Aerofly FS is a new entry in the Aerofly series of flight simulator games developed by IPACS. You take control of a number of planes including a jet, gliders, a world war one fighter and a standard four-seater private plane across Switzerland.
Flight simulators as of late have had a bit of a rocky time. I’m not hugely versed in the genre but I was a big fan of the Microsoft flight simulator series and was at a loss when it was announced there would be no more titles in the franchise a few years back, then brought back with a casual and free-to-play take on the franchise in Microsoft flight. Then they announced that there would be no more new content for that game. It was sad times for fans of that franchise, including me. So I was pretty happy to have heard about Aerofly FS and was very excited about checking it out to see if it can capture that love I had for the Microsoft games.
The aircraft all feel very unique, handle very well and are fun to fly in. There are three separate settings in terms of simulation level to set how you want to play the game. Obviously the first is for casual players, the third is for hardcore players and the middle is a happy medium between the two. I think this is usually a really difficult part of flight simulators to get right. You have to appeal to the hardcore simulator audience who have played these sorts of games for years but you can’t alienate new players that may consider making Aerofly FS their first flight simulator title. I think IPACS have been spot on in accomplishing this task. Unfortunately, I don’t know what it feels like to fly an actual plane, sad times for me I know, but the top simulation setting in-game balances the difficulty and enjoyment level very well where the bottom setting just lets you have a fun time flying around the map.
And that map is really something. It is absolutely huge. 16,000sq/m of Switzerland to explore including a couple dozen named airports and mountains. You can fly to the Matterhorn and check out the view or check how Geneva is doing. The sheer size of the map is definitely something to be applauded even if it does come at the cost of graphical quality.
The graphical fidelity of the game is up and down. The aircraft all look really good, they all have cockpits which also look excellent. So much so that in some of the aircraft you can see the instruments reflected in the canopy and I think it just looks amazing. The main problem with the graphics is not what’s in the air but what’s on the ground. Some of the ground textures are just plain hideous as are some of the mountains. There are 3D models of houses and other buildings throughout the map but they are also interspersed with buildings that are just textured onto the ground and it can be very jarring. Overall though this is a fairly small complaint since very little of your time in the game is spent on or near the ground.
The options in how you fly are vast. As I said before there are a couple dozen airports you can choose to take-off from or you can begin your flight airborne if you wish. You have all of Switzerland to explore at your leisure and you can set-up the flight conditions in a few cool ways with the ability to increase or decrease the level of fog and change the speed and direction of the wind. There are also thirty-five challenges in the game that serve somewhat as a tutorial for the different types of aircraft. The first few challenges let you play on the casual simulation settings but the later ones put you into the hardest setting so be prepared to learn how to fly an F-18 in a video game. It’s mostly flying through hoops and learning how to take off and land in each aircraft type and the last few are stunt challenges asking you to perform barrel rolls (true barrel rolls. Damn you Peppy and your lies), loops and other airborne manoeuvres. My only problem is that you can blast through all of the challenges in about three-to-five hours and other than those, free flight is your only other way to play the game. I can’t see new fans of the genre being too enamoured with the lack of direction the free flight entails but I imagine the flight sim enthusiasts will still have a blast in free flight.
Aerofly FS is a really nice package that I think can appeal to both fans of the genre and new adopters alike. IPACS have done a really decent job here of making a good flight sim available to a wider audience, I only wish they were able to add more content to the package.