July 26, 2021

Microsoft Flight Simulator console review - occasionally clunky port can't dull the magic

11 months since it first wowed the world with its depiction of nothing less than the Earth in its entirety, Microsoft Flight Simulator makes its debut on Xbox Series S and X. Does the magic that Asobo and Microsoft Game Studios conjured out of photogrammetry, cloud streaming and plain old elbow grease survive intact on console? Absolutely. Does it work as a console experience? Well, that's a trickier one to unpack.

First, that magic. Microsoft Flight Simulator arrives on console as very much the full-fledged PC experience, with the same features, the same planes, the same whole planet and the exact same sense of wonder as you spin the map and figure out where to explore next. It looks absolutely splendid, too - just browse the screenshots here if you've any lingering doubts, all of them captured on a Series X where the framerate sticks to 30fps for the most part (don't worry, Digital Foundry will be along with a proper analysis in due course), and where the fidelity is just extraordinary. Playing in 4K and HDR, having come from my own modest PC with its 1080p screen, I'm being wowed all over again.

After a few days solid flying - and after dozens of hours with the PC version over the past year - I'm still catching my breath at regular intervals, staring wistfully out at the sun setting over the mouth of the Thames estuary, or that glorious moment when you break through thick, stormy cloud cover into the heavens above in a smooth, controlled airliner ascent. Microsoft Flight Simulator on console is every bit as impressive as its PC counterpart, so consider that part of Asobo's mission in porting this a success. As one of the few true next-gen games available on Microsoft's new machines, this more than does the trick.

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