After months of incessantly playing Medal of Honor, it seemed like nothing would break the spell that game had over the local LAN. With interest in World War II at a recent high with the release of Band of Brothers on DVD, it seemed that anything that would topple MoH would have to be WWII themed.
When Battlefield 1942 arrived, the battle was pretty much over.
Battlefield 1942 is at its heart a multiplayer game. There is not much of a single player game to speak of, so don’t expect a rich storyline or complex mission goals like in MoH. What you can expect is a John Woo-style look at WWII combat. The only thing missing is the ability to fire two pistols at the same time.
Battlefield 1942 is more of an arcade game than a real simulation. Although the weapons are accurately rendered, they don’t really perform exactly like you would expect from a simulation like Strategy First’s World War II online. This is not a bad thing, but it is something you should know going in.
Graphically, there is not much that can compare with it in the shooter genre. You can play in just about every theater of operation from the Pacific to Europe to North Africa too.
A game consists of two teams of people trying to capture strategic points across a map. If your side alone occupies the zone of control around a flag, eventually it will turn into the flag of the nation you are playing. If someone else is in the zone from another country, the flag will be white to signify that it is in dispute. Each side starts with a certain number of points, or tickets, that begin counting backwards to zero as the game begins. The more flags you control, the slower the ticker ticks down. The side that still has tickets left when the opponent reaches zero, wins. So all games have a defined ending, and there is always pressure to "take the next hill" or "defend your stronghold" to slow your dropping score. It makes for some action-packed combat.
When you are on foot, the game is pretty fun. You can be a medic, sniper, assault troop, engineer or heavy weapons (anti-tank) soldier. But the real fun of the game is the fact that the maps are littered with just about every type of vehicle imaginable, and you can hop in and control them all no matter what your starting profession.
There are 35 different vehicles in the game. Everything from battleships to tanks to airplanes can be piloted, driven or flown. There are also several fixed locations in most maps like anti-aircraft guns which can be manned. Some vehicles also have multiple stations, so one player can drive a half-track while another works the heavy machine gun in the turret.
If you love vehicles, or just blowing them up, then this is the game for you. Hop into a jeep and go full-boar through enemy lines, then jump out and rush a headquarters building. Or pilot a bomber off an aircraft carrier and take out a slow-moving convoy. You can even parachute out of your airplane if things get too rough. Flying is probably the hardest part of the game and takes a lot of practice to become proficient, and even more practice to become efficient as a knight of the air. Driving on the other hand is extremely easy. You will hop into a German Tiger or American Sherman and be zooming around the map in no time, all with realistic physics for the vehicles in question. You can even jump some of the faster vehicles Duke of Hazard style and take out enemy troops like it was Carmageddon or something.
The game is designed for up to 64 people to be able to play at the same time, though this number is highly dependent on the type of server and available bandwidth. In extensive testing, it was a lot more fun to play on the local LAN where we knew the bandwidth constraints. Joining a game online is a craps shoot, but this is the way of any multiplayer game. And thankfully, we have not seen any cheats yet of the kind (infinite health, one shot kills, unlimited ammo) that has made playing Medal of Honor so frustrating online.
There are no new maps to play on just yet, but the game ships with about 15 different ones, some of them quite huge, so you would have to play for a long time to get bored with the different terrain features.
If you don’t have a speedy connection, the game will helpfully spawn opponents for you to fight and people for your own army. This can give you a feel for multiplayer without having to actually find a game. The AI is silly at times with entire units just standing around not doing anything and too deadly at others, with snipers hitting you from beyond your line of site, but for the most part Digital Illusions does a great job "faking" a multiplayer game and should be highly commended.
The one negative comment I have heard is that the interface is a bit slow, especially when running around on foot. I guess people are just used to games like Half-life and Quake where you glide around the maps at warp speed. To some extent this is true however. Just try walking from one end of Iwo Jima to the other and you will see what I mean. Also, the game is very memory and bandwidth intensive. On the LAN things ran great, but online you will be lag-killed, it’s just a matter of how often and to what extent.
Battlefield 1942 is certainly the most action packed WWII game out today, and is a paradise for vehicle fanatics. It’s so nice to find a game where all those cool vehicles are used for something besides scenery. The game earns 5 GiN Gems for a fantastic multiplayer experience.