F-22 Total Air War
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Although most flight sims have something going for them, it's not often that one comes along with all the right ingredients. The last sim to do so was probably the outstanding EF2000, which had it all - great graphics, decent campaigns, a huge playing area and tons of atmosphere.
However, even with the 3Dfx support that was added as an upgrade last year it's looking a bit long in the tooth these days, which is why the sequel, F-22: AD, was so eagerly awaited. With new graphics and a new plane, all ADFlacked was a campaign, being limited to single missions. With TAW, DiD have rectified this and instantly produced the best military flight sim by miles.
There have been so many F-22 sims released over the past year that you'd be forgiven for thinking that developers had forgotten that other planes existed. Needless to say, the F-22 is the US Airforce's next-generation fighter - it may be big and ugly, but it's fast, stealthy, packed with the latest avionics and costs as much as a small Premiership club. But this is money well spent if shooting down loads of baddies with the minimum of fuss is important to you, because the F-22 represents a big jump in technology over planes like the F-15 and F-16.
Since the F-22 isn't in service yet, it's hard to say how authentic the systems modelled in TA Ware, but they feel pretty convincing. But even if it turns out that it isn't accurate it won't matter, because TAW is a lot more than a simple simulator of flight. The 'Total Air War'of the title is a comprehensive campaign engine in which you take command of the whole war in one of several different scenarios. At first you have to take the missions allocated to you, but as you gain promotion you get more control over the enemy resources that are to be targeted using a fully-featured mission planner. Even better though, you can sit on board an AWACS plane and direct your forces in real time over the whole theatre. Click on the icon representing one of your planes on the map, and you get a miniature 3D view of what they're up to. Double-clicking on an F-22 in the AWACS screen jumps you into the cockpit of that plane.
The in-game graphics are the best around, too. The scenery is varied, with plenty of mountains (proper ones, not just slight undulations), deserts and green fields. Explosions and other effects are also top-notch, and there's little more satisfying than flying through the debris of a recently wasted enemy fighter. The words Ctop graphics' and 'flight sim' put together is usually an indication that you're going to need a new PC, but MW ran surprisingly smoothly on our lowly P200. Things got a bit jerky over runways and when there were a number of planes about, but by reducing the level of detail it was always playable.
We've already said it, but TAW is currently the best flight sim available by quite a distance, and unless you're a die-hard fan of authenticity there's really no need to look elsewhere.
Download F-22 Total Air War
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
The one overriding memory I have ot the Gulf War is the mass of confusion that was the aerial campaign. It would seem, from watching the constant CNN reports from the front, that there were dozens of planes constantly in the air at any one time, day or night. A nightmare of organisation for the field commanders. That's what Total Air War, from DID, recreates. And it does it superbly.
Your role is twofold. As an F-22 pilot you get to choose from currently available missions in each campaign (missions that get harder and more important the better you get), to plan them out in exacting detail and then fly them. And not to crash. As an AWACS commander you have to take more overall control of your forces, guiding them into trouble spots, intercepting the enemy and generally keeping things afloat.
When I first started with TAW I thought DID had made a serious error in not letting you take overall control of everything that takes place in a campaign. The computer takes charge of tactical planning, of deciding which missions to enable, which targets to destroy, and so on. Now, however, thanks to many weeks of flying over Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt, I realise that it would be almost impossible for any one person to co-ordinate such a massive undertaking, and that your role as an individual flight controller is exactly the right one for a balance of gameplay and realism. The AWACS missions are there for control freaks, but thankfully they're smaller scale patrols with limited objectives, and enable the main war to be fought by the computer, as all future wars will be - one day!!
Up In The Air
There's no point going into too much detail about the actual simulation side of MIV, since it hasn't really changed much since ADF. Put simply: it's superb. It's one of the best flight sims available. The graphics are first-rate, and the flight model feels authentic and detailed enough to be believable. The amount of detail on offer is without parallel.
The main difference that TAW makes to the simulation side of the game is that it takes this flight model, the world engine and the attention to detail, and puts it into a world that really feels as though it's at war. Watch the radar displays on your HUD to see the war blazing around you; listen to the comms chatter over the radio to hear allied flights and other missions going through their paces.
ADPs only weak spot in the air was that everything felt very self-contained: the world appeared real enough, but everything in it seemed as though it was there for your convenience. TAW feels like a real war is going on and that your plane is just a small part of it.
Gear Stor Finals
TAW is a phenomenal game, make no bones about it. Testimony to how good ADFwas is that in the six to seven months since it was released, there still hasn't been a better flight simulation. WIVis now that simulation, with one of the best campaign engines ever designed added to it. Quite, quite superb.
Adf Versus Taw
If you've got ADF, is MW worth the asking price?
There Is an Issue of value here. About 60 per cent of Total Air War already exists In the shape at F-22: Air Dominance Fighter. Consequently, whether or not you own the previous title makes a difference to the whole situation. When TAW was first announced by DID, It was to be an add-on pack. It was to take the existing game and add a campaign engine to It. But somewhere along the line things got complicated. The programmers presented DID with a 300-page design document, the scope of the engine went beyond anything anyone was expecting, and an extensive campaign engine was bom. And like Caln to Abel, the decision to go full-price and standalone was also bom.
DID have said that they were always pushing to get Intogrames to offer existing owners of ADF a discount or rebate - which Is admirable. At the time of writing, however, Intogrames have stated that there will be no discount In the UK. Which stinks. What makes It even worse Is that the reason given tor this Is that It would be too much of a hassle for Intogrames to set up a system for doing It The bottom line: a corporation's laziness Is going to cost you and Is going to make them even more money. No one is arguing about the quality of the game. TAW Is an amazing simulation. The problem Is that ADF was also an amazing simulation. So the question Is: does TAW offer 40 pounds' worth of new material? Is the campaign engine (which, many have argued, should have been included In the first place) worth all that extra money on your part?
Certainly it's powerful. And yes, It does make a difference to the atmosphere when you fly a mission. A significant one. Unlike before, with ADPs standalone missions, you do get the feeling there Is a whole war going on around you. Beyond this, what else Is there? A Custom Combat screen. Nice, but hardly essential. What about the simulation - what's new there? Fluffier clouds. A slightly better communications system. Some different targets... Nothing beyond the scope of a simple add-on pack or upgrade patch.
The question simply centres around the campaign engine. Is that alone worth 40 of your pounds? It depends how desperate you are to experience the sensation of flying In a Creal' war.
All we can say Is,If you own ADF you should think long and hard before you decide to buy TAW, because essentially you'll be paying a lot of money for something you already own.