F-22 Lightning 3
When the real F-22 aircraft finally enters service some time next century, we can't help but feel it'll be an anti-climax. How much can the USAF show us that we won't have seen a thousand times before in just about every flight sim of the past three years? This same question can also be levelled at F-22 Lightning III, NovaLogic's latest addition to this never-ending sub-subcategory of the flight sim genre: what can it offer that we haven't already seen in F22 Total Air War; iF-22; F-22 Raptor; or even F-22 Lightning II?
The most immediate answer is that NovaLogic, finally bowing to peer pressure, market forces and plain common sense, have done away with Voxelspace graphics. Glide and D3D technologies have elbowed their way in and are nestling in resolutions of up to 1,024x768 on F-22 Lightning IWs monitors. Meaning that NovaLogic can now include all sorts of graphical effects including raindrops, hailstones and snowflakes. Weather plays more than a cosmetic role though, with a flight model that takes atmospheric conditions into account and manoeuvres differently depending on the environment.
What else? Well, contravening Nato directives four to 17 on the deployment of simulated fission weaponry, F-22: Lightning III enables you to play with nukes. The only other time we remember a flight sim with nukes was F/A-18 Korea, and frankly they were terrible - a pathetic little mushroom cloud that would barely flay your cat.
NovaLogic promise something more entertaining this time (Nukes? Entertaining? - Ed). The boast is that you can level entire city regions and witness spectacular explosions; although how you can witness a nuclear explosion without having the skin melted off your screaming body is another question. Still, it's good to see someone present the positive sides of mass thermonuclear destruction, instead of whining about morality, ethics and human rights.
The only other area of note (at least in the information that's been released so far) is the NovaWorld Internet support. Not only can you take on other F-22 Lightning players in deathmatch and team games, but you can also tackle F-16 Multirole Fighter and MiG-29 Fulcrum players. Plus NovaLogic are puffing their chests out about their Voice-Over-Net technology, which gives you the ability to chat with other 'real-life' pilots via microphones. NovaLogic claim this is a first, but Interactive Magic's Air Warrior 3 did this ages ago. But, it's good to see the technology getting a wider audience.
So, another chapter in the ongoing F-22 flight sim history is almost upon us, though we'll have to wait until July to find out whether this chapter's worth reading or not.
Download F-22 Lightning 3
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Hang your thinking cap at the door, turn on your microphone, grab a Geiger counter and let’s play F-22 Lightning 3! NovaLogic is in the F-22 business again and this time they have a few new twists. Try an easy-to-fly, but advanced fighter jet with online voice capability and the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Flying F-22 Lightning 3 is easier than driving a Cadillac with cruise control. NovaLogic has built in a comprehensive autopilot feature that chauffeurs pilots around during all the difficult tasks from takeoff to refueling to landing. When the battle heats up, switch off the autopilot and radar then twist, turn, and duck from enemy SAMs and air-to-air missiles. Taking down enemy aircraft with Sidewinders and AMRAAMs eventually becomes ho-hum since the weapons systems modeling was glossed over. Evasion is the challenge, especially in online play. The pilot who dodges, wins.
Quick Mission, Campaign, and Multiplayer are the modes of play. Quick Missions are great for training and experimenting with weapons. The campaigns consist of a series of scripted missions over tropical, desert, and snowy/mountainous terrain. Experienced virtual pilots will likely fly through the campaigns at a casual pace. The Multiplayer aspect is by far the most challenging. Up to 128 players can join one Novaworld game without worrying about Internet bog. Game types are Deathmatch, Raptor Air War, and Coop. The R.A.W. and Coop games are quite enjoyable because of the team interaction and ability to bomb enemy targets to score points. NovaLogic should be commended for implementing their voice-over-net technology that allows players with computer microphones to speak and hear others during online games.
Ahhh ... nukes. Chinese spies didn’t steal all the U.S. nuclear secrets, at least not the ones held by NovaLogic. Gamers deserve a few nuclear secrets. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has now spread to desktops everywhere. Smart bombs are for geeks. Try the dumbest bomb ever, the B61 Tactical Thermonuclear Bomb. Forget the term "surgical strike." With this weapon, think autopsy. Detonating this device creates a no-man’s land within a three-mile radius of the blast point.
One graphical annoyance common in today’s combat flight sims is the blurred ground with gray blocks of buildings that don’t blend. The pilot thinks: "Well, I see that the developers have inserted a few textured blocks that are supposed to be the buildings I am bombing." After flying 100 miles to bomb a target, most pilots want it to look worthy of their payload! F-22 Lightning 3 is an exception. The ground, buildings, and sky all fit together into a seamless world. Be it simulation or game, there are not many titles with better-looking graphics than this.
Predictably, the most extravagant visual in F-22 Lightning 3 is the sight of a B61 Tactical Thermonuclear Bomb exploding with a flash and slowly sweeping its gray fallout across the earth under an orange mushroom cloud. This is truly a sight and surely future sims will attempt to emulate this. I can’t wait. In the head-scratching department, the missile view cuts back to the cockpit just before the missile impacts the target. It’s disappointing to track a missile for a while and then not see its explosion. Pilots miss the theatrics of their missile pounding into the evil enemy. Also, four out of the eight views don’t function in multiplay.
NovaLogic generally does a great job in the sound department (or studio, rather). There are no big surprises here, but_ F-22 Lightning 3’s_ sounds are more appealing to the ear than the average combat flight game. The erratic radio signals heard from the aircraft and the air traffic controllers generate a sense of urgency in the battle. Missing in action was Bitching Betty, the deliberately annoying threat warning voice! No great loss. Pilots hear a threat warning tone that beeps like a heart monitor, increasing in tempo as the missile approaches.
Windows 95, 98, NT with 3D card: Pentium 133, DirectX 6; without 3D card: Pentium 200 MMX required, DirectX 3, 32 MB RAM, 220 MB available hard disk space, 4X CD-ROM drive, Windows 95 compatible video card, mouse
F-22 Lightning 3 should have a strong appeal to entertainment-oriented virtual pilots. The nuclear feature has a way of drawing the curious into the game. By far, the multiplayer aspect yields the most value, but when competing online, F-22 Lightning 3 has the feel of a sport, rather than a war. NovaLogic might want to throw in some complexity by deepening the weapons systems and flight modeling next time around. Until then, let’s have some fun.