Flight simulators often straddle a strange line between being games and instructional tools. There's rarely an objective beyond ones that you yourself set -- getting off the ground is a fine starting point -- and if you're like me, the "game" ends when you make a poor navigational choice and end up smacking into the terrain below. Still, I find myself drawn to them, and Infinite Flight is one of the best flight simulators I've found on the App Store.
When you open the app, you're greeted with four changeable flight options: Your type of plane, location, weather, and time of day. There's a number of variations of each, with a total of 31 aircraft (14 of which are obtained via in-app purchases), a dozen or so regions, a huge range of weather conditions, and four times of day.
Once you have all your options set, the app throws you straight into the cockpit of your virtual plane. There's really no tutorial to speak of, aside from a "Help" option that explains what each of the many on-screen control buttons does, but through a process of trial and error (mostly error), you'll should find yourself taking to the skies before long.
As soon as you're airborne -- and once you've learned the demeanor of your aircraft -- you can explore each massive real-world location for as long as you want. I live roughly fifty miles from one of the starting airports offered on the starting menu, and was able to fly by my relatively small hometown while piloting a massive jet.
There are a couple of things that keep Infinite Flight from being jaw-droppingly amazing: First, while many of the planes are extremely detailed and well modeled, the actual scenery and airports are extremely basic. There's nothing in the way of 3D buildings or varied terrain, which is find when you're high in the sky, but can be cringe-worthy when landing.
The second issue is that half of the planes on offer require in-app purchases, which can amount to a pretty hefty iTunes bill if you want them all. The app itself is US$4.99, which is a bargain for an extremely deep game like this, but it feels strange that many of the best aircraft require you to use your credit card again.
Despite these shortcomings, Infinite Flight is still one of -- if not the -- premiere flight experiences on the App Store. It's (mostly) eye-catching, and crams a huge amount of content into a small package, even if some of it costs a few bucks extra.