Preview and Review by Alfred Giovetti, 09/22/96
Genre: Commercial and Private Pilot, Non-combat, Flight Simulator
Release: November 1996
Designer: Sublogic, Dynamix
Publisher: Sierra Online
requirements: Windows 95, 2X CD ROM drive
Sierra recently acquired Sublogic, a company that programmed Microsoft’s Flight Simulator and ATP, the world’s most accurate and popular commercial and private pilot commercial flight simulator. Pro Pilot will go beyond the original but be remarkably similar in many ways.
There will be 20 fully modeled metropolitan areas and 2,500 U.S. and Canadian airports, all major rivers and lakes. You will be able to fly from Chicago to San Francisco with 27 million levels of height for buildings, ground, trees, wires, hills, other planes, and mountains. Starting with ground school and ending with full certification, probably not with the FAA, will be in an updated 3-Space modeled world, which was originally invented by Damon Slye in Red Baron. Fly the Cessna 172 Skyhawk trainer, Beechcraft Bonanza, Beechcraft Super King 300, Cessna 185 sea plane, and Cessna Citation bizJet.
Sierra will now have an artificial intelligence-based Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), take you through the paces, from your first solo flight to flying location to location and even trans-continental flights. Grades will be awarded for safety, efficiency and airmanship. You will even hear the Air Traffic Controller and your flight instructor speak as you fly.
Once you have gone through the same training to get a private pilot's liscense on three airplanes, the King Air B200, B58 Baron, and Bonanza, you will get the opportunity to progress to more advanced levels. The game will simulate the certification for seaplanes, multi-engine planes, and commercial jets. The game bosts of being able to give game players commercial pilot priviledges.
In spite of my curiosity over the FAA approval of the game as an official flight simulator, which was never approved in the original Flight Simulator game, we can look forward to this title with anticipation and relief that this genre will not be lost due to the bankruptcy of the original Sublogic company.
Graphics: The graphics of the Dynamix developed 3 Space and three dimensional technology will be added to the old Air Transport Pilot shell. The cockpit instrumentation far exceeds any cockpit instrumentation shown so far. The modeling of the plane that we saw still had some saw-tooth graphics in some locations when you were far enough away from the object. Close up views were about as clean looking as I have seen complete with light effects, metallic and paint shine, and shadows.
Twenty-five million elevation points are modelled in 20 major cities, complete with railroad tracks, roads, rivers, mountains and smaller communities. Cross-country flights will be possible hopping amoung over 2,500 fully modelled airports. Airports and flight training will support the full gamut of flight sound effects, including Air Traffic Control radio messages, pilot to pilot communications, flight instructor suggestions and lessons, and engine noise.
356 square pixels make the terrain look quite good from 3,000 feet up. Planes are modeled with 500 polygons which makes them look nice.
Game Play: A GPS (Global Positioning Sytem) map helps you to locate your position.
Animation is said to be slick for even low level Pentium computers. The lack of 3D acceleration hurts the illusion at lower than 3,000 feet altitudes. Frame rates are in the 13-19 range with Pentiums. Texture loading causes long pauses in the action.
Voice actors: Air traffic controller voices actually comment if you get off course. Your copilot helps keep you on course as well.
John Sauer, InterAction, November 1996, pg. 53.
Steve Wartofsky, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 71, October, 1996, pg. 58.
William R. Trotter, PC Gamer, volume 4, number 4, April, 1997, pg. 90.
Frank Lenk, Boot, volume 3, issue 4, April, 1998, pg.78, 7/10, 70%.