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Flight Simulator 2004 - opinions?

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I got FS2004 today and just installed it but I haven't played it long enough to tell how good it is.So now that the new FS is out, what are your opinions on it? Improvements? Is FU3 still the best sim? ;) We're all FU3 fans here and have about the same ideas of what should be in a flight simulator, so it would be interesting to see what other FU3 fans think about FS2004.

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No, FU3 is not the best sim, and not the only sim either! But its my sim of choice - it has what I want and it feels right to me. Anyway, the FS series is becoming quite commercial - you get the basic package then you pay for this add-on and that add-on. I know most add-ons are still free but many of them aren't now. Eg. We get proper terrain wind effect for free - they have to buy a package with thermals in it for gliding. They sell British airport packs, LCA packs, etc. We give them away (mind you, given the size of the FU3 community, that's about the right price). And they don't have Stonehenge. Or logs. (they do? oh, sorry). I can fly long/short distances, in a range of planes too big to choose from (and already bigger than I ever had in FS98), in any weather, through volumetric clouds, talking with ATC, over the highest density photographic scenery (4 m/pix - FS is still less), with bush airports, major airports, rocky horror show airports, pan view, chase view, clear cockpits ...OK, I'm rambling already. I won't buy FS2004 because the effort to install it, upgrade it to FU3 standards, its poor quality generic scenery, learn new modelling techniques, be a small fish in a big pond etc is not worth it to me. And FS98 has cured me for ever of FS hype.But I'm not attacking the sim. Oh no.RobD.

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Well said, Mr Driscoll :-)I don't like the complexity of MSFS either....or the generic scenery textures. By the way, Naji posted some screenshots of the San Francisco Bay area in the Screenshots Forum, and he also said that this area now looks better than that in FU3. I suspect that this depends on what you term "good looking scenery". Yes, FS2004 has some impressive Autogen scenery, and great looking clouds, but I find it hard to believe that those generic textures will EVER look as good as the satellite mapped terrain in FU3.Any users of FS2004 like to comment ?Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Hi AllI have FS2002 and from what I have seen in mag reviews etc FS2004 doesn't look as though it has moved on a lot. (and I haven't got the hefty wodge...I only have FS2002 because Mrs Xmas was very nice!)I like FS2002 for some things and FU3 from others.I like FS2002 because there are many more planes available for it and they do look pretty but the latest FU3 planes from JonP equal them now.I don't like FS2002 because the ground is rubbish and so is the stalling and post stall manoevering.I think FS2002 ATC has the edge slightly on FU3 but there is still no "Tally ho! I gotcha traffic, ol' bean...can I drop the kite on the tarmac and head to the naffy now?" english banter bad RT talk on any - but I am not sure that is overly desirable.I think FS2002 is better for the big jets because you route to high altitudes and come down...better nav training and speed control.Also FS2002 has Helos...which I love...but can't fly! Shame the scenery couldn't be better to land on.FU3 is streets ahead on scenery ...and to be honest this is what has been one of the major aims of flight sims...believable scenery.FU3 is streets ahead on small plane handling and turbulence/buffetting rather than the simple clinical FS2002 flight model.FU3 I like because you can glide...I love gliding...is this the most skilful and natural way to fly? Just need a winch launch and thermals off black tarmac etc and this is done. I know FS2002 has gliders but stalling and feeling is part of gliding...and the stemme nicely avoided the takeoff issue....original FU had a tow plane...perhaps someone who is skilled in challenges or coding!!!Anyway I have played a demo of xplane which generates it's own flight models from the plan and they seem to be better than FU3 and FS2002- but xplane graphics and planes are simple and poor.Never touched Fly!....seems good, just never came my way. Should I really be getting a copy??Oh and I like FU the original because you could do proper snap rolls and spins....something that FU2 and 3 seemed to lose.....aerobatics is the last resort of the petrol head.Rob.

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Rob eloquently wrote:-"FU3 is streets ahead on scenery ...and to be honest this is what has been one of the major aims of flight sims...believable scenery.FU3 is streets ahead on small plane handling and turbulence/buffetting rather than the simple clinical FS2002 flight model."That last point also applies to flying ANY plane (large or small) at low speeds. FS2002 cannot handle the way I like to fly all of my planes. In FU3, I can fly the 747 (and any other plane for that matter) without touching the trim controls. Yes, most pilots would probably laugh at the idea, but the point I try to make (so many times that I have lost count), is that an aircraft COULD be flown in this way. You wouldn't get very far, and you certainly wouldn't get FAA approval for flying a 747 all over the place at 160 knots and 3000 feet, but it COULD be done (in an aerodynamic sense). I cannot do this in FS2002 with any degree of control "feel". The planes just bounce up and down, without showing any real sign that they are responding to control input.Some people suggest that this is because FU3 has rubbish flight models. Well, doesn't it seem odd that I can fly Ansgar's latest 747 using the above method ? I mean, the flight model has been tested and tweaked by a REAL 747 pilot ! Surely that counts for SOMETHING ? :-)I'm not saying that the flight models in FS2002 are rubbish when you attempt to fly "by the book". I suspect that the "lookup tables" are ONLY designed for this type of flight, and that's fine. Unfortunately, I do not fly "by the book", which is where a more realistic interpretation of aerodynamic rules come into play. I need my virtual planes to respond "based on the laws of physics". I need the planes to react based on aerodynamic calculations, not stat tables. That is how I control ALL of my simulations. That is why I love realistic handling and control characteristics in racing games like Rally Trophy and Grand Prix Legends, and why I hate most of the Need for Speed series ;-)Chris Low,ENGLAND.PS. I am not sure how FU3's flight models are created, but they seem to be better at simulating real world physics a lot better than in FS2002.

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The AVSIM review of FS2004 certainly does its best to convince everyone that FS2004 is a considerable improvement over FS2002, but this makes the lack of a demo all the more frustrating. After being disappointed time and again in the past with the MSFS series, "try before I buy" is a requirement, not just a desire.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Chris,On big planes the wings bend! (as they do on gliders, orignal FU did this).It's a shame they don't because I could build up extra energy in the 747's wings before the turn to "spring" it around the pylons sharper at the reno air races.....I've entered Vigin Atalatic's Penelope Pitstop in the air races.... if only the FAA could catch me.I leave out the big planes because I suspect that being big and requiring power assitance for control surfaces and fly by wire they are probably pretty clinical. (Lorry verses a lotus) Have to admit that because 747's are such a big petrol headache and difficult to park round town, I have decided not to get one. So I dunno...it is convincing and I haven't found anything that sticks out as unrealistic in Ansgar's super 747. I think FU3 has a good flight model. Trimming for good flight is one of those things you think is good because it simulates real flight or annoying because you just wanna fly. I tend to trim...but I leave the mix on auto!!! In a camel you have to fiddle with mix just to stay in the air ....left turn clyde! I think the FS2002 model is "adequate"....but I think the original FU may have been the best of the series...some compromises must have been made....Back to the 747 ...stall it on FS2002 an instead of one wing stalling first and dropping to one side they both stall together, always...if you are turning or trying a stall turn even...always always together...and then once stalled manovering out is imposible...the nose should drop...pick up speed ...control returns and give you a level chance...if you ae lucky you can power out..but the plane drops straight down...the shape and airfram do nothing to change its attitude while falling...the tail doesn't drag the back up and the nose down...the FS2002 is simply wrong...the plane just falls in the attitude it stalled in (usually just falls on it's belly)...anyone got a real one they could waste...I'll show you what a real on would do!I love GPL and for me it is the best driving game..I have rally championship and even the arcade CMR is good but then the car model is quite fun and rewarding.I wouldn't say I hate NFS but then I only have the demos...never bought one..arcade appeal for just a few laps after that I don't like it enough to warrent the

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Rob,Did you develop the "Lady Penelope" Virgin Atlantic colour scheme for Ansgar's existing 747 ? If so, will you be doing this for the NEW version when it is released ? I would really like this livery for my own personal 747 (the new Virgin Atlantic colour scheme is so much better than the old one), and apparently the winglets can now be textured, which means that those little flags can be done :-)Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Hi All,Well I got FS2002 3 days ago from a chap on E Bay, (It took 3 weeks of un answered emails to get him to send it!) My first impresion when I loaded it up yesterday was disapointment. Not to much difference from 98! really it hasnt changed much from the old C64 version. The grafics have improved with each release. If the improvements from the C64 to the present day are any thing to go by, I will not even consider FS2004. I think I will wait for FS 2008. FU3 is still the best. The feeling of real flying is there. If all the hardend MS FS pilots had a go with FU3 they would be amazed. If they saw Steve Hess's Cessna panel. Its 10 times better than MS FS's Cessna panel.Paul.......:-lol

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Oh man... I just spent 90 minutes on a long, detailed, write up on my thoughts on this matter... and the forum system ate it! :-grr I like FS04. I't doesn't replace FU3... but I do like it. :)I'll try to recreate my masterpiece later... after the chat... no time now. :-mad

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i have a flight unlimited (1,2,and3) background.have loved the series ever since the first day.after many hundreds of hours flying the fu series (with many wonderfull add-ons) i feel i have a pretty good knowledge of the series strengths and weakness'.i have flown the msfs series extensively from day one also.someone asked for an opinion of fs2004.i have logged 30+ hrs in this sim since recieving it early last week (from provantage.com).i run a p4 3.06, 1 gig ram, and have tried 3 gforce cards in these 30+ hrs. my old faithfull ti4600, a new 5200 128mg, a new 5600,256mg card.the 5200 functioned well but was lower on fps than either the 5600 or the 4600.the 4600 is still tops for me even with half the memory of the 5600.2004 ground textures are generally improved and much sharper2004 default planes (that i fly)(cub, 172, caravans,lear) are all vastly improved and i will be leaving all airfiles alone.2004 accurately models inflight air forces and the sensation of actual flight as NO sim has ever modeled them before (imho). i log a minimum of 10hrs per week in my (realworld) 1958 squaretail 172 and flying the default 172 through the air feels very similar to what i feel every day in the real world. 2002 didnt feel this way at all.turbulence is much better modeled also. fu3 did this very well also.i installed my favorite (freeware)2002 bush planes and all function perfectly, airfilesgaugesfloatplanesetc2004 terrain mesh (where i fly) is generally better imhofps is the same or better on my system(s) with more detail, as 2002the new clouds do not bother my system at all and are breathtakingthe new weather approximates fu3 weather (which is the standard imho) and is very pleasingi had no install problemsi have not personally encountered even one bug or glitch with 2004my son runs 2004 on an old p4 1.5 -768 mg- w/new gf5200 128 mg cardhe runs the good clouds/etc and get 12-15 fps avg and has had zero glitches/bugs/probsi spend most of my sim time bush flying in alaskathe rest based out of half delivering bodies in the caravanbtw, the default caravans (wheel and float) fly so well now that they have replaced my favorite beavers as my planes of choice.well, i could go on but i want to make another flight (in building storms) from palmer to valdez.the above are only my observations and are not meant to upset or criticize any others opinionshappy simming to alldon

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Don,I agree with everything you have said but would like to comment on:"2004 terrain mesh (where i fly) is generally better imho"I find the new mesh very realistic looking but not accurate. It pleasing to look at but I find little things like hills & ridges missing in action. However if I fly in areas I'm not familiar with it looks great. I plan to add scenry with mesh for those areas that I care about... starting with that new LA/SD "Megascenery" which I will put on order as soon as I finish this post.Thanks for you input!

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tomi forgot to mention the new gps' that come with the planes i fly. each is a masterpiece of functionality and light years ahead of the 2002 version. i know you've most likely enjoyed using them also.did we mention the new night lighting or the killer sunrise/sunsets?and like you say, the mesh misses a hill here and there. i only wish i could find mesh for my local area but none is ever available.have a great daydon

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It is good to see other FU3'ers enjoying FS2004 as much as I do.About the mesh, which area are you looking for, Don?

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najii am looking for mesh for the texas hill country (austin, etc)don

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Those who like gliding would be better off with FU3. The flight model is still basically the same, it feels slightly smoother and not as "bouncy" but still not as fluid as FU3. There's always addon files (free and payware) which improves the situation (e.g. Steve Small's Baron files or RealAir's Cessna 172 and 182 plus various payware aicraft).For doing touch 'n go's at the local airport or flying cross-country (mostly on autopilot anyway), the flight modelling is "good enough", though.I agree that FS is becomming too commercial. A few addons that used to be free for FS2002 are now payware for FS2004 (FSUIPC, Active Camera).I also find the planes a bit overpriced. I understand there's a lot of work involved in making a good FS200x plane with a virtual cockpit, good flight model etc, but $30-40 for a single plane is a bit expensive considering the actual sim (with several decent aircraft and worldwide scenery already included) costs $60-70.For those who like the helicopter in 2002 but can't fly it, there's a new helicopter in FS2004 which is alot easier to fly than the uncontrollable Jetranger III.Reviews are unfairly giving FS2004 credits for a lot of "firsts" that FU3 actually did several years ago.Some reviews claim that FS2004 is the first sim with good haze effects - I still like the FU3 haze better, and they also claim that FS2004 has the best weather effects. Sure the clouds and sky look good, but the wind effects and weather changes are more realistic in FU3. In FS, you can either download real weather, or choose from a very limited set of preset weather "themes". FU3 has a very flexible and dynamic weather simulation which can generate anything from hazy summer skies to thermals and ridge lift to nasty thunderstorms and anything in between.About the scenery. The generic textures themselves actually look better than FU3's blurry grey and brown city textures. However, FU3 is of course more accurate with a lot more detail. The default landclass for FS2004 over SFO and SEA looks about the same as it did in FS2002.To put it simply; I think FS2004 offers enough news for anyone who likes FS2002 to upgrade, but if you didn't like FS2002, you'll probably not like FS2004 either.

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I just purchased a few days back the West Coast and the Rockies 32-m mesh from FSGenesis. They are quite good and the price is now acceptable. Check their site for the package that covers Texas if you don't mind to buy it.Hope this helps.

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Hi Chris,The Virgin Atlantic scheme for the flyable 747 was mine (with some help from Ansgar). Circumstances at work have kept me from my personal projects and have prevented me from being an active poster here for the last few months. Hopefully that's all over now and I can resume something approaching normality, I'll find out when I go back to work tomorrow.In answer to your question though, I fully intend to do an updated version of the Virgin scheme. I'll probably end up doing a different aircraft in order to differentiate the two versions, but it'll be the new livery.Cheers,Rich.

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You mentioned reviews claiming firsts for FS2004 - of course reviewers did this with FS2002 as well - for a long time I kept a copy of the Computer Pilot review which was so glowing about FS2002 and its new features - I can't remember them all now but it included ATC, seaplanes, autogen scenery (how long have flight sims had autogen - at least since MicroProse used it in their sims) and about 10 other "novel" features, coupled with fairly poor quality generic scenery area photos showing the worst stretched graphic cliffs you could imagine. Don't misunderstand me - I don't want to be stuck with FU3 for ever - I do want to see substantial progress towards better realism. And I don't want the whole world modelled crudely, I would rather have a small area modelled well.The things that do frustrate me about FU3 are lack of colour range, and framerates (I still use a 500 MHz computer and can't upgrade in the near future). But even if I could see that FS had solved its basic problems (look-up table flight modelling, high price of add-ons, lack of glider support) and it has solved many recently (ATC, mesh terrain, volumetric clouds) I still would not be happy to switch, since I have invested much time and effort in making and adapting FU3 to my needs. And it does just what I need, extremely well. Just like Chris enjoys San Fran, I love the Cascades and the mountain regions there. RobD.

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Ah, the Cascades!Yeah, MSFS has a good mesh of Mt Rainier (dunno if it's standard) but...I won't go into the argument here. I have a neighbour who bought 2002 before realising his 366MHz Celeron wouldn't cop it. I tried it out but it felt like a heavy-duty FS98. My then-current video card (GE2MX) worked OK but I found it wanting for 'feel'.Besides, I was just getting into doing new stuff for FU3 and wanted to keep the momentum up! This has paid off I believe. There's at least one comment here about how my aircraft look as good or better than some 2002 planes. I did this to prove that FU3 already had this ability - in 1998 :-beerchug Sure, we don't have the latest 3D engine, but the one we have ain't bad ;)Speaking of new planes, I also read here some comments about gliding. Well, we have a new, un-powered glider coming (Blanik L-13) with another (ASW28) coming soon after. These gliders are setup for a 'winch' launch or you can just 'page up' to where you want to be. If you thought the Stemme was nice to glide, try this! I will post some shots this week and will post the pre-beta out to any interested parties before I release it through Avsim.:-waveJon Point*************************(effyouthree@hotmail.com)*************************

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Robert,One reason for my current upgrading of the small airfields in the Seattle region was to increase my enjoyment of flying in this region. I am still more interested in the SanFran region (simply because I have ALWAYS been fascinated by this area), but now I can look forward to flying in and out of "slightly" more interesting airfields in the Seattle region. I haven't done this yet (I've been too busy building the damn things), but I know that my desire to do this has increased considerably.Chris Low,ENGLAND.PS. I should be able to complete the runway and parking area upgrades this week. Final "trimming" (adding other objects and stuff) will then be all that is required. Most of this should be very straightforward, although getting the sections of fencing to join convincingly will probably be the most time consuming work.It is also worth pointing out here that 95 per cent of the upgrade work has been done in the Seattle region. Only three airfields have been modified in the SanFran region, and the other modifications are mostly just tweaks and minor upgrades. I hope to be able to add a new scenery package (Infineon Raceway), but that isn't a top priority at the moment. I will need to have a look at this to decide what I am going to include in this package. Gimmicky stuff like racing vehicles on the track is NOT what I have in mind :-)

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Yeah, Avsim seems to have made another software change or something... it's just not working well for me here. My favorite view of the forum keeps changing each time I get here and for some odd reason, I now have to sign in each time even though I check the "keep me signed in" button.Oh, and my "Back/forward" page control in my browser no longer works with Avsim....but still works with all other sites. ??BTW, I don't have FS04 yet and not sure if I will or not... however I do use FS02 and get enjoyment out of it. (which is the whole idea of simming IMO) Sure, many things could be improved but I just HAVE to be able to fly in other parts of the world outside FU3 now and then.

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I wish I had spare money like you rich lot! Fancy being able to just go out and buy FS 2004. I will have to save up and just when I get enough pennys together....the washing machine will blow up or the car will want a tyre or a road hump will claim yet another coil spring!Paul...........UK.

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Stag,Don't let them kid you... FS04 is a major improvement over FS02... first version I have really found to be a joy to fly since 5.1... or maybe FS95. The new mesh is the main thing but the weather and other things come into it too. Also it loads in about 20% the time of 02... and flights load much faster too. Textures also load much quicker which does add to a feeling of realism.Of course if you want real scenery as opposed to realistic scenery there is always FU3. :)Pretty fancy rig you made for GPL_Bert... I'm definately jealous! ;-)

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