F-22 Lightning 3

a game by NovaLogic
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 1 review
User Rating: 7.0/10 - 4 votes
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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.

System Requirements

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

Bottom Line

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.

Download F-22 Lightning 3


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP