I've been reading these forums for some months, and today I joined.
A couple of months ago, I read through here for some information on Airline 5, and I noticed that people either loved it or hated it. Constantly I saw InnocuousFox making derogatory comments about the game (which is probably due to his involvement in developing a similar game at the moment).
I checked out the web site and became even more confused. The site was amateur, hard to navigate - but the screen shots for the game were really interesting.
What I did was found the e-mail address for EfZed and sent them an e-mail with numerous questions that I wanted answered.
To my surprise, I got a pleasant reply an hour later - and I was satisfied enough to take the plunge. Purchased with my credit card online and I had the game in about 8 working days.
Installed the game, and immediately I was immersed in the game like I've never been immersed before.
There are HEAPS of airports to choose from. I like to go global, so when I had my first hub, I began scheduling flights. Played the game a bit and realised it was very easy to earn money, and the other airlines aren't much competition.
I realised that I needed to set my difficulty to Real World and the AI
airlines difficulty to easy - then it became competitive. There's also an advantage if you know aeroplanes very well - as such, I was pretty spot on as to when a new type would be introduced, so I knew when to wait before expanding. For people who don't know planes it'll be much more difficult.
It's SO addictive! Basically every aircraft type that ever went into passenger service from 1947 onwards is included. That means Boeing Stratocruisers, Constellations, Comets, onwards up to the latest jets.
Of course, you do need to play the game properly - I ended up making an airline of once daily flights to heaps of destinations, rather than several flights a day like in the real world. Due to this, I made pots of cash. When you do it properly (begin with a few planes and do several frequencies a day to the same places), it is actually easy to lose.
With the bug fixes, they are free. Since I've had the game (2 months) there's been one fix - a 600k download patch. It fixed one annoying problem and some mathematical stuff in the background. Either way, the game is very stable on my system (WinXP pro, 192mb ram, Pentium III 500mhz). It's crashed twice - and both times it was when I had my e-mail programme, browser, internet connected, ICQ - in the background.
When you run it by itself, it's fine. When you run it with Photo Editor open (I downloaded maps so I knew what cities to fly to in all the continents I am not too familiar with), it works fine.
I bought the latest version and it comes with a free upgrade credit. This means I can upgrade for nothing to version 5.1 when it comes out in April or if I want, I can wait until version 6 in May (and the list of enhancements just has to be seen to believed!!!).
The one I bought is the last version to be shipped with a free upgrade credit, so if you're going to do it, do it now. Note though, that patches (ie: upgrades to fix bugs) are free. You only pay when they upgrade the game and add a heap of new features, which is fine.
So far I am very impressed with the product, and have no issues in recommending this product to other people. I've been computer gaming since 1987, and I know the good games from the bad games. This is one of the good ones.
What makes it even better is that you upgrade to better versions regularly for a nominal price. What is also good is that if you make a suggestion, they take it seriously and you may actually see it in the next version! The price of the game is also reasonable (moreso for people overseas, as the Australian dollar is weaker than the US dollar, and the British pound).
So if anyone is thinking of getting the game, just do it. I ummed and aahhed for a few weeks and I wish I hadn't now, because I could have had that extra time to play the game!!