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Flight simulators can be great fun to play, but you don’t really hear of any others besides the main three options: Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane, and FlightGear (which I wrote about a while back) FlightGear 2.6: Your Free, Open Source Flight Simulator Got Even Better [Cross Platform] FlightGear 2.6: Your Free, Open Source Flight Simulator Got Even Better [Cross Platform] As a kid, I've always loved to play with flight simulators. I still do today, except the ones we get to enjoy today are way more advanced than what I got to play with about... Read More . While these three are certainly great, they’re far from the only ones you should consider when looking at the flight simulation genre. Here are four other flight sims that are sure to get your attention.

Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator

ms_combat_fsim

Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator is unlike the famous Flight Simulator series in that MCFS revolves around the warfare among airplanes rather than peaceful flight simulation. It was originally released in 1998 for the PC, so it should be playable on any Windows machine with compatibility settings enabled. After the original game, a second and third release followed, with the last release occurring in 2002. The most recent one is most interesting to me personally as it is all about the “Battle for Europe” where you can play as the US Air Force, the Royal Air Force, or the Luftwaffe, and try to win the war with one of those three air forces. In MCFS 3, the list of playable aircraft includes:

  • North American P-51 Mustang
  • Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Lockheed P-38 Lightning
  • Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress
  • Curtiss XP-55 Ascender
  • Hawker Typhoon
  • Hawker Tempest
  • Supermarine Spitfire
  • de Havilland Mosquito
  • de Havilland Vampire
  • Messerschmitt Bf-109
  • Focke-Wulf Fw-190
  • Messerschmitt Me-262
  • Dornier Do-335
  • Gotha Go-229

Compared to Battlefield (which I’ll get to later), MCFS is designed so that it allows additional aircraft to be installed via third-party add-ons much in the same way as the Microsoft Flight Simulator series allowed. Battlefield, on the other hand, may feature a handful of various aircraft, but that’s it, and you can’t add new ones or modify the existing ones.

F-15 Strike Eagle III

f-15-strike-eagle-iii-2

F-15 Strike Eagle III was made by MPS Labs in 1992, and offered some of the most advanced graphics at the time of release. It was primarily available for DOS, which means that you can use emulation software such as DOSBox How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7 How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7 Read More to run it.

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As the game revolves around a single plane, you’ll be flying — you guessed it — the F-15 Strike Eagle. It’s armed with a M61 Vulcan cannon, guided missile, and laser guided bombs. In the game, you will have to succeed in 3 campaigns: Iraq, Korea and Panama. Theses campaigns include several missions, each mission has a primary goal and a secondary optional one. While it’s not a very long game nor does it display accurate flight characteristics (remember, it’s a DOS game!), it’s a good one to play occasionally. Best of all, you can get it for free!

Night Hawk: F-117A Stealth Fighter 2.0

F-117A Stealth Fighter 2.0_6-2

Night Hawk: F-117A Stealth Fighter 2.0 is a game similar to F-15 Strike Eagle III, but this one revolves around the F-117A! In this game, you fly the Stealth Bomber to two different targets per mission and either destroy them or photograph them. As you progress, those missions become harder. It was also made for DOS, which makes it playable with the DOSBox emulator.

As you may have noticed, this game ends with 2.0 — it is actually based on the F-19 Stealth Fighter game first released by Micropose, so it is technically just an update to that game featuring a different plane rather than a complete remake. Essentially, this update offers improved graphics, but similar gameplay.

Again, remember that because this is a DOS game, it won’t be very long, flight characteristics will be far from accurate, and the graphics will not be great by today’s standards. However, it’s a nice little game that you can occasionally play, and the best part is that you can grab this one for free!

Battlefield 1942

bf1942_plane

Battlefield 1942 isn’t known for being a flight simulator, but rather a game of all out warfare. However, it was one of the first war games that offered planes and helicopters in a rather enjoyable manner. With BF1942, you could launch into the sky with an old Russian WWII fighter and circle the map, bombing strategic points as well as shooting down other pilots in the sky. Future Battlefield games would keep air warfare in them, so you’ll be able to do the same with the more recent Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 4 (provided that you can get BF4 to work on your system 8 Issues Plaguing Battlefield 4 And How To Fix Them 8 Issues Plaguing Battlefield 4 And How To Fix Them Read More ).

They’re definitely not known for being highly realistic flight simulators, though — not even the newer versions. While the flight dynamics are acceptable, these aircraft are simply “get in and go”. In more realistic flight simulators, you’d have to consider wind, weight, fuel (and its realistic usage rate), and more. However, those realistic simulators take many painstaking hours to get a an accurate model in place, while Battlefield developers make one that is roughly close while providing lots of excitement.

Conclusion

While all of these games are very fun to play, they don’t take realism nearby as seriously as Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane, and FlightGear. If life-like simulation of flight mechanics is what you’re after, those three options are still your best bets. However, if you’d like a flight sim with more action (where you can actually shoot bullets and missiles), then these games are more what you’re after.

What other flight simulator games do you enjoy? Which one of the major three is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Frankie Kamoonsengkam@gmail.com
    October 25, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Digital Integration's Tornado was the best low-level flight action and it had the best manual of all. And the best mission planner that allowed you to coordinate a 6 plane strike from multiple directions, down to the last second. It had 6 autopilot modes. It lives on at http://www.tornado2.com.

  2. Pin
    April 6, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    you did forget one, FALCON 3.0 was amazing as well

  3. Lord Mikal
    February 8, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Use to really LOVE the F16 flight Sim (and of course - Wing Commander)

  4. A Man
    February 4, 2014 at 3:37 am

    Anybody remember Chuck Yeager's Air Combat?? Freaking awesome game.
    Sometimes I miss the simplicity of those games with a good old 386 system running EGA...wait WAIT what am I saying?!?!?!

  5. Sam A
    January 31, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Not to flame you or anything like that, but I was a little surprised to see that you failed to mention IL-2 Sturmovik on PC. That game is the current standard and has been since it came out quite sometime ago. It has adjustable realism in case you actually want to learn to fly an obscure Italian multi-engine bomber or would rather just jump in a plane a shoot down some Nazi's. The physics are great, the maps are huge, there are thousands of downloadable missions and skins, and the online community is super friendly and helpful with hundreds of tutorials. You should really check it out!

  6. Zoidbert
    January 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    My favorites were the LucasArts releases, notably "Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe" -- played that for hours; maybe even days. (My college roommate had it on his DS2/66 PC, and when he'd leave for the weekend, I was free to play it as long as I wanted, or could stay awake).

    However, my favorites of the genre (per se) were X-WING and TIE FIGHTER. Unmatchable today in terms of playability and replay-ability. I miss those games and hope that one day we'll see an updated release.

    I understand why the flight/fighter sim went away -- as graphics and systems improved, and capabilities increased, it was easier to make FPS type games. Back when the flight sim was king, this was the best way to make a good looking game (arguably, there wasn't as much motion/animation needed).

  7. toto
    January 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    LHX attack chopper (1990)

  8. Maha Koala
    January 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    DID F22 Total Air War

  9. Ronny
    January 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    There were a lot of goodies out there during the nineties and the beginning of 2k. You might remember one the visually very impressive sims call Flight Unlimited. Version 1 was THE showcase for Pentium I computers.
    For ye ancient MSFS lovers, you can get them all at: http://fshistory.simflight.com/fsvault/

  10. Kevin M
    January 11, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    You forgot the best one of them all, the JANES flight series was awesome!

  11. Christian C
    January 11, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I spent a lot of time playing the old F117a on the Commodore 64 back in the day, complete with keyboard overlay to hit the right controls and a speed slow enough as to make the journey from base to target more or less realistic.

    Also played with the lights off ;)

  12. Manuth C
    January 11, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Just where is the link to download Combat Flight Simulator?

    • James
      January 11, 2014 at 3:50 am

      You have to buy it. It's not free.

  13. Johnny Kook
    January 11, 2014 at 12:20 am

    Used to play a lot of Night Hawk F117 when I was a kid but Birds of Prey will forever remain my favorite. Of course it ruined the game when I discovered I could use a long range bomber to take it every enemy carrier and air field in a single mission and end the game.

    Another favorite was Tactical Fighter Experiment. Lot's of great challenging play.

  14. Anony
    January 10, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    YSFlight.com

  15. TomBombadil
    January 10, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Hmm... that came out weird. IL2 (1496, Cliff of Dover, Battle of Stalingrad), DCS (A-10, P-51, WWII), War Thunder and World of Warplanes (both free to play), Wings of Prey, Falcon 4.0, and Rise of Flight.

  16. TomBombadil
    January 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Dude.... you barely scratched the surface. To name a few:
    IL2 (1496, Cliff of Dover, Battle of Stalingrad)
    DCS (A-10, P51, WWII)
    War Thunder and World of Warplanes (both free to play)
    Lock-On: Modern Air Combat
    Wing of Prey
    Falcon 4.0
    Rise of Flight
    These run the gamut of realism, some (DCS in particular) take realism very seriously.

  17. Sparx
    January 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    The Novalogic series of flight games were pretty good too - decent missions and campaigns and the environment rendering was quite good.

    They had Mig-29, F-16 and F-22 Raptor / Lightning series and a Commanche based game too. All available on Steam

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