F22: ADF - Multiplayer Report
by Thomas (AV8R) Spann
Being an old hand at EF2000, Ive been flying that sim from its
first release (with reversed rudder control) through its final
versions of EF2000 G+ and Win95 V2 Evolution. EF2000 G+ being
the crown jewel of that series due to its superb code quality,
3dfx performance and its capability to field 4-6 players over
internet with optimal conditions. The end of a 3 year evolution.
So along comes F-22 ADF, the long awaited EF2000 V3.0 successor
(should say TFX3 to be P.C.). Sorry but this junkie could not
wait till TAW bundle hits the USA sometime late Spring. I ordered
directly from SimTech out of the UK. Pricey yes, but then again
its my hobby/addiction.
Note that my rig is a dated P133 with 40mb ram, Mystique 220mhz,
Monster3dfx 4mb and a 33.6 USR (with 28.8 to 31.2kb connects),
SB 16, 4 GB HDD, 15" ACER monitor, 40w woofer and full TM controllers.
Gotta love that night flight! Click for a larger image...
Installation was a snap and soon Im looking at the new GUI which
departs from its predecessor. Solo play is what I use just to
familiarize myself with the avionics and to check ride. The
avionics are 80% similiar to the the EF, so the learning curve is
not too bad. The world has changed. No more the greenish tint.
Instead a more "pastel" coloring. This being said, I like it
much better graphically than EF2kG+. It runs slower than EF2kG+,
so I have to set up a CUSTOM settings mix that is only slightly more
detailed than the MEDIUM settings. You can see a slight frame
refresh stutter, but being an old USNF/ATF/FA fan, this is still better.
The pilot chatter is sqwabbled due to the decode incompatibilites
with my SB16, but the fly by sound FX are topgun. As real as it gets
EXCEPT that its the same FX regardless of speed. First thing I
do to test the flight model is to try flight departures. Darn it
I cannot spin/stall this baby, nor could I in EF2000. Dont tell me
that its the cannards this time (snicker). Overall, this plane is
very flyable and believable except for the vectored thrusting doesnt
seem to make much difference. The rudders have more effect. Do
these planes really carry 1600 rounds? The M61A1 carries 560 rounds
I believe. Ive learned to be economical with Flanker's 150 shells.
Well enough said about solo, onwards and upwards to multiplayer.
EF2000 was so good that for EF2kG+, on Kali Launcher, you could
get from 2 - 4 players with ping latencies of <500ms easily. If
the pings were on the order of <350 ms or if the server was a cable
or ISDN provider; then 4 - 6 players were possible. For Win95
V2.0 TCP/IP could do 2 - 4 players, the big factor was again
latency but also CPU speed. A P200 or better is really needed due
to the lack of hardware graphics acceleration. So given this
rich multiplayer history, this is what forms my expectations for
F-22 ADFs multiplayer capabilities.
The reality. My first look at the multiplayer GUI was that
it was very intuitive. Whats better is that their is now
an area to chat whilst waiting for others to connect and to
be able to discuss the mission and parameters. This is a
long awaited feature that ive seen in Janes, XvT, TopGun,
and other sims. What is still missing is an in sim ping latency
meter or value such as XvT, Janes LB2. Also is missing is
the very fun user definable chat/taunts that ive grown to love
inside of Janes FA. Its amazing what you can do with a binhex
editor for taunts inside of FA.
On the mission choice list, its very limited and I can see getting
bored within a month or so. Im led to believe DiD will follow on
with a mission editor (Coop multiplayer i hope). This gives Su27
Flanker and FA very long legs. Why DiD, GSC, IMagic, LucasArts,
Edios and the rest dont do this is beyond me. The extra effort
must pay off in product lifespan, I would think. But the 30 or so
missions that are there, are a good choice and are good for multiplayer
Lastly, the real issue: multiplayer in practice. Like I said earlier,
the legacy of EF2000 series is a proud one. Whether we talk TCP/IP,
Kali or Kahn IPX emmulation, or HEAT LAN - all enable 2 - 4, and upto
6 player multiplayer. This one factor has made EF2000 variants very
popular amongst military flight sim junkies. In fact the staunchest
most diehard and technically adept crowds are the EF crowd. I for
one love EF2000. Even though its not as detailed a flight sim when
compared to my first love Su27 Flanker, I have bought every version
of EF at least once (you addicts know what I mean). Well, the
sad truth with F-22 ADF is that it is a step forwards in graphics
over EF2000 G+ in realism, but is a step back in performance. Worse
yet is that it is two steps backwards in multiplayer connectivity.
I have had great 30 - 50 minute h2h and coop canyon runs with friends
all over the USA, UK, and Japan. Unfortunately I have been unable
to get the near warpless flights over TCP/IP with a 350ms ping in
ADF that I have had with EF2KG+. Get within 2 - 3 plane lenghts
and the warpage is very noticable. My guess is that all the testing
was done on a LAN, not over internet. What is new is that
this interfaces to IPX differently than EF2000. No socket/channel
callout before flying. This is good and bad. Good because we
all forget to tell each other all too often.
The bad is that now
the IPX over Kali/Kahn is very poor. TCP is more reliable. What
also suprised me, when I tried HEAT LAN, ADF recognized HEAT as
an Internet Service Provider choice. How it knew the difference
from Kali's IPX is a mystery to me. HEAT is virtual LAN with
performance between an ISDN and a 28.8K connect via Kali. So if
the conditions are right, you can get 3 or 4 going. This is also
true for Janes LB2. Other options would be other commerical
gaming environments like TENS or MPLAYER which I am not willing
to pay for.
You can get good 1v1 h2h gameplay, but the caveats are many:
- Pings must be <500ms
- No more than 2 player unless server is ISDN or Cable Modem.
(note, if 3 try with normal 28.8 - 31.2kb conx; then the
blue death occurs at worst - or - error message in sim at best).
- Do not CNTRL-TAB or CNTRL-ESC or else it will hang.
- Make sure you have the appropiate detail level on for your
CPU/memory/3dfx card configuration. (on my P133 40mb with
a 4mb Monster3dfx, medium details works well. Nothing compared
to EF2KG+ or Edios' JSF or GSC's HK performance). But then
again ADF has probably 10X the ground details. Ive noticed
that Janes LB2 is even slower at full details which is more par
with ADF graphically.
- You will also learn why 3dfx is called VooDoo. In my electronics
background VooDoo beads are used to fix the unknown oscillations.
Well, youll see some funky stuff in the 3dfx of ADF. It aint
- Turn off that bad music, it only slows down the performance anyways.
SUMMARY, THE BOTTOM LINE:
Apart from all that, I now fly F-22 ADF happily and almost never fly
EF2kG+ any more. Guess the canyon run got to me. The gunzo battles
are fun for a 1 vs. 1 senario. Any useage of Air2Grnd weapons bring
the performance to a halt, as does too much low flying near populated
areas. Otherwise, get a P2 300 and youll probably not see any of
these problems. I just think that setup is the norm yet.
So do I recommend this sim? You betcha. Is it worth while to wait
for TAW before you buy ADF? Probably --if your expectations are set
very high as are most of the junkies I fly with, or if you are
choosing a sim to replace EF2000 for squadron reasons. I won't send
my copy back. I'm enjoying it immensely. But I think DiD is at a
crossroads: if they deliver TAW with all that ADF lacks, their crown
is secure. If they fail, theres Su 27 V2, Falcon4, FN2, Janes F15 and
others biting at the bit. I for one would love to see DiD succeed!
For review reports and a summary of F22 ADF go to the ADF Page
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Last Updated December 31st, 1997