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Publisher: MacSoft    Genre: Flight Sim
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 700 MB    4x CD-ROM

Fly! II
October 19, 2001 | Tim Morgan

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The legacy began with the release of Fly! by Terminal Reality in 2000. Terminal Reality had stated that it intended Fly! to compete head-to-head with Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, and to do so, introduced a number of features absent in Flight Simulator, including real-world interactive cockpits, comprehensive air traffic control, and extensive satellite imagery, among others.

Fly! became a stunning success to hardcore armchair pilots desiring the ultimate in realism. Its modularity helped it outlast its roots, allowing players to design their own aircraft, scenery, and scenarios — well, PC players, anyway.

Terminal Reality and Gathering of Developers followed up with the release of Fly! 2K, an expansion pack that added Sky!, an environment-modifying program designed by How in the World?, a prolific fourth-party Fly! developer.

With the announcement of Fly! II, Terminal Reality intended to address the largest complaints from customers: Fly! II would add damage support, easier scenery editing, and even better environment effects. Indeed, the game does live up to nearly all of its promises; but sadly, the game’s interface is bloated and its shortcomings are numerous, thus making it a relatively disappointing addition to the lineage.

Gameplay in Fly! II is nearly identical to its predecessors. The cockpits are still clickable and conform nearly identical to their real-world counterparts. In Fly! II, the user is presented with additional aircraft: the Pilatus PC-12, a high-end business turboprop, the Bell 407, an entry-level helicopter, and as an added bonus, an old WWI Stearman biplane. The old aircraft have new names and new paint jobs, and a few even come in multiple varieties (water-landing versions, for instance).

In addition, Fly! II now models limited amounts of damage. Though you’ll never see the extensiveness of military simulators like A-10 Cuba! and Falcon 4.0, reasonable support for damage is a welcome addition. Various components of your aircraft can take damage, and although it’s not displayed visually, a helpful dialog box can inform you how much damage each part of your plane has taken and also allows you to instantly repair your aircraft.

The interface of Fly! II is radically different from that of Fly! and Fly! 2K. No longer is there a welcome screen from which one can begin flying; rather, Fly! II puts you in the cockpit of a Cessna Flyhawk immediately after launching. An obstinate menu bar that doesn’t disappear still allows you to set up a flight plan and even has a convenient check-list, but the new user interface lacks the fluidity and ease of the former’s.

The user interface is bulky — trying to use the flight planner at 640 by 480 is a chore — and sometimes counterintuitive. However, it’s only rarely frustrating. The in-game interface features are almost indistinguishable from Fly!’s; in fact, the only difference is that double-clicking airports while in “info” mode no longer brings up the airport information dialog.


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