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Microsoft said today it will launch its Microsoft Flight flying game on Feb. 29. As we noted before, the game is a free-to-play online-based title aimed at reviving an old flight simulation franchise.

As the title implies, this is no longer a game for simulator fans, who demand the utmost realism and all sorts of hard-to-use options. Rather, it is a simpler game aimed at the masses who enjoy the experience of flying.

If this new version works with the new business model — where users can download the initial game and geographic region for free and then pay to unlock other features — the company could restore a 29-year-old franchise and bring it into the modern age of games. And that could mean a lot of new revenue, as Microsoft has sold millions of the previous games.


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The basic game will allow players to fly an Icon A5 or a Boeing Stearman N2s biplane (as long as you sign into Games for Windows Live) above the gorgeous terrain of Hawaii. If you want to see more scenery, you can purchase the Hawaiian Adventure Pack for $19.99 and gain access to the rest of the Hawaiian islands as well.

You can also buy downloadable content, including a basic P-51 Mustang fighter plane (pictured top, without the guns) to go zipping around the region at 300 knots. You can also fly the slower Maule M-7 260C aircraft for takeoffs and landings on rugged surfaces. The P-51 has no cockpit view and sells for $7.99. but the Maule is available for $14.99 with a deluxe cockpit view.

The game becomes much different depending on the kind of aircraft you’re flying, executive producer Joshua Howard told VentureBeat.

“We are taking tremendous care and effort building the deluxe and basic airplanes,” he said.

Microsoft is trying to make the game as accessible as possible. For instance, you don’t need a joystick to play it. You can fly using a mouse, simply by pointing at a spot in the sky where you want to fly. The aircraft responds to your mouse moves. You can also attach a joystick if you prefer. You can download the game for free over the internet, and you don’t have to register when you start playing.

The game requires a PC with the following minimum hardware requirements: Dual Core Processor 2.0 GHz; 256MB graphics card, DirectX 9.0c compliant; 10GB hard drive space; Windows XP with Service Pack 3 or a newer version of Windows; and 2GB RAM. For better performance, Microsoft recommends Dual Core Processor 3.0 GHz; 1024MB graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 5670 or nVidia GeForce 9800T or equivalent; 30 GB hard drive space; Windows 7 SP1 64-bit; and 6GB RAM. The title will be available as an online downloadable game this spring. The initial download is about 1 gigabyte.

That’s a hefty PC, but the requirements are in line with mainstream computers that have been purchased over the last year or two.



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