This unassuming title delivers far more than you might expect on first glance and has become one of my all-time favourite games! Yes - it's that good!
The visuals and physics are superbly done giving you a real sense of low-G flight while keeping the controls very straight-forward. However, just because the simulation is limited to basic thruster controls, don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple arcade flight model.
It takes a while to master flight and get used to the fact that (unlike an aeroplane) the direction you're facing is not always the direction you're moving and that your primary thrust (assuming you're upright which frequenly you are not) is pushing you up rather than forward. Learning the art of flight and mastering precise landings is tons of fun and very addictive.
It's the *feeling* of low-G flight that this game does so incredibly well! I don't have an Occulus Rift yet but it supports it and I imagine it would be nothing short of incredible! After you finish a flight, you can optionally save it and play it back which is a great feature if you've done a particularly interesting manoeuver or perhaps recovered from a minor crash.
*Note: I am a long standing PC gamer and get frustrated when the control scheme of a game is compromised to support gamepads that lack the precision of a mouse. However, Lunar Flight is a notable exception to that rule. This game is best played with a controller. A joystick/HOTAS setup works well (I've tried it) as it does with any flight simulator but in this case a gamepad is definitely the best option.
There are 3 lunar maps of increasing complexity and a 4th Mars map that has stronger gravity and wind storms which push you off course and obscure your vision adding a nice extra challenge.
Missions are one of three varieties: Transporting cargo directly from one pad to another; surveying (hover over) an area; or searching for and returning cargo that has been lost somewhere on the surface. In addition there are time trials where you have to fly from pad to pad through a series of gates as fast as possible and you can equip missles to shoot at either unmanned drones or other players in multiplayer.
Personally, I find the magic to this game is in the flying - not the shooting - and I would have been just as happy if the combat had been removed from the game entirely. The time trials never grabbed me either as I prefer to fly at my own pace. The missions are fun but extremely simplistic. After 100+ hours in the game, I fly cargo recovery exclusively as it is the most interesting of the three.
In some ways the game suffers from it's sucessful flight model as it's so much fun that even once you're past the challenge of learning, you still want to keep flying around. But, the simple and limited missions mean that there just isn't enough to do.
- Well executed and realistic flight/physics model.
- Excellent sounds and graphics. Both are simple but very effective.
- Wonderful *feel* to low-G flight.
- Oculus Rift support (even though I don't have one to try yet).
- Simplistic and limited missions that quickly become repetitive.
- Relatively small maps. They're sufficient but would be nice if they were bigger.
Mastering flight can be a challenge at first. However, the realistic physics coupled with simple controls strike a nice balance between game and "light sim", making it easy to pick up.
It's the wonderful sensation of low-G flight keeps me coming back for quick fixes despite the repetitive missions. I highly recommend this game to anyone that has an interest in flight games.