Finally, let’s take a look at multi-player operations. Since I get enough “multi-player” experience in my day job, I haven’t spent much time in the past online with FS9. I’ve explored it enough to know there is an extremely large and dedicated online community, some of whom fly with as much (or more) professionalism and experience than some pilots I know (seriously). When I read that multi-player connectivity was provided through GameSpy I cringed at the thought. Not because of any experience with that company, just because I had a perception that it would be a loser of a system. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the registration process was hassle-free; in fact, you don’t even have to leave FSX in order to set up an account and start playing. There are none of the stupid forms and questions and verification processes; it is quite painless. Once registered, I logged in and was taken to the Multiplayer Lobby. In the Lobby you can see what games are up and running with connection quality, which airfield they are using, how many players are active and allowed, and whether voice communications is available. There are also options to password protect games so that you limit who flies with you.
Once you’ve selected and logged in to a game you are taken to the Multiplayer Session Conditions menu where you will set up how you are going to participate online. Here you can select to be either a pilot or a controller. You can also pick the type of aircraft and whether you want to “share” your plane with other users. By sharing you can participate in a multi-crew environment or give flight instruction. For starting location, this is extremelyimportant. If you don’t read anything else in this review, read this! Choose your airport starting location and be sure to choose a starting position on the airfield that is NOT a runway! If you don’t do this you will likely spawn in on the end of the runway and you’ll instantly be the “noob” that ruined someone’s take-off or landing. This will aggravate the controllers and everyone else in the session, particularly if you spawn in and then don’t do anything for 5 minutes (I’ve seen it happen!).