If Flying's Like This, I'm Never Going Up Again!!!
The very first thing I have to say about Pro Pilot is don't buy it. If you have received it as a gift, smile happily and toss it in the 'trade' pile and look elsewhere for a good general aviation simulation. Now that I've cleared the way for all you "down to the point" people who just want to know if the game is good or not, I'll tell you why Sierra's latest release was such a disappointment.
Graphically Pro Pilot looked very nice when I saw its screenshots. But as we humbly travel back to the real world, on the middle-class computer, Sierra's samples are a far cry to what I experienced. While the screenshots displayed crisp clear terrain, the actual pictures on my monitor were quite different. The landscapes more closely resembled pea soup, with little bits of ham and corn here and there, instead of the recognizable landmarks that I prefer to fly by. Don't let the screenshots fool you, unless you have the most recent monster system, you'll probably experience mom's pea soup just like me (yummy). However, graphics weren't the only thing that ruined the game, just about every aspect could have used a LOT of help, but none more than game play and realism itself.
Sierra was unbelievably inconsistent with the entire production. There were some little things about the game that made me very happy to see such as battery switches, individual light switches, fuel tank selectors, and alternator switches. Just about every little button you'd find in a real plane, you'll probably find in Pro Pilot. However, once in the air, Pro Pilot took a horrible nosedive and crashed. The physics engine was very inaccurate and the airplanes were extremely insensitive, even with the sensitivity turned up (which is a stupid idea in the first place, it should be pre-programmed just like every other flight sim on the market).
It seems as though Sierra spent lots of attention building the cockpits and interior detail and totally forgot about the rest! That's definitely the wrong place to concentrate your work power, but the fact remains that the cockpit controls are top of the line, while the flight controls/physics are worse than Microsoft's first Flight Simulator, 15 years ago!
Pro Pilot wasn't an overall bomb; it did have a FEW strengths. As I've already mentioned, the cockpit detail is very pleasing for nit-picky simulation enthusiasts like myself. I also must give the producers credit for the huge effort in tutorials and teaching videos. We all know most flight sims whether combat or general aviation come with a 200+ page manual filled with ground school information. Instead, Sierra took another approach and decided to accompany their 250 page manual with an extensive library of demonstrated flight maneuvers and tutorial lessons, making the manual a handy reference guide, instead of a pestering hassle.
Obviously this game, to say the least, is an incomplete package. If the lack of flight realism wasn't the worst of it all, the disappointing graphics and mediocre sound effects were the fatal blow. While it has its strengths in some areas, they definitely don't make up for the $50 or so that you've worked for. I give them credit for revolutionizing some aspects of this genre of simulations, but I wouldn't spend $10 on this title, much less than what Sierra's asking! My final words: Microsoft's newest Flight Simulator 98 is a much better diverse flight sim, and Looking Glass' Flight Unlimited II is the best general aviation sim out there right now, if you don't mind flying within the San Francisco bay area.