Microsoft Combat Flight Sim

"Microsoft's first foray into combat flight sims is a class act. This sim combines the famous attention to detail seen in Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 with photo-realistic scenery generation and challenging missions.

The missions are full of action and the photo-realistic scenery adds to the adrenaline rush whether you're in a dogfight at 5,000 feet or strafing a train at 50 feet!

By designing an open architecture sim Microsoft have encouraged 3rd party developers and there are already custom aircraft and missions proliferating on the net. There's even a Korean war conversion available!"


System Requirements

My test rig was a totally average gaming system: Pentium 233MMX with 64 MEG RAM and a 16 Meg Creative 3D Blaster Banshee.

The frame rate ranged from 10 fps to 60 fps, but probably averaged around 14-20 in combat.

Turning the cockpit off gave as much as a 2 x increase in framerate. This wasn't a problem for me as I usually alternate between padlock view and no-cockpit view in combat.

Running in 600 x 400 and 1024 x 768 made no difference at all to the framerate! ( Credit the Banshee card. )

On a 15" monitor 600 x 400 gave as much detail as I needed ( see the screen shots in this diary ). As you turn up the resolution the screen fonts get smaller so I would probably only use the higher resolutions with a larger monitor.

Stand out features

 Ignoring the bullet holes for a moment, the bitmaps are done in such a way that they don't pixellate and jump about as you get closer.
 Starting at altitude and zooming in on the landscape.
 Scenery so real it's scary!
Still pictures cannot convey the sense of speed you get doing 300 knots at 100 feet... breathtaking. This is one of those few sims where 1500 ft altitude looks like.... like 1500 feet! Once again I stress it's the extraordinary clarity and smoothness in scaling which enables this effect.

Aircraft handling

Each aircraft handles differently in Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator, even down to the taxiing and take-off characteristics.

The Bf-109 generates a lot of torque when you open the throttle, and you compensate for this with a touch of rudder. I say a touch because if you over-control the wing will dip and you end up dancing on 1 wheel!

I did this a lot until I learnt to use a very gentle touch on the rudder.... learned the hard way as you can see!

The Hurricane had extremely vicious wheel brakes. Just one tap and you're looking at the runway close up! This could be compensated for to some extent with back pressure on the stick but I found it best to leave the brakes totally alone once you were up on the main gear.

I got the best results by emulating my wingmen on takeoff... they seem to takeoff "by the book".... it works and saves you monitoring airspeed. Just takeoff a second or 2 behind them, gear up and match their climb out.

 Just point the mouse cursor at any cockpit element and a label springs up telling you what the instrument is called. For more information press F1 to access the thorough in-game help.
 Each training mission has a video briefing in which a plane flies the manouever along a green ribbon diagram. This provides the clearest demonstration of air manoeuvers I had yet seen in a flight sim.
 Add to these features the in-cockpit checklists and you have a great sim for learning to fly combat aircraft.

An instructor pilot also talks you through the procedures.... stick position throttle, speed .... step by step. Unlike some other sims he doesn't bore you with theory... it's straight into the flying, hooray!

At the end of each lesson you are free to explore the detailed landscape.


The sim comes with 4 campaigns ready to fly.

Battle of Britain: RAF

Typhoons and Spitfires... 50 years on the Battle of Britain still evokes images of a valiant struggle against overwhelming odds. "Never before has so much, been owed by so many, to so few!" - Winston Churchill on the part played by the RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain.

Battle of Britain: Luftwaffe

Europe: USAF

Europe: Luftwaffe.

North American P-51D after taking off from Croydon near London

North American P-51D after taking off from Croydon near London.