulator went to Windows. This was in 1988. The game featured the first multiple windows that you could resize. It also featured 3D windows and panels.
In 1989, Flight Simulator came out with version 4.0. There was not a huge difference between this version and 3.0 but the scenery was more detailed. The bridges, roads and buildings looked a lot better than in the earlier version. This version also created a demand for add-on products to the game by outside vendors.
In 1993, they came out with version 5.0. More than 30,000 hours of development went into this version and it showed. It was the first game with photorealistic scenery and a map of the whole world. You could travel from New York to Paris in real time. This was a major breakthrough in the history of the game. With 5.1, the ability to handle scenic libraries was added. Also, weather was added to the game such as storms. This was done in 1995.
Windows 95, which came out in 1996, was the first game in the series available for that windows platform. More planes were added, such as the Boeing 737. Photorealistic satellite imaging was added to this version as well. Plus, flying lessons were added so you could be flying in a matter of minutes. It was the easier simulator to date.
Flight Simulator 98 added 10 times the number of airports than in the previous version so you could take off from virtually anywhere in the world. More planes were added and the graphics became even more realistic. It did not seem like the game could get any better.
But then Flight Simulator 2000 came out. Four new planes were added. Thousand more airports were added. Navigation was greatly improved. Graphics were improved. The control panels were more detailed. Just trying to figure out the controls for a Boeing 777 was a challenge. Yes, 2000 was even better than 98.
But they did not stop there. Flight Simulator 2002 was to be the best yet. The working instruments were more lifelike. Buildings became so lifelike that it was scary. New planes were added, including the first float plane. Real time interactive air traffic control was added.
If you have not had the pleasure of trying Flight Simulator, now may be the best time of all.