by NovaLogic Reviewed by: Tim Miser
The F-22 is the most popular military jet fighter for a game company to simulate nowadays, and NovaLogic has now done it twice. F-22 Raptor is the sequel to F-22 Lightning II. NovaLogic's second effort sports better graphics, better enemy AI, free Internet combat, and a much more realistic flight model. Most notable is the fact that NovaLogic and Lockheed Martin, the primary contractor for the F-22, have teamed up to bring you the first game in the "Lockheed Martin Fighter Series." This was not a bad move by NovaLogic, considering the fact that the flight model in F-22 Lightning II was downright weak. The actual F-22 is billed as being an easy jet to fly and F-22 Raptor, the simulation, reflects that reality.
Gameplay and Controls
F-22 Raptor is extremely easy to fly -- for some flight sim addicts, too easy. There are two basic throttle positions most players will use most of the time: Full Military Power and Afterburners. The power is needed because of the extreme speed bleeding in sharp turns. For example, I took the F-22 up to a level flight, 30,000 feet at 660 knots maintaining full afterburners. Staying at the same altitude, I made a 360 degree turn as sharp as possible. Once I completed the circle, my airspeed had dropped to 175 knots! Since not many of us have actually flown a real F-22, I will leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions. F-22 Raptor's ordnance choices are also simplistic and few. There is the standard 20mm cannon and two types of air-to-air missiles: the AIM 120C AMRAAM Radar-Guided Missile and the AIM-9X Sidewinder Heat-Seeking Missile. There is only one type of air-to-ground ordnance: the Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) bomb. This is a satellite-guided fire-and-forget bomb that rarely misses. The damage to the aircraft causes various systems malfunctions. There are 13 systems you can damage that directly affect the system and your aircraft. For example, fuel system damage means your fuel will deplete at a much faster rate. Aileron or elevator damage will make your plane difficult to control, and so on.
F-22 Raptor consists of five linked campaigns of seven to nine missions each, six single training missions, and 14 regular single missions that did not find their way onto the campaign script. That makes for a total of 61 missions that feature a wide variety of air and ground strike missions. The campaigns take you to all parts of the globe, and conveniently, all different types of terrain: desert, jungle, snow-covered mountains, etc. F-22 Raptor features "Dynamic Campaigns." This means if you blow up a SAM sight in one mission, it stays destroyed in the following missions. Each mission within a campaign can also be played as a single mission. The missions are, however, a load of fun. The controls are very responsive and simplistic. For example, lowering the landing gear also automatically lowers the flaps. Unfortunately, there is no mission builder incorporated into the game. When all the campaigns and single missions have been completed, you'll be done.
The enemy AI and your wingman's AI are quite good. Most missions require you to utilize your wingman's ordnance as well as your own. One good thing is your wingman is usually nearby so if you get an enemy on your six, you can call for your wingman for help and he will immediately respond.
The first thing I noticed in F-22 Raptor was the beautifully rendered terrain and that it was accomplished without any 3D video acceleration. Whether you are over snow-covered mountains or a lush jungle, both the terrain graphics and the object graphics are visually appealing. As with other NovaLogic flight sims, there is an extreme colored lighting effect, most notable is the heavy bright red shading of the terrain and sky during sunrise and sunset missions -- too much if you ask me. The clouds are not very well done. Every mission has a thick cloud cover between 25,000 and 40,000 feet, regardless of how clear the day or night is. For example, when taking off at night I could see the stars; however, when I got up to 25,000 feet of altitude, the stars would fade out to go through the cloud layers. Once up to 40,000 feet, the stars would come back into view! One other bug I found was that below the cloud cover, you could see the sun or moon. Once above the cloud cover, they vanished.
The sound quality is exceptional. F-22 Raptor supports 5-channel Dolby Surround Sound. Most noteworthy is the thundering booming sound of kicking in the afterburners. The guns and missile shots are all very realistic and sound the way they should. The chatter from your wingman, enemies, and the control tower are all very clear and audible.
Definitely the best element in the game is the free and unlimited Internet play. NovaLogic has created novaworld.net where anyone with F-22 Raptor and an Internet connection can easily get setup for free multiplayer gaming. Free Internet and LAN/IPX server software is included with the game, so there is no need for any third party software. Novaworld runs very smoothly and if it wasn't for the real live pilots shooting you down, it would be difficult to tell you're online. The game also supports two player games via serial cable or modem connections.
Novaworld offers a choice of 3 game types: Deathmatch, GunsOnly, or Raptor Air War. Deathmatch puts you in an imaginary circle 80 miles across where the only purpose is to shoot without getting shot by other online pilots. If a player runs out of ammo or gets low on fuel, he can land at any airfield to rearm and refuel, but damage cannot be repaired. If you accumulate a lot of damage, it is sometimes best to ditch your plane so you can start again with a new F-22. The winner is the first to chalk up 10 kills. If a player is shot down, he will lose one kill from his total kills. GunsOnly is just that; it makes for some close online encounters. Raptor Air War (RAW) assigns each player to a side and the player decides to be a fighter or bomber. As a fighter, you get eight heat-seeking missiles; as a bomber, two JDAM bombs to drop on the enemy base. The winning team is the first to destroy its opponent's base.
Required: Windows 95, a Pentium 120 MHz (200 MHz
recommended for optimum play), 4X CD-ROM drive, 16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended), mouse,
joystick, and DirectX 5 (included on the CD)
Despite the fact that NovaLogic teamed up with Lockheed Martin to produce this simulation, it is definitely not a sophisticated or detailed flight sim. F-22 Raptor is a lot of fun, but for better or for worse, the flight engine realism is questionable. With the help of Novaworld, this game is a necessity for pilots who like to test their skills against others on the Internet. I also recommend it for those who wish for a simple-to-fly F-22 flight sim. Gamers looking for a detailed and realistic game should look elsewhere.
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