Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 22 2002

I purchased Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2002 the …

I purchased Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2002 the other day. I have been playing with the WWII editions where you fly around and shoot at other planes, but I just enjoyed the flying and looking around part, so I got the just-flying-and-looking edition, aka Flight Simulator. I loaded it up and promptly set flights around cities I am familiar with. Houston, Orlando, New York, Hong Kong, and, of course, Taipei.

I was disappointed in every one, especially Taipei, which I know better than any other place on Earth. I know that you can download extra details for each city, and I might even do it if I can find them for free, but in each case the cities were not at all like their real-life counterparts. I took off from Houston, couldn’t find the Astrodome or the amusement park just across the highway that I remember from my youth. I flew down to the bay and couldn’t find any sign of development along the sandy embankment. When I flew north of Orlando and tried to find the towns of Winter Park and Maitand where I went to high school, I was confronted with empty farmland. Taipei was composed of a few anonymous buildings, with no sign of the Grand Hotel, the Mitsukoshi, or even CKS hall (which I think is actually included in the Taipei special version for $29.95 or something), and Hong Kong consisted of a handful of soulless skyscrapers on the island facing a flat expanse of emptiness that is completely unlike Kowloon. It was like going back in time and discovering a pine tree farm where the mall was supposed to be.

New York City, however, was relatively complete, and although you’re supposedly allowed to choose the date of your flight, none of them include the World Trade Center towers. I even chose to fly south down Manhattan island on the morning of September 11, 2001 in a Boeing 777, imagining that perhaps they had done something special, but they hadn’t, unless the program sends a cookie to the FBI whenever someone does that. I suppose I’ll have to wait a few more years until we can see every little detail in these simulation games.

One thing the program did let me do was take off at CKS airport and fly directly to Shanghai. Or it would have if I could figure out how to find Shanghai via dead reckoning. In any case no virtual mainland Chinese jets came up and escorted me down to a little virtual airport in Fujian, where little virtual town officials welcomed my gift of a brand-new virtual jetliner. Maybe in a few more years you’ll be able to do that, Moore’s Law permitting.

posted by Poagao at 7:57 am  

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