This article is from the Flight Simulators FAQ, by with numerous contributions by Bob Wittick firstname.lastname@example.org others.
Robert Dorsett writes:
This is difficult to establish, since, again, user enjoyment of a
product isn't directly proportional to its realism. Also, different
users might prioritize different aspects of the simulator, which can
contribute to perceptions of realism. An instrument-rated pilot
might value the fidelity of the nav database; a VFR pilot might want
a detailed visual database and good "seat of the pants"
controllability. A combat pilot will want a challenging adversary,
whereas a would-be test-pilot would enjoy just flying the airplane.
So far, there aren't any "combat airplane" equivalents of MS FS,
which will just let one fly around a realistic civilian database in a
really high-performance airplane, so it's not really possible to talk
about "instrument" military simulators, even though a couple provide
Since "package" evaluations ARE a function of user expectations, take
the following with a grain of salt.
1. _Civilian_ Considering flight realism, database design and
fidelity, and instrumentation.
Realism: Elite (Mac/PC), without a doubt. Developed with a 6 DOF
flight model, very accurate. Followed by Microsoft Flight
Simulator 5 (PC), ATP (PC) and MS Flight Simulator 4 (Mac/PC).
Database: Elite, for its nav database; ATP and MS FS 5 for
their visual databases. Navaids modeled better in ATP.
Instrumentation: Elite (Mac/PC), without a doubt; ATP and MS FS
4 and 5 are about on par.
2. _Combat_ Considering flight realism, database design,
responsiveness, and challenge.
Flight: "Hellcats over the Pacific"'s (Mac) F6F feels the most
like any airplane, but its performance near the edges of the
envelope feels too stable. Next-up would be "Falcon 3" (PC),
idiosyncrasies and all; followed by "P-51 Mustang" (Mac), and
"Aces of the Pacific" (PC). Near the bottom of the list is
"Falcon MC" (Mac), with its horrible flight model.
Database: "Hellcats," again, the most detailed, modeling
everything from moving aircraft carriers to the ammo cans on
anti-aircraft batteries. "Falcon" (3 and MC) are mediocre
Challenge: "Falcon 3's" probably the best, due to the necessity
of learning and using the various types of weapons systems.
"Hellcats" arguably provides the best air combat maneuvering guns
environment, although enemy aircraft don't die easily enough when
hit point- blank. "P-51" has a difficult ACM environment, but is
only 1:1. However, when one wins, one has a real feeling of