Flight Sim Toolkit. (entertainment/hobby software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by David Gerding
Flight Sim Toolkit is an absorbing and truly groundbreaking product that is a musthave title for every die-hard flight sim fan. Domark has combined a solid flight simulator engine with a collection of Windows-based tools that let you create or modify almost any objects and characteristics in the simulation. You can create your own planes to fly in, as well as custom worlds to fly over. Combine these with custom scenarios to create an infinite variety of flight simulation challenges for you and your friends.
There are five editors included in Flight Sim Toolkit: World, Shape, Color, Cockpit, and Model. The World editor allows you to lay out the topography of your simulation carefully, creating worlds as large as 25 million square kilometers. You're most likely to enjoy the Shape editor, which lets you create 3-D models of the objects which will occupy the world. Flight Sim Toolkit comes with 144 such objects to use and manipulate, everything from the requisite variety of military hardware to St. Paul's Cathedral.
The remaining editors add depth and detail to the simulation. For example, you can use any bitmap as the basis for the cockpit design, then add working gauges with the Cockpit editor. You can even manipulate the aerodynamic models used in the simulation with the Model editor.
My criticisms are primarily limited to the features Flight Sim Toolkit lacks. The ability to fly missions in tandem with computer-controlled allies is sorely missed. Experienced flight sim fans will also hunger for better artificial intelligence on the part of opponents. This shortcoming is particularly troublesome given that no modem play is yet provided. (Domark promises head-to-head modem play in a future update.) Perhaps the biggest problem is the manual, which is shallow and vague; you'll learn more by just experimenting with the editors than by reading the manual.
The amount of control you have over your simulation is nothing short of remarkable--you can even have custom WAV sound files play when certain events occur. Flight Sim Toolkit supports both VGA and sharp SVGA graphics, but you'll need a fast 486 to enjoy the latter.
Best of all, you can share your creations with others--Flight Sim Toolkit includes a runtime feature that lets you create stand-alone games that you can freely share with friends who may not own the program. Flight Sim Toolkit can turn any patient sim fan into a topnotch game designer.
Domark (800) 695-4263 $89.95
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