F-22 Interceptor by Electronic Arts is a top notch Genesis jet combat flight simulator -- in fact it's the only Genesis flight simulator patrolling the video airways. And that's "flight simulator" not "flying game". This game isn't at all like arcade aerial shoot-em-ups such as Afterburner or Air Diver.
Fly or Die
In F-22 you really must "fly" to survive. For example, taking off, landing, and refueling in mid-air are all potentially fatal operations for greenhorn pilots. You can stall the aircraft or fly into the sun so that you're blinded by the glare. Turn too tightly and G-force slams you with blackouts and red-outs. All this can happen before anyone starts shooting at you!
Be prepared to log massive flight time. You fly in four theaters -- the United States, Korea, Iraq, and Russia -- each containing a whopping 30 missions. Create your own tactical nightmares with the Mission Generator or try the Aces' Challenge where you take on two and then four aces simultaneously.
Supersonic Sights & Sounds
The game's looks are polished and familiar. The graphics are polygon-based like many personal computer flight simulators and aerial coin-ops, but F-22 supplements the basic visuals with slick animated story sequences, sharp equipment-selection screens, nice 360-degree scans of the jet, and a moritfying "killed in action" scene.
The sounds are cool, too. Digitized vocals bark warnings and command you to shoot. Live jet engine noise, and missile thumps keep you on guard.
F-22's controls produce precision flying. That's great, but at supersonic speeds it also means they're sensitive. You can pilot the jet from three views. Most of the time you'll rely on the first-person cockpit look. There's a wide-angle Heads-Up.
Display view and an external Chase view, which, too looks forward from behind the jet.
ProTip: Use the different view options. Chase is good for ground attacks. H.U.D. is good for dogfights
Give' em the Gun
The game's great attention to detail extends to the armament. Cannons are standard equipment, but you can also outfit the F-22 with six types of missiles from the real-life Air Force arsenal including Sidewinders, Sparrows, wire-guided TOWs, and television-guided Mavericks.
- TV guided missiles can be tough to control. Get as close to the target as you can before you launch them. All the hardware is essential. The action is intense when you run up against nasty waves of MiGs, choppers, mobile missile launchers, tanks, and surface-to-air missiles. Expect defeat -- often.
- To elude missiles bank hard right and then hard left Confuse heat-seekers by heading into the sun and then banking.
- In a pinch you can use air-to-air missiles on ground targets and vice versa, but in both cases they aren't as accurate.
The EA Air Force Wants You!
F-22 is a good flight simulator by any standard. Fledgling fliers will have a heck of a time trying to master the controls and fiddling with the options. However, veteran video jet jocks will go supersonic! The Mission Generator alone is inspired. Take off with F-22, you may never come down.
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