Formerly stick-straight rivers and coastlines now curve realistically; dynamic vehicle and boat traffic navigate major roads and waterways; migratory animals roam open spaces; and the sim's automatically generated vegetation - acacia trees in Africa, evergreen forests in Canada - correctly match the local geography. Some gorgeous reflective water effects and animated airport ground activity (fuel trucks, baggage carts, AI-controlled jetways) add further luster to this already impressive environment.
The ramped up multiplayer options are also noteworthy. FSX 's "Shared Skies" lets you assume the role of pilot, co-pilot, or tower controller with built-in voice-over IP support through a LAN or GameSpy-powered Internet connection and - better yet - you can hot-swap aircraft controls with an online buddy for the ultimate in hands-on flight instruction.
As stated earlier, all of this aeronautic ambrosia comes at a cost - one that goes well beyond the Deluxe edition's $70 sticker price. Load times are sluggish and blurred aircraft and scenery textures can emerge when the high-calorie visuals overload your GPU memory. With all graphic sliders turned way down, most mid-range PCs will struggle to produce double digit frame-rates and, even at the top end, there's likely not an affordable computer built today that can deliver "flyable" frame rates with all of the sim's eye candy cranked up.