Developer: Terminal Reality
WITH DETAILS, SHORT ON PAPER
Virtually every helosim Iíve played has
been combat oriented. When Helosim.com Editor Matt Staring directed me to
contact TRI and get a copy of their new offering Fly! II and give it a
thorough testing, my first thought was, "But it isnít a combat helosim!
What am I gonna do? Fly around looking at the scenery?" Imagine my
surprise when I began getting comfortable with the program and I discovered
that there is a lot to be said for just flying around and enjoying the view!
Fly! II is the sequel to 1999ís acclaimed flight sim of the same name and
the lineage shows. What doesnít make the sequel is the second diskóFly! II
is missing some key features right out of the box, like the complete manual
and tons of location and scenery material. You are expected to download this
material from the web.
No, there are no Hellfires or chainguns here. Fly! II
provides a few planes, one helo, an astonishingly skimpy manual, and one
mother of a hard drive installó1.3 GB to be exact (minimum, the
"typical is 1.75 GB!). Oh, and ice-age length load times. I found the
average time from clicking on the Fly! II desktop icon to actually getting to
the helo around six minutes. Indeed, I started reading Ray Bradburyís
"Martian Chronicles" and finished the book during the review phase
of Fly! II. Tempting though it was to publish a book review instead, I stayed
on course and gave Fly! II a thorough workout.
have your pick of the Bell 407 helicopter, Pilatus PC-12, Kodiak twin engine,
Aurora B200, Sahara single engine, and Barracuda B200, Flyhawk 172, and
Peregrine 800 TR jet. Naturally, I zeroed in on the Bell. After a lengthy load
time (two chapters of Martian Chronicles worth) I was presented a crisp and
detailed exterior view of a red/white 407. The first menu choices are the type
of game: Quick Flight, Adventures, and Flight Planner. The adventures offer
the most fun for me, fictionalize a "mission objective" that is in
line with my combat helo experience. You may find yourself gripped by the
peril of some random system failure and just finding the airport and getting
safely on the ground will rival battling KA52ís any day.
control panels are simply amazing. Every switch, button, and gauge is
reproduced in the complete exactitude. In addition, most if not all have a
popup window that gives you the state and value. This brings you much closer
to controlling your craft and simulating the real thing than most sims. It
also demands patience because if youíre not a real pilot you will need time
to learn your helicopter or plane. The program offers a few options to help
you out, such as auto starting the engine, which is smart. You can pan around
the interior of the craft and the artwork is first-rate, near photo-realistic.
You can turn on and handle just about everything you see, even raising the
seat and adjusting the ventilation shutters. Fly! II really lets you pilot
your plane through the use of realistic controls.
With the abundance of switches and gauges, it follows
that the interface would be critical to the playability of Fly! II. I can
report that the interface is good and mostly user friendly. The view slews
with mouse or keyboard commands. One element of Fly! II that is lacking is the
manual. You know somethingís wrong when a flightsim manual barely contains
38 pagesóand counts the front cover as page 1! Fly! IIís manual
constitutes a mild form of customer abuse! It has some details on installing
the sim and managing the interface and a scant word or two about flying. One
note of warning for newbies like meóthe manual briefly explains how to press
the Ctrl key and produce yellow arrows on the edge of the screen, indicating
an additional direction to view. To follow the view direction of one of the
arrows, the manual instructs you to "just hit the desired arrow".
Well, after 20 minutes of frustration clicking on the yellow arrows while
holding down the Ctrl key, it occurred to me to try hitting the arrow KEY on
the KEYBOARD. That did it, finally. The manual could have been a little
clearer here! If there is a theme to the Fly! II manual, it is the annoyingly
repeated phrase "covered in detail in the electronic manual".
good but varies. The ground is consists
of featureless green and white mush and the sky, while
sufficient, doesnít make a big step forward in atmospheric renderings.
The engine sounds are accompanied with beeping warning chimes and alerts from
time to time. The helo and planes look excellent.
II has some good levels of customization. You can map the command keys to suit
you. The Flight Planner is barely described in the paper manual, once again
requiring you to go online to complete your purchase of this flight sim. To
change airports, you will need to type in the first few letters of the name to
get some choices, no drop-down menu to help you find the airport youíre
think of. You can select rain and wind weather effects here to enhance the
realism of your flight. Itís a nifty tool but could use a few steps toward
making the input more intuitive.
The flight model of the Bell helo and several of the
other planes I tried seems to favor a slant to accuracy rather than user ease.
The helo handles with the same degree of validity as EECH. Flying in this game
reminds you itís not a hands-off affair. It gets easier as you build up
airtime. Fly! II improves on it predecessor with the ability to acquire damage
to various parts of the aircraft. Problems with the landing gear or damage to
an engine will put you in crisis mode and offer you the opportunity to
belly-land or make a dead stick landing. Nice touch!
The environment around you is
should expect performance hits if you are running anything less than a top-end
machine for this time period, something like a PIII 800 with 256 MB RAM and a
high-end graphics card with 32+ MB onboard. The specs call for a minimum PII
300 with 64 MB RAM. I used a PIII 500 with 160 MB RAM and a TNT2 with 32 MB
and I got decent frame rates with some of the detail switched off. Clearly,
TRI is building for the future, which I condone. Hardware upgrades are a fact
of life in gaming.
all the scenery packs totaling 280 MBs.
If God Games would use the registration database to mail CDís with the
missing portions of the sim, it would go a long way towards legitimizing their
TRI expects the player to download the full version of
the Fly! II manual, a trend Iíd rather not see started. And the game
benefits greatly from a two-part patch, available on the web. With these
add-on enhancements, itís clear that this is not going to be an
out-of-the-box review. If you ever wanted to be a beta tester for a big PC
game company, this is your chance.
(~3 MBs), manuals (~30 MBs), and scenery packs (~6 MBs) are downloadable via
the web, but these suckers are big and if youíre coping with a 28.8 modem,
you can forget about
Multiplay and mission scripting capabilities round out
the package. You can connect to Fly! II's "persistent, worldwide,
environment complete with the latest weather downloadable from NOAA Metar. Use
functional multi-player radios to tune into each other, text and voice chat
(downloadable from Roger Wilco)."
THE LONG AND SHORT
inclined to play Fly! II are a little more mature and patient than, say, the
spewmonkeys literally eating Corner Rat Studioís WWII Online alive for start
up problems. Does TRI/God Games deserve a slap on the wrist for marketing an
incomplete game? Sure, but not a beheading as long as they continue to strive
and follow up with support, features, and assistance. Games these days are
exceedingly complex and expensive and they endeavor to harness all the power
todayís brawny hardware provides. Itís not an easy situation. Fly! II is a
prime example of a game rich with detail and features. It covers a lot of
substance and brings the player into close association with the helo or plane.
With some popular support, corporate support, time, and seasoning it could
grow into a wonderful experience. Whatís there is goodóitís just not all
there. If youíre a pilot or someone who craves the most detailed cockpit
lots of stuff to touch and you donít mind building the sim as you go, Fly!
II could be for you. There are a lot of resources online, official and
unofficial support websites to add scenery, options, planes, airports, and
features to Fly! II. However, if youíre looking to open a box and fly, this
sim doesnít live up to its name.
Specs: Win 95/98, Pentium II
333 Mhz CPU or faster,
3D video card with 16MB RAM, 4X or faster CD-ROM drive, 64+ MB
RAM, 1300 MB Hard Drive space, supports joystick. Mac compatible.
|HeloSim's Rating - 5 out of 10