Flight sims have always been popular. They allow you to take to the skies engage in dogfights, fly in the Battle of Britain, take the controls of Stealth Fighters or... try your hand at flying an Airbus. Hmm. If there was ever a "serious" game this is it; we are talking about pure simulation. You are the pilot of an airbus; you get your flight plan and fly between airports.
In an attempt to get some gameplay in here, the makers have added pilot ranks. The aim is to be promoted form Student Pilot to Chief Pilot. How? Fly about a lot and don't kill all your passengers.
Before starting your career, you'll do well to try out the training mode to see how things are done. The manual contains a brief guide for your initial flight, but unfortunately it is badly put together. If a game has 150 pages of manual the information needs to be supplied in a logical order.
The tutorial chapter omits to tell you about entering the elevation code for the airport - this information is hidden earlier in the manual in what seems to be an unrelated area on enhancements. Without this information,your Airbus sits switches off on the ground. It is, I guess, a bizarre and tedious form of copy protection.
To start the gam, you need to fill in the pre-flight information, with details of the airports you'll fly to and from, what time you'll depart and with what cargo, passengers and fuel. At this point, you may get slightly wary, because the mouse control is all over the place. It would have been very easy to put a better interface in for this information. In fact all the pre-flight graphics are pretty dull Dpaint efforts.
Anyway, soon enough you're sat in the cockpit ready to start her up and find a runway. After a highly exciting time spent taxiing, you can whack the engines up to full throttle and take off.
A couple of things seem amiss here. Firstly, you can be bombing along at over 100 knots and not really have yourself correctly aligned on the runway and it doesn't seem to matter. Secondly, it doesn't matter how the nose is set on the ground, as soon as you hit over 130 and pull back, the plane takes off.
You can fly around a bit and then try a landing which is infinitely more difficult than taking off. The actually flying part is OK, with reasonably smooth graphics, but the flight is very, very slow and even with accelerated time, you soon find yourself bored enough to start playing around.
This is an update and has had the autopilot revised and "seek and hold" functions added. The Europian scenario has been extended to include more countries and there are 29 new aerodromes, and 200 new navigation radio beacons (wow!). The visual improvements are especially welcome, but Airbus is never going to be very engaging.
The problem is it is very realistic and consequently very boring. If you ever wandered how un-exciting flying an Airbus is, if you've always wanted a simulation of a bloody big plane, then your prayers have been answered. Just don't buy this thinking it's another F117-A because you'll be in for a big shock.