RE: Which is better, FS2004 or FSX? (Assuming your system can handle FSX)
I'll make my sell for FSX.
If your going to spend money on a sim you might as well get the newest one. Simple enough but by getting the Deluxe FSX you get pretty much the same sim as FS9, but it looks better, it has ALOT more potential to use your system than FS9 ever could, and it has a bit more variety to what MIGHT interest you than FS9 ever could without adding a few hundred dollars more in software to make it interesting.
My system can't handle FSX with all its whistles on, but can FS9 maxed with other add-ons too to make it look good. It still won't look as good as FSX. Once I get a DX10 system and the bugs are out, I can see where FSX will blow FS9 away in graphics. We're at a tought spot for people to decide to upgrade or not. I think that is the real debate about FSX. Most people have lower-end, or like me, just hanging on systems and FSX demands better systems that because of the major hardware changes in the past two years will require a big open pocketbook to get the most out of it.
In retrospect, you can pick up either version and learn to fly a plane. Don't expect it to be "as real as it gets", and you can read about hundreds of maticulous (sp?) nickpickers talking about how this plane dosn't or hasn't got this, blah, blah, blah. Point being you can learn alot for either.
FSX, as far as ATC goes, is better in FSX. If you get the deluxe and you have a fast internet connection you can take control of a tower. Getting people to go to where you are controlling might be a different story, but ther is an avenue for learning.
FSX, also has its own missions. Yes some are kind of hocky. But for the money you can play the missions and probably get as much out of your money trying to do those as you would if you slapped down 50 clams for any video game anyways.
Gigabyte E-series Intel 2.66 Core 2 Duo overclocked to 3.5
4 gigs PC800, 8800 GT OC
Windows XP, Sata 150,500 300