Never before have I gotten so involved in a flight sim. F22 Lightning 3 is very simple to use and operate for the newbies out there, and can also be very realistic and challenging for the pros. A complete and realistic flight model, weather physics, and enemy AI all add to the depth of this game.
Unlike other games, weather in F22 Lightning 3 provides for a very realistic experience. Flying through a storm is much different than flying on a nice summer afternoon. Various weather conditions will plaque you throughout your campaigns, including rainy, sunny, night, day, and more. On a stormy day, the aircraft will be much harder to control, and maneuvers will be performed differently. You also risk getting hit by lightning! Of course, is you wish to avoid the storm, you can always fly up into the sky, above the clouds, where you can see the beautifully done night sky, complete with stars.
I'm sure we'll all like the latest addition to the F22 Lightning series, the thermonuclear bomb. Many missions require you to destroy large facilities. Doing that with 1000lb bombs would take you multiple bombing runs. But fly high, and drop a single nuclear bomb, and you'll wipe out everything within miles, including yourself if the bomb hits the ground before your a long ways away! The nuke looks very realistic as well, complete with a mushroom cloud, and enormous shockwave, that will shake your aircraft no matter how far away you are.
A nice set of tutorial missions is included, which will help you get adjusted to flying the F22. These tutorials teach you basic maneuvers, air-to-air/air-to-ground weapons, bombs, and everything in your HUD. It's amazing how simple this game can be once you complete these tutorials. I myself have never been great at flight sims, but this one I haven't had troubles with.
Graphics are some of the best I've ever seen in a flight sim. Terrain textures are nicely done, and aren't faded and washed out like in many flight sims. This engine was designed so nicely, it runs perfectly smooth at 1024x768x32 bit mode. Aircrafts have full detail, which is expected, including the bottom hatch which opens up to drop bombs. One downside to the graphics is the viewing distance. When flying at 10,000+ altitude, the terrain in the distance "pops" into view, instead of fading in slowly. Although this isn't a major problem, it's just a nuissance.
All controls are very responsive to your every move. As with all flight sims, it's near impossible to play the game using the keyboard, so therefor a joystick is used. A slight turn of the stick, and your plane vears whichever way you turned it. The jet is easily maneuverable, no matter what your trying to do.
After the first time I played it, it was hard to quit. Each mission leads to new encounters and challenges, all adding to the depth. It can be a very frustrating game though, if you reluct to go through the tutorials. The realism of the game is what catches most gamers though. It can just be really fun to fly a F22 at 1mach blowing up enemy aircraft...we all know that's fun!
It seems the low point of most games these days is the sound. Although sounds may be well done, and clear, they lack the hard-pounding bass that would be loved. Dropping a nuclear bomb should shake your room, shouldn't it? Well, in this game, you can't even feel the slightest vibration. Besides that, the sounds are nicely done. Missiles launching sound real, especially when using 3D hardware. You first hear the missile taking off from your wing, which is slightly to the side and behind you, and you hear it fade off into the distance infront of you. Bombs dropping can be heard underneath you just as if it were really happening. Excellent job on the 3D sounds.
I'm not too familiar with flight sim AI's, but I'd say they did a great job on this one. The enemy isn't stupid, so you'd better be careful when you spot them. It's best to take the enemy aircraft out from long distance with AMRAAM missiles, otherwise, your in for a classic dogfight. Enemies know how to make good use of their weapons, and also defenses including chaffs and flares--so don't always expect your missile to hit the enemy when fired. The great AI makes this a challenging, yet fun game.
Looking for a flight sim? Put this one on the top of your list!