AVSIM Commercial Simulation Review

Microflight  

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Rating Guide


Sightseeing in San Francisco


The Main Menu

Publisher: Ilan Papini
Description:
A unique simulator focusing on light means of flight such as paragliding, gliders and microlights
Download Size:
3.70MB
Format:
Executable
Simulation Type:
Hangsim
Reviewed by: Liam Coyle, AVSIM Library Reviewer

Possible Commercial Rating Score: 1 to 5 stars with
5 stars being exceptional

Most of you are probably at this stage asking yourself what on earth microflight is and who makes it?? Microflight is a sim that focuses on the lighter and cheaper side of aviation that are microlights, parasails, and of course gliders. It isn't just some new kid on the block as it has a history behind it. It was preceded by Hangsim, released way back in 1998, and published later in '99, by non-other than Wilco themselves. Direction changed slightly when Virtual Sailor was also released in '99.

Microflight has seen the work done by Ilan Papini take a return to the field of aviation when it was first released in December of 2000. He is the individual responsible for all three sims. Ilan is an aeronautical engineer with an extensive experience both in aeronautics and in software development, and saw that there were no sims that dealt with hang gliders and the light aircraft that he was involved in, so decided to take it upon himself and develop his own, Micro Flight being the end result.

Please Note: A number of aircraft and sceneries featured in the screenshots are not Micro Flight defaults but rather are add-ons available freely from the Micro Flight homepage.

Reader Survey

This survey is intended for those that have used this product or add-on. If you have used it, please let your fellow simulation enthusiasts know how you rate it by taking this survey. Please, if you have not used this product, do not take this poll (you can view the poll from the "Results" link below).

- Review Poll -
Have you used Microflight?

Excellent
Good
Average
I can live with it
Taking it off my system


Results

What's it all about then?

I have FS2000, why would I want this? When we think of the likes of FS2000, images of Jumbo's, 737's and F-15s immediately spring to mind. What sometimes can be overlooked is that there is quite an appreciable segment of the simming community have no interest in the latest airliner or flying at 33 000ft. These are the people who like the low and slow, and more often than not you'll find them in Beavers and Cubs frequenting the likes of Alaska. These are also the kind of people that will have downloaded the quirky Hang Gliders and Parachutists from Captain Slug. This is all very well, but unfortunately FS2000 and others aren't geared towards the ultra light aviation models.

In steps Microflight; this is exactly what its been engineered to do. The designer has done quite well I feel too; surprisingly it is quite tight and highly enjoyable. Hangsim is a great little sim that can hold its head up high in this world of FU3, FS2000, and Fly! It doesn't pretend to be anything that it's not and does exactly what it says on the tin, whether you like that or not is another thing.

Whats included?

Straight out of the box Microflight is bulging quite nicely, with a standard glider, a Porsche!!?, a light engined glider, two microlights and an unpowered glider, the likes that your similar too with FS2000. The only real thing lacking is another scenery area as you just get the one; others are available from the website for free download.

When you fire up Microflight first, perhaps the first thing that'll strike you is the graphics, they're not half bad at all! Indeed it's a nice surprise and gets us off to a nice start. For all those people who might be seeing the trend in FS2000 for photoreal scenery, Microflight uses this as a default. This is a very effective system and graces the sim with some pleasant eye candy. Unfortunately though it does have a drawback, if you fly to an area where the terrain or textures change rapidly, the texture lines can sometimes be clearly seen and stick out like a sore thumb. This isn't as bad as it might at first seem when you realize that FS2000 suffers from the same problem, not bad for one developer to do so here.

If anything were to come in for a major criticism in Microflight it must be the sound, it's too plain and repetitive. In the case of the microlights, engine sounds are either on or off and seem to be very harsh, perhaps too much so. If your are in an unpowered craft all you are going to hear is the wind, and this just doesn't seem quite right either; it's not horrendous, but just seems a tad 'flat'.

Test System

PIII 500 MHz
Windows ME
128 Megs RAM
ATI Rage Fury 32MB
32X DVD CD ROM
Sound Blaster Live Value
Logitech Wingman Digital 3D
17" Monitor

Flying Time:
16 hours over 15 days



Flying low and slow


A typical virtual cockpit


Inspecting the Grand Canyon, closely!


Nice perspective


A paraglider


The dead sea, no less


Nicely rendered


Taking in Cyprus

One thing to remember is that you're flying very light aircraft and the controls reflect that, without any letup. You have to treat the aircraft gently otherwise you might find yourself in a downward spiral very quickly indeed. This is something that I found difficult at first to grasp; you take things slow and easy. If you thought flying a 152 in FS2000 was a slow business wait till you try this!!! Its nice though and a welcome change, and tremendously relaxing, I can't stress that enough. Microlights are as bare and basic as it gets and soaring alongside mountains in an unpowered aircraft looking for thermals will sooth away all that stress that we seem to experience more often these days.

Now I know what your thinking, there's a glider in FS2000, but I don't use it as I can never find those damn thermals. Fortunately Ilan has thought of people like you (and me) in that he has included the thermals visually, so finding them is no problem—keeping the aircraft flying becomes your main concern.

Included by default, and with many of the add-ons, are flights that are accessed via a menu similar to that of FS2000. These place you in various locations and situations with tasks to be completed. One of the more unusual things about Microflight is that a secondary feature is included, that of a Porsche (Spyder I think). There are various roads in the sim and should you choose, you can drive the Porsche or other add-ons along these roads taking in the scenery from a different perspective.

Aircraft and Add-ons

The aircraft in Microflight are rendered very nicely indeed, and are not as basic as one might assume. If your developing aircraft add-ons they use the 3D Studio Max format, a wise choice on the developers part. 3DS is the premiere 3D modeling tool and has a widespread and popular community. So in theory there should be a wealth of add-on aircraft for the sim as it grows.

There are 3 views in the aircraft, virtual cockpit which is fully 3D with moving parts, chase plane, and a drop camera. The drop camera is not terribly practical, but my favorite way to have fun, as used in conjunction with the Zoom keys it gives a great sense of perspective.

The chase camera has to come in for some criticism—it's fixed, and doesn't 'follow your plane' as you'd be used to with other sims. It's not a major drawback, just slightly annoying.

Already there are a wealth of add-ons available from the website; aircraft, ranging from WW1 bi-planes to a bicycle!!! Yes you read that right folks! There are several add-on sceneries available too, my personal favorite being the Grand Canyon Scenery. All these are small in size, ranging from just over a 100KB for the bicycle, to 2.87MB for the Dead Sea scenery. Installing these add-ons couldn't be easier as you just pop them in the Micro Flight directory and double click to install; they go in as easy as that. No scenery cfg's to tinker with.

One area that must be praised is Ilan's encouragement to developers looking to create for the sim. He has provided on the site plenty of documentation that goes into great detail, with numerous examples. Already his openness has paid dividends with numerous add-ons from the Microflight community. Also one feature that I loved was how the folk in the parasails or hang-gliders shifted their weight as you maneuvered—attention to detail!

To Summarize

You've heard me praise Microflight no end. Have I gone off FS2000 etc.?? Not at all. The reason I have such high praise for MF is that it does what it says – no more, no less – and it does it very well. It's different, it's quirky and it's original. You've heard about the pioneering days of aviation as exciting and a new form of transport, and in a way Microflight is similar. How on earth you're saying? It's one sim, developed by one dedicated individual who has given it a good stab, and I believe it has paid off. Flying a simulation is supposed to be fun, and this is something that MF has in bucket loads. Choice is something that not everyone has, and those that do sometimes take it for granted—MF gives us a new choice when we're looking for something different. You can visit the site by clicking here.

 

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A nice sunset
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Gliding high up

 

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Gliding high up

 


What I Like About Microflight
  • Fun, fun, fun
  • The open ended nature of the game
  • It gives you a chance to fly in the barest form of aviation

 
What I Don't Like About Microflight
  • The sounds could definitely be better
  • The camera in chase view is fixed, and doesn't 'stick with' your aircraft


 

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment. This disclaimer is posted here in order provide you with background information on the reviewer and connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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