Today, Microsoft announced the Spring launch of Microsoft Flight, the continuation of the Flight Simulator franchise, or as they put it, "bringing a new perspective" to the long-standing series.
Microsoft Flight Simulator, whether you call it a game or a tutorial program, is one of the most recognizable programs from the last few decades of PCs. It has been through numerous alterations and been updated a dozen or so times, but Microsoft Flight is apparently going to revamp the franchise more than any previous version.
According to Microsoft, here's the mindset with which they built the new game:
With “Microsoft Flight” we’re approaching the virtual flight genre from the ground up, with the focus on the universal appeal of the experience of Flight. We believe the simplicity of “Microsoft Flight” perfectly captures that vision while welcoming the millions of existing Flight Simulator fans. The new “Microsoft Flight” retains the full fidelity simulation longtime fans have come to expect while offering all players a whole new look and feel, a wide range of new game play and challenges, persistent experiences and social connectivity.
They announced Microsoft Flight back in 2010, and today Microsoft says that the game will be available as a free download this Spring. Players will fly over Hawaii in an ICON A5, completing challenges and finding hidden "aerocaches." The ICON A5 is designed by the engineers behind the Voyager and is referred to as the "jet ski for the skies." Virtual pilots will have the chance to fly it before it even enters real-world production (slated for the end of 2012).
The game will fit the free-to-play model, charging players for things like additional challenges, planes and "maps" to fly over.
Flight will also feature Games for Windows - LIVE capabilities that allow for global multiplayer, automatic content updates, and achievements
“Many people dream of flying, but few have the chance to experience the fun of exploring the world from above. Microsoft Flight provides players the opportunity to explore that curiosity and interest,” said Joshua Howard, executive producer of Microsoft Flight. “Aviation can be incredibly technical, but we’ve taken great care to build an experience that makes taking to the skies thrilling and accessible for everyone.”
It looks like Microsoft wants to keep the basic feel and difficulty level for seasoned veterans of the series but also make it more accessible to folks that simply want to fly around.
Good, because all I can remember about Flight Simulator is crashing.