Aviation games, especially flight simulator games have always been that little bit more special than other games. I think its mans fascination with flying, and the fact that most of us will never actually get into a plane and take control ourselves so I think these virtual worlds give us an opportunity to realize a dream.
What exactly is it though that has made these airplane games explode in popularity, I think the first thing is the advances in technology that have enabled your average user to buy higher specification computers so that they can run these huge file flight simulators.
The resources called upon to turn these basic aviation games into top games has also played a big part in their jump in popularity. One example is the use of Google maps and digital elevation models obtained from SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Missions) to recreate a virtual representation of our own world.
Below is a list of the other significant recent developments that have propelled these virtual flying games into the spotlight.
- Some aviation games are synchronized with real world time so if its dawn in New York it will dawn when you fly through virtual New York.
- The best games even have correct placement of the moon / stars and the sun for specific time and dates.
- Night flying in these games is a real treat with ground lighting concentrated over urban areas based on Google maps, you will even see car headlights on the busy motorways.
- Real life weather or customized weather conditions to suit your preferred experience.
- The ability to play games online against other simulator enthusiast – Try multi-player missions, free flying, air to air refueling or even experience being the air traffic controller for other online games
The aircraft in these aviation games have come on leaps and bounds as well, the top flight simulators will have planes that are realistically modeled with real word instrument behavior. It's not all plain sailing though or should I say Plane Flying ( sorry about that one ), If you want a realistic experience then you will have to deal with the real problems that can come with it:
- Instruments that lag in real life lag in the simulators, gyro drift is modeled correctly and the magnetic compass is subject to aircraft body forces
- Correct instrument representation for 50 – 100 planes
- Equipment and system failures are also very accurately represented.
- You can have a fully 3D interactive cockpit
Everything you need out of flight simulator aviation games is now at your finger tips, if you ever wondered what it would be like to fly over the great wall of China or the Pyramids then you should get yourself one. If you do invest in a flight sim I recommend investing to some hardware to enhance the experience ie
- Multi-screen – For the panoramic views to enhance the experience
- Rudder pedals
- Yokes / Controls
Please let me stress though that this hardware is by no means essential and you can thoroughly enjoy the game without them. This hardware can also be quite expensive as well if you consider buying most of it. I recommend first getting yourself a flight simulator and testing it out and see if you like it, you may find, like i did that you want to invest in the associated hardware.
There's something really special about being able to soar through the skies piloting your very own plane. Even though these are just simulators and you will actually be sitting at home, the advancement in graphics enables you to get completely immersed in the experience these flight sims offer.
One last thing i should mention and it is very important – Check that your home computer meets the system requirements of the aviation game you decide to buy. If you download one that claims to have to most detailed scenery ever and your computer is not up to spec then you've just wasted your money without you upgrade your system.
Check out the Aviation games (flight simulators) that I am currently playing that offers all the above and so much more, with basic system requirements at www.aviationgames.org . What I've mentioned above is only the tip of the iceberg.