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Microsoft Flight Will Offer Free-To-Play Model

Here's good news for fans of the original Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise: the first installment of the series reboot -- Microsoft Flight -- will provide a free-to-play (F2P) model. Microsoft made the announcement on Wednesday, reporting that fans will have the freedom to fly the skies over the Big Island of Hawaii without having to shell out a dime. Even more, the F2P model will also supply access to a variety of missions and flying challenges while allowing players to roam the island's skies in search hidden aerocaches.

"Players view the world from above in a visually stunning and realistic representation of the earth, complete with region-specific weather patterns, foliage, terrain and landmarks," the company teased. "Players can choose to take the helm using highly rendered, accurate cockpits and authentic piloting procedures, or simply use their mouse and keyboard to control the plane in an exterior view. More experienced players can tailor the flight controls to match their skill level, making Microsoft Flight easy for beginners while still challenging for the most accomplished PC pilots."

Microsoft said that players will also gain free bonus content by signing into the game with their Games for Windows - LIVE account. This additional free content will include the legendary Boeing Stearman plane, supplementary missions, and access to Achievements and an Online Pilot Profile. However those craving more will thus need to whip out the credit card and purchase additional Microsoft Points for acquiring new goodies like aircraft, regions and customization options.

"Microsoft Studios worked with the personal airplane manufacturing team at ICON Aircraft to give aviation fans the exclusive opportunity to fly the all-new ICON A5 before real-world production starts at the end of 2012," Microsoft said Wednesday. "Designed by the world-class aeronautical engineers behind the Voyager spaceship, X-Prize winning SpaceShipOne, and Virgin Galatic’s SpaceShipTwo, the ICON A5 is the 'jet ski for the skies,' a high-wing amphibious monoplane with a carbon fiber airframe and a comfortable, automobile-inspired cockpit with space for two. The ICON A5 will be the first aircraft available to players for free in Microsoft Flight."

Microsoft Flight is scheduled to launch this spring, almost six years after the tenth and final Microsoft Flight Simulator (FSX) title hit store shelves. Released in October 2006, FSX was the first (and last) in the series to be released exclusively on DVD. The upcoming Microsoft Flight will be a digital download only.

Microsoft is expected to showcase the new Flight game during CES 2012 next week. In the meantime, fans can still apply for the Microsoft Flight closed beta by heading here.