Nov 9, 2007
Anyone remember towing ticking nukes around in the Lunar Lander-like TerraFire? Every pendulum-swing of the bomb tugged at your twirly spaceship with just the right amount of force. The effect was mesmerising, and just the sort of Newtonian naturalism I was hoping to find in Acceleration.
A good 23.7% of this eclectic, official Flight Simulator X add-on revolves around dangling things from a new helicopter - the Augusta EH101. The physics for lifting were always going to be hard to get right and, frankly, ACES haven't got them right. Well, not quite. Whether you're hoisting a soggy sailor or a mangled mountaineer, toting a Humvee or a Hustler (aircraft, not jazz mag), load movement seems to have little impact on handling.
In more positive territory, when it comes to the air racing that made a tentative debut in FSX, Acceleration bashes it with a wrench and gets it working. Buyers get full multiplayer support, ten Red Bull courses, and Mustang racing at Reno. The GameSpy servers were as deserted as kamikaze squadron reunions when we were testing (admittedly a week or two before release) so we haven't had the chance to fly against live pilots yet. Considering the number of times our offline practice sessions end in oak trees (Longleat) and ship masts (Istanbul), this might be a small mercy.
As well as being the most exhilarating thing you can do in FSX, Extra 300S racing is also one of the most testing. While high-flying is permitted in a pylon race, in Red Bull derbies you have to pass between the inflatable gate markers to escape penalties.
If hugging the deck like a hedge-hopping Bf-109 for lap after lap sounds too fraught, there are also soothing sailplane contests and (potentially very tactical) long-distance GA hacks among the 20-odd online scenarios. In the past, MSFS multiplayer has never really lit our afterburners; competitions like these could well change that.
Talking of afterburners, the 30-strong selection of solo sorties (all imaginative, lively and sprinkled with custom audio and decision points) includes five outings in a splendid F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter. While you don't get to splash MiGs or Maverick tanks (we reckon working weaponry will be one of FS11's big features), you do get to launch from the deck of a catapult-equipped carrier and land on the same with the help of an interactive LSO (Landing Signal Officer not London Symphony Orchestra). Like much of Acceleration's varied content, it's an exciting business, but not one for fainthearts or fumblers.