Flight Adventure 2
October 9, 2011 42 Comments
And now for something completely different. When I started Indie Gamer Chick, I figured I would be playing all kinds of genres that I wasn’t entirely familiar with. Instead, I’ve mostly been dealing with platformers and space shooters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the Indie scene hasn’t exactly been the beacon of new experiences I thought it would be. And then along came Flight Adventure 2.
Granted, flight sims are nothing new to gaming, but I never really got into them. My father was hugely into Microsoft Flight Simulator, which he would often talk me into trying. I would usually last about five minutes before boredom set in. I did fair a little bit better with Pilotwings 64 as a kid, and later Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. series, although that’s a true simulation of flight in the same way Splinter Cell is a simulation of espionage. But I never aspired to be a pilot and I didn’t figure games like this would figure into my life at any point.
When I spotted Flight Adventure 2 on the marketplace, I knew I had to give it a shot. I mean, it looked damn good, and it was licensed by Boeing. A licensed Xbox Live Indie Game? Get the fuck out! And then I was contacted by the developers of it, who assured me that online play was a major component of their game and provided me with a code to give to someone on my friend’s list, which my BFF Brian eagerly snatched up. This not being the type of thing I’m into, I figured I would monkey around for an hour, maybe do a race or two, and then type up the most entertaining review of an Xbox Live Indie Game flight simulator you’ve ever seen.
Now, six hours of playtime later, I’m barely able to get through typing this without wanting to go back and play it some more. Fancy that.
Flight Adventure 2 isn’t heavy on options. There’s only one airplane for you to fly, a P-51 Mustang, and you can’t customize it in any way. There’s also only one map at your disposal, albeit an insanely huge one that contains multiple different routes for races. I don’t know how much more or less complex this is than your typical flight sim, but the controls are complicated and you have lots of stuff to pay attention to once you’ve taken off. So the game isn’t exactly easy to use, but neither is an actual airplane so I guess that’s the point.
If I could think of one word to describe Flight Adventure 2, it would be “relaxing.” This is a no-pressure game experience. Once you’ve taken to the friendly skies, cruising around at your leisure is very tranquil. It helps that the developers focused on eliminating things that would take me out of the experience. The draw distance is insane, to the point where there is absolutely no pop-up or fogging that would destroy the immersion created. Meanwhile, you still have to manage things like your pitch and roll, adjusting your flaps and maintaining your speed. If you go too fast, your plane can break apart, as mine often did. You can change this in the options menu, which is handy if you plan on doing various stunts with your plane, but why bother? I actually felt somewhat accomplished when I was able to do a loopty-loop in my Mustang without showering the Earth with broken airplane and body parts.
When you get bored with aimless flying, you can enter a race mode using Xbox Live or via system-linking. You choose one of six courses where you must fly between what looks like miniature nuclear cooling towers. I also had fun with this mode, but I should note that in my personal opinion, the towers aren’t spread apart far enough, and I would often clear a gate by crashing straight into it. Brian said I was just being a crybaby and they were perfectly spread apart. So basically Brian is an asshole and I’m right about this, because I felt it was just too hard to get between the damn checkpoints.
Then again, I really sucked at this game. Even after several hours of playtime, I had been unable to land my plane successfully. Brian tried to walk me through it, but our efforts were fruitless. About five hours in, I was finally able to land my plane. Kinda. I broke off the wheels, but by God my character would have survived if he existed, and that’s okay with me. I also semi-successfully landed on a hill once, but when it comes to collision-detection the game doesn’t seem to factor in speed. I held the breaks and gently eased my way down the hill, going maybe a few feet per a minute. At the bottom of the hill, I lightly tapped a tree with a force equivalent to having a fly land on you. At this point, both my wings flew off at roughly the speed of light and my cockpit exploded. I theorized that my pilot was in fact Hans Moleman.
I have to also break my rule that says people who received the free code get no feedback in this review, but I have to do so for a very important reason. Whenever we were doing races, my friends Brian, Bryce, and Cameron had to bank hard to reach a checkpoint, and they would occasionally accidentally click the left stick, which brings up the map. This happened often enough that it seems like it might be a problem for other players. That or all three of them were just thick. Brian? Maybe. Bryce for sure. I don’t know Cameron all that well though, and the fact that it happened to him too suggests to me that maybe they shouldn’t have mapped the map to the left clicker. For the record, it never once happened to me, but most of the time I was too busy crashing into trees to be worried about how steep I was banking.
And since I’m giving someone else feedback in my review, I might as well go in for a penny, in for a pound and also note that Brian thought the absence of fuel was weird. I’ll admit that a game that takes itself so seriously with realism and accuracy ignoring such a key component of aviation was bizarre, but I was actually glad that I had one less thing to worry about. Between adjusting my flaps, my thrust, and various other words that sound naughty if taken out of context, worrying about having enough gas in the tank would have been too much for me to handle.
Overall though, I really liked Flight Adventure 2. It’s one of the few Xbox Live Indie Games that I can safely say I’ll keep playing long after I’ve finished reviewing it. Despite its complexity, the game offers a leisurely experience that’s high in production value and low in cost. Hell, I managed to write 1,100 words thus far without whining about how they didn’t include dog fighting in it. My primitive brain is wired for combat, not for adjusting trim on an ancient airplane. A flying game without shooting? Total hogwash, or so I thought. It should have been impossible for me to have enjoyed Flight Adventure 2, but I did. I guess I enjoyed it because it made me feel like I was Amelia Earhart. And by that I mean I was an unskilled pilot with a tendency to crash but, damn, what a ride!
240 Microsoft Points spent more time in trees than Tarzan in the making of this review.
A review copy of Flight Adventure 2 was provided by CAVOK Games to IndieGamerChick.com in this review. The copy played by the Chick was purchased by her with her own Microsoft Points. The review copy was given to a friend with the sole purpose of helping the Chick test online multiplayer. That person had
no limited feedback in this article. For more information on this policy, please read the Developer Support page here.
Nate, whom I hear went to the John F. Kennedy Jr. School for Flying, also reviewed this at Gear Fish. I would like to note that I experienced none of the online issues that he did.