Game Over Online ~ F-22 Total Air War

GameOver Game Reviews - F-22 Total Air War (c) Digital Image Design, Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher F-22 Total Air War (c) Digital Image Design
System Requirements P133, 16MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 95%
Date Published Monday, September 28th, 1998 at 04:40 PM


Divider Left By: Pseudo Nim Divider Right

[PseudoNim] This one's been long waited for. Whenever DiD does something, they do it right. Remember the flock of F22 sims that came out just about at the same time a while back? F22: Lightning II, F22 - Raptor, iF-22 and more got released overnight, and they all, put plainly, sucked. DiD never hurried, and released F22: ADF a while later, and man oh man was it worth the wait. It was by far the most realistic, most authentic F22 sim at that time, and even today, for that matter. And now comes the long-awaited F22: Total Air War.

[TraderX] For this review we're attempting a different approach. Rather than having two or three reviews all about the same thing, I will focusing on PseudoNim's main review and giving my opinions on the points he makes. At the end, feel free to e-mail us if you prefer this style of review or our regular style. To start things off, I must agree with Pseudo where he makes his point that DiD has definitely achieved excellence with their latest title. Total Air War takes flight sims to new heights in realism, and authenticity. It seems they always pay extra attention to how the flight sim feels to the end user, and it definitely paid off this time around.

[PseudoNim] Total Air War takes off where F22: ADF left off, adding crucial features such as, most importantly, dynamic campaigns. What's a dynamic campaign? That's a campaign that, rather being scripted and force you to, say, successfully complete every mission, tracks your results instead and adjusts enemy activity accordingly. Lost a mission? You might find yourself facing extra-heavy forces at that last military plant you didn't bomb. Missed a SAM? Watch your teammate go flaming down in, uh, flames, blaming irresponsibility and ignorance on the part of the planners. Or maybe he just sucked and never looked at the radar. Whatever, the point is you get an environment with (according to DiD, I'd never be crazy enough to count - give me my target wing of Migs and a couple bunkers and SAM sites and I'll be happy) over 22,000 targets, 5,000 named cities and towns (didn't know that many existed, wonder if they invented some for the goodness of the scenario - Pseudoville? Has a nice ring to it, wouldn't you agree?); 300 airfields, with correct runways, control towers, accompanying buildings, and so forth. And to top it off, 4.5 million square kilometers of land mass are covered in the game, spanning eight countries, for ultimate realism. (Now I know what those spy satellites must've been doing after the Cold War. Too bad they never got hold of the Russian ones, as the quality of the terrain textures might've been a tad better if they did).

[TraderX] The dynamic campaign system they have created for this title truly surpasses any campaign system seen in simulators today. I mean, when you've got so much land to discover, so many enemies to destroy and most importantly, so many decisions to make, the replay value of this game is heightened one hundred fold. I was very impressed with the way they created the outcome based actions, as Pseudo described, one decision you make could easily affect the entire plot and objectives of your campaign. By doing this it not only increases the replay value, but it actually makes the game fun as opposed to many linear flight simulators that keep you heading in one direction throughout the game.

[PseudoNim] The training missions are very well-done in the game. There's a quick key summary right before the mission for the obsessive-compulsive fast-actioners who get seasick looking at a manual or a Readme file (is that at all possible?). It helps reading the keylist though, as some advanced functions, such as thrust vectoring, are never taught in flight school. The training missions span everything from takeoff and landing to intermediate weapons training to AWACS control (yes, you can play the role of Cmdr. Whoever and play God, i.e. look over the battlefield and direct fleet movements, and are able to jump into any plane and take on the action, if you see them doing too badly). There are also dogfighting lessons, which are very useful if you intend to look like you can fly in multiplayer. The enemy AI is quite good in dogfights, but there are certain patterns to the way it flies, especially on undermatched planes - like the Mig-31 or 29 for example, which have inferior handling to the F22. Basically, once you get on someone's tail you just stay there and circle around pounding him from the machine gun. I could easily take on two Migs and come out with but a scratch or two, and all that due to my sheer incompetence. However, fighting an F22 was hard. Much harder than two Mig-29s, in fact - the computer controls the plane REALLY well. However, I therein I found another AI defect, or, perhaps, I was too good for it, which I doubt: when I did my beloved I-am-two-meters-above-the-ground-and-you-suck-t oo-much-to-touch-me trick, the PC F22 ran into the ground. Go figure, I'd never expect that.

[TraderX] It's true that the training missions are outstanding in every way, and I definitely recommend completing them before you start the campaign (for rookies or veterans). Pseudo mentioned that you can control the AWACS, but he forgot that you can also be a Tactical Mission Planner, Weapons Officer, AWACS Commander or Combat Pilot during the actual game, providing MANY modes of play. Once you have a good enough feel for the flight systems and control, you are ready to take off. Yes, like most simulators there's a whole whack of keys (about every key on the keyboard does something, and then holding shift gives you another 101 options, and so on... ). Pseudo was very keen in discovering the A.I flaws, it was not until I did the dog fight training for a second time that I discovered his F22 trick. Despite the realism, the A.I does have a few flaws that I can understand the programmers easily overlooking. Perhaps their intention of the Mig's flying in circles was to simulate a more realistic pilot, because that method is very effective for evading missles (but not cannons, as I learned in multiplayer with Pseudo :).

[PseudoNim] The gameplay is fun. Major fun. The physics engine is completely realistic, with redouts, blackouts, stalls, and all the other fun things you can do when you don't feel the g-effects. It was such a great change from Mig-29 that I reviewed a few days back I almost crashed a few times. Among some of the coolest features in the game are thrust vectoring, which tilts the exhaust nozzles up or down slightly, thereby increasing your pitch rate, which can be very useful in tight turns. Also cool is the gearless landing, which I, being a complete landing freak, love to do every once so often. The idea of it basically is that if your gear is damaged you should be able to land an F22 by landing it on the belly which, if the speed is right, works like a charm. Looks cool, too. The ego feels better afterwards, too.

[TraderX] Perfect gameplay is probably the key word here (if you exclude the minor A.I defects). I loved the way the plane physics were done as well, it truly gives you the feeling that you are actually sitting in the plane. Especially if you have equipped yourself with a proper weapon (joystick, which I assume most flight sim fans DO own), you can get caught up in this game for hours. You'll be pleased to know that Time-compression is readily available (Shift + T), so don't sit there for 6 hours saying "Where the f**k are the enemies dude?!". Unfortunately they only present you with the option of doubling your time compression (if I recall, JSF let you multiply it six times), never the less it's still fun to watch the scenery below in one of the 20+ views as you approach your next way point.

[PseudoNim] The graphics in the game are decent. This is not Novalogic's eyecandy, and DiD is usually known for making realistic sims that lack just a tad on the graphics side. It's understandable, considering the only company who manages to swing great realism AND great graphics is Jane's, which I'm sure is to DiD in size as a Space Shuttle is to a model plane. Or something. In any case, the ground textures are all right, but the plane detail is where the game shines - assuming (rightly I'd say) that what you'll be seeing the most often is your plane, DiD did (pardon the pun) a great job on the plane, up to the camouflage colors. The interior is great, too - when in virtual cockpit mode, you can turn your 'head' around and look on different sides of the plane, with the corresponding lens flares and reflections in the canopy glass. What's weird is that you can turn your head about 180 around - feels unnatural and makes you want to turn back fast 'cause you feel like you're doing something you shouldn't be. A neat gadget is also one where you can hit 'Z' to switch to padlock view where your pilot stares in the direction of the currently targeted object, so that you get a decent idea of where you should turn. Again, problem is, he sometimes looks in directions that ... let's just say they're a bit off-axis.

[TraderX] I agree with Pseudo to the extent of half-decent graphics, but if you take a look at some of the screenshots when they are motionless, it seems to look a lot better than when you're actually flying (for some odd undiscovered reason). I guess it was because of all the texture glitches I noticed while running the game @ an 800x600 resolution. Some of these glitches include overlapping textures, ripped textures, and polygons that "go-through" each other (a problem seen in almost every 3D game). Despite the fact, you'll be pleased to know that the game fully supports Direct3D, and seemed to work fine with Direct X 5 and 6.

[PseudoNim] Multiplayer is a blast. But then again, isn't any game where you can show your friends how good you are at Immelmans? Or landings? Or kicking their ass in dogfights? Or how "ereetly" you can crash into the neighboring mountain? Wait, scratch the last one. Some of the modes available include up to 8-player coop and deathmatch. Too bad there's no Capture the Flag or Jailbreak. Actually, CTF would be fun if you had to land on an enemy base and drive around looking for a flag... then take off and get shot down by a clever camper with a armed-and-ready AIM120... then drop the flag in the desert... hmm. Then you stop dreaming and get on with life.

[TraderX] The multiplayer is without a doubt enjoyable, and during an internet match up with Pseudo, we both experienced very little lag using 56k modems. More multiplayer variants would have been nice, currently the coop and deathmatch should last quite a while though. Maybe DiD has some variants up their sleeves, who knows, but I honestly think most of their attention was paid to the campaigns rather than multiplayer. Another possibility is they could be focusing on multiplayer for a future release, with internet gaming on the rise, anything's possible right now...

[PseudoNim] And last, but not least, the manual: a 336 page monster awaits you right out of the box, subduing you and squashing your hopes of an evening of gameplay - you're taught everything, from what the Bernoulli effect is up to whatever the complicated stuff is, I never read these things. I got bored about twenty pages through the AH-64D Longbow manual, except for the pretty pictures. Sort of helps I know some of these things, though - objectively speaking, it's a great resource. And DiD enlisted the aid of two air force vets (both retired - I wonder why no active-duty personnel writes books? They must be playing too many games, yeah, that must be it. *Cough* I think I'll go look outside now, see if anyone's following my car. No, they're not after me. Not yet, anyway.) The two great Knights of the um, Map table are Colonel Rich Reynolds (retd.) ex NATO Air War Planner and AWACS specialist and Major Dave "Pooch" Putze, ex F-18 Hornet pilot. There is also a reeeeally long section about the actual plane, written by the renowned "World Air Power Journal".

[TraderX] The manual may provide headaches for some, but I know a lot of "freaks" who would probably sit down and read through the entire thing. Just remember, there is something called a PAUSE button (oddly enough, its "P" on the keyboard), so if you run into trouble just pause the game and look up the topic you require help on. (Duh)

[PseudoNim] Overall, all I have to say is 'DiD does it again.' The EF2000, then F22: ADF, now Total Air War... they just keep churning out great sims. So what if the graphics suffer a bit, Su-27 Flanker had flat-shaded polygons. 'Graphics don't make the game', once said a wise man - and one can't be more right than that. Kudos, DiD. 'Wolf Lead, Splash One.'

[TraderX] I know graphics don't make the game, but perhaps if someone at DiD is reading this, you know what to focus on for the next game. You could say playing this game was an experience of the classics (from DiD) such as EF2000 and F22:ADF in a different form. Overall they have done and excellent job on this sim, and true fans will appreciate what they have created for us.

 

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Rating
95%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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