It’s been a few weeks since I delivered my first hands-on impressions of Dovetail Games Flight School, and now the game has been released, it’s about time I delivered a Verdict on it. Please keep in mind that I am approaching this Verdict from the point of view of a casual sim-er.
The first thing that I want to say about Flight School, is that I’m not sure who the target audience is. It is an introduction to flight simulators, and is something of a prelude to the fully featured Dovetail Games Flight Simulator that should be releasing later this year. With two planes as standard (the Piper PA-18 Super Cub and Piper PA-28 Cherokee), and a third (the Diamond DA42) coming along as free post-launch content for those who didn’t pre-order, you won’t be getting behind the stick of any 747s or A380s here. There are missions to complete, but with only 9 present, they won’t tax experienced pilots for too long, while newcomers will know whether this is the game for them after completing some of the extensive tutorial lessons.
The relatively small amount of content leaves me pondering why any dedicated fliers would move on from Microsfot Flight Simulator X for this, knowing a meatier package will come later this year. Then for those who might want to get involved in flight simulators, they will be paying out for Flight School (admittedly, at a budget £11.99), then forking out again for the full simulator if they really do enjoy it. If it is being treated as a demo, it seems pretty expensive. Certainly then, it is worth considering whether this is what you want, or if you want to wait and try things out with the full package. If there was a discount on the full simulator for those who own Flight School, that would be interesting and might make this more appealing to newcomers.
If you do want to get into Flight School, at the very least, it will give you a good grounding for the basics of flying some of the smaller planes that are commonly found in flight sims. The tutorials are in-depth and will cover most situations you will encounter in the Free Flight mode and the missions. They can be frustrating; some of the tolerances for making a mistake are very slight, and for a beginner, they don’t always do a great job of telling you where things have gone wrong and how to correct them. These issues aren’t as severe as when I talked about them in my preview, but it can be frustrating to fail a tutorial when you think you have done everything correctly. It is definitely worth reading the manual to get a feeling for the keyboard and mouse controlled cockpit controls. Trying to fly solely with a Xbox 360 pad will leave you wondering why the tutor keeps telling you off. If I had a joystick setup, I get the impression that everything would have come much easier.
The Free Flight mode is perhaps the highlight of this package as you can choose a flight path across vast swathes of the globe. I’ve taken journeys in my native Welsh valleys, flown over Austrian mountain ranges, explored parts of India and even flown under Sydney’s famous harbour bridge which made me smile, even if I did fail the landing back at the airport.
It’s provides you with a glorious sense of freedom, and the landscapes in different countries are distinctive. It is a shame though that some of the airports and major cities are lacking in detail, or just look like they belong in Flight Simulator 98. Of course, that is an exaggeration, but it doesn’t seem like it has made a leap forward from Flight Simulator X which Dovetail re-released on Steam last year. The planes on hand are impressively detailed (at least to an untrained eye), and there is a noticeable difference in how the Super Cub and Cherokee fly.
Overall, Flight School is a welcome introduction to flight sims, though as I mentioned earlier, I’m not entirely sure who the target audience really is. The positive is that my experience with Flight School has left me extremely interested in seeing how Dovetail’s full simulator turns out. Flight School is a solid game, especially at the budget price, but please go in with your expectations set accordingly, I’m talking to experienced fliers here. This isn’t a new Flight Simulator X, it really is just a training school for new fliers and on that front it does a good job, but judging by some of my videos, I could do with trying the landing tutorial a few more times.
The Verdict – On Target
Platforms Available/Reviewed – PC
Please read this post for more on our scoring policy. Review copy supplied by PR.