reviews\ Oct 2, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Battlefield 1942 - PC - Review

After getting a glimpse of Battlefield 1942 at this year's E3 I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy to review.  Well, I finally have and, as expected, this game has turned out to be very impressive on every front.  By combining strategic combat with explosive action, the multiplayer Battlefield 1942 will undoubtedly appeal to a wide variety of gamers.  Whether you like realistic combat games, first-person shooters in general, or even air/tank-sim games, you'll most likely enjoy playing this game.

Battlefield 1942 puts you in the shoes of a newly-recruited solider during World War II.  You will be sent off to four primary battle fronts: North Africa, the Pacific Theater, Eastern and Western Europe to help defeat the enemy forces.  Once you get into battle you (at one time or another) will have access to 35 different vehicles, 20 different weapons, and as much action as you can handle.  This game is unique because it allows you to choose different roles in each battle, including sea-based, air-based, and land-based.  So you may decide to be a pilot in one case, but the next battle (or even the next time you spawn) you can hop in a tank or man an anti-aircraft gun.  There are also six different player classes, including assault, medic, scout, anti-tank, and engineer, each with different attributes and abilities.  This awesome flexibility really makes the game shine.

This isn't your average shoot 'em up game either, it's oh-so-much more.  This is due to the highly realistic characteristics of the game.  You have to play like you're actually in battle.  If you're not careful when out in the open, you'll be hit before you know it.  Also, it's not easy to run and shoot accurately, so sometimes you have to crouch or prone to get the kind of accuracy you need to take down enemies.  If you're looking for a new game that allows you to run around shooting like a mad man (or woman) - I'd recommend passing this one up.  Battlefield 1942 takes both a great amount of strategy and the ability to respond quickly.

Bearing a Teen ESRB rating, Battlefield is a fairly graphic game, but surprisingly, EA Games has decided to leave the blood out of it.  I was actually fooled in this respect, as the lack of blood went unnoticed due to the extraordinary amount of action.  For example, it's not uncommon to see bodies flying into the air from blasts - and sometimes they do fly quite far!.  This is a game that veterans may want to avoid even looking at, since it so accurately portrays actual war scenarios.  It's really pretty intense at certain times, especially for a video game.

Battlefield revolves around the concept of control points, which are bases that can be taken over by either side.  If taken over, the enemy's tickets start to slowly decrease until they reach zero, which is when the battle ends (this rate varies from map to map).  Tickets also decrease every time a soldier is killed, so the key is to hold as many control points as possible and then be careful not to let your men get killed.  Control points also act as spawn points if you or a member of your team dies, so they are always very important.

Single-player campaign mode allows you to take part in sixteen total battles on either the axis side or the allies side.  By participating in these battles, you can change the outcome of the war.  This mode has no scripting, so every time you play it you will have a different experience.  It's is a great place to start as it lets you get a feel for the game and gives you an opportunity to see all it has to offer in terms of environments, vehicles, etc.

Once you get the hang of the game, it's time to get into multiplayer mode, which is the most exciting part of the game.  There are four modes to choose from, including: conquest, co-op, team death match, and capture the flag.  Conquest is exactly the same as the single-player mode, since the goal is to reduce your opponents tickets to zero by both holding control points and killing them.  Co-op allows you to join up with other human-controlled players against AI players.  Team death match and capture the flag and just like traditional FPS game modes as they require you to kill the enemy as much as possible and capture the flag as many times as possible, respectively.  Battlefield allows for up to 64 players to participate in one battle, which makes for some incredible action.  This is assuming that you have a broadband connection though, as 16 players is the recommended maximum for dialup users.

Multiplayer mode allows for more strategic tactics to be performed, since playing with human players obviously has an advantage over doing so with AI players who don't always cooperate.  Using the keyboard communications it's very simple to plan and coordinate attacks.  For example, you may first send in your scouts, who will report back the situation using binoculars / remote cameras.  Then, depending on what's necessary, you could send it tank and air support followed by assault troops, while snipers could take posts further away from the target.  Pretty cool stuff!

Actual military vehicles are plentiful in Battlefield.  You can drive Jeeps, APCs, light and heavy tanks, and more.  Within each of these vehicles you can take multiple positions too (e.g. you can be either a gunner or the pilot).  However, I was disappointed that you cannot shoot while in a Jeep, even if you're the passenger.  Aircrafts included are fighters, dive bombers, and heavy bombers.  All Sea vehicles found in the game (except a few of the enemies larger crafts) can be piloted and include: aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, and LCVPs.  Also keep in mind that these vehicles vary depending on which country you happen to be in that battle.  If a vehicle is destroyed it will respawn near a control point soon after.

The controls are surprisingly simple even though you can do so much within the game.  However, controlling an aircraft using the keyboard/mouse combination proves to be fairly difficult, but it's possible with a little bit of practice.

I would highly recommend picking up this game because there's really nothing else like it out on the market right now.  Battlefield offers a WWII experience that is so real it's sick.  If you're not ready to purchase it, at least check out the multiplayer demo that's available.

Battlefield 1942 comes with 2 CDs and requires an immense amount of hard-drive space to install (1.2GB).  A patch has already been released for the game so you'll need to download that in order to play online.

Gameplay: 8.5
The gameplay flexibility of and variety that Battlefield allows for really makes the game what it is.  Never before have we been able to take to land, air, and sea so seamlessly in one game.  Instead of being just another typical first-person shooter, Battlefield is almost like a simulation game, since it is so realistic.  All elements within the game behave like you'd expect them to, including the soldiers themselves.  It's not a game that gives you unlimited ammunition and allows you to blow up tanks with your machine gun.  Having the ability to choose your role in combat is also nice, and since this decision can have huge effects on the gameplay it's also very strategic.  The communication system allows for further strategies to be employed with a few button presses.  Since so many players participate in each game, Battlefield is action-packed and always exciting.  One complaint, however, is not having the ability to blow up or damage structures.  Since the game is so realistic in just about every way, it surprises me that it's not possible to do this.  Also, in single-player mode, the other (AI) soldiers could use some work.  When they're constantly jumping in and out of vehicles, it just doesn't seem quite right.

Graphics: 9.5
Wow.  That one word pretty much sums up the visuals in this game.  Taking advantage of the proprietary Refractor 2 3D engine, battlefield looks absolutely incredible.  From the sky to the landscape to the insane amount of detail for every object, it's all the best it could possibly be.  The immense environments are what seem like exact replicas of the actual WWII battle theaters and every one seems to be somehow better than the last as you progress through the game.  Whether you start out on a ship in the middle of the Pacific, in the mountains of Gazala, or in the middle of Berlin's demolished cityscape, you will be amazed.  However, these large levels also result in very long load times.  When your in the middle of the action you'll see bullets/tracers whizzing across the screen, explosions off in the distance, airplanes flying above, and more - all in full detail.  The individual soldier animations are very fluid and realistic looking.  The land vehicles, boats, submarines and aircraft are perfectly modeled.  A significant amount of time was put into making this game look so good and it has definitely paid off in the end.  However, those with slower systems will not be able to take advantage of all of the game's full graphical potential or they'll experience significant slowdowns.  Battlefield has ample options to alter display settings, which allow it to be nicely tailored to just about any system meeting the minimum requirements.

Sound: 8
While in a battle, the sounds are amazing; from the thunderous mortar blasts in the distance to the unique sound that each gun makes, they all sound as real as can be imagined.  Hearing booms off in the distance getting louder as the enemy progresses toward you really keeps you on your toes too!  The howl of the airplanes' bombs dropping to land is also very cool, except when you happen to be the target.  I did have some problems with the sound using my hardware configuration, as during gameplay the game made hissing noises when certain sounds were triggered.  These annoying noises completely drowned out all other sounds and made it hard to play the game at all.  However, it seems that this issue has not affected many other gamers with different hardware configurations, which is the good news.  The main problem I have with the sound in Battlefield is the music, since one song is constantly repeated while in the menu system.  This battle tune gets extremely annoying after just a few listens and since so much time is spent waiting for games to load, it would be nice if there were multiple rotated songs.

Difficulty: Medium
In addition to having four modes of difficulty for single-player campaign mode, Battlefield's difficulty level can be further customized based on specific factors, such as the skill level of the AI, number of bots, and more.  As a result, this game can be tailored to just about anyone's playing level.  If set on the standard difficulty level, some battles take a great deal of work to complete, while others take significantly less and for me, this setting was just about perfect.  Compared to single-player mode, multiplayer mode is typically harder, but this obviously varies from game to game (depending on who's playing at the time).

Concept: 8
Having the ability to take part in WWII battles in such a realistic fashion is something that no other game has previously been able to offer.  Battlefield lets you play as either the Allies or the Axis on any of the battlefronts, which is a great idea.  As a result of the realism factor and the tremendous amount of innovation within the game, Battlefield has set a new standard for war games.  However, it seems that the mission objectives are not as diverse as they could be, since all battles require nothing more than taking over and holding control points to win.  Doing this from level to level gets somewhat monotonous and it would have been nice if certain missions were to destroy a particular object, find the enemy's plans, etc.

Multiplayer: 10
Playing on the same team as other humans is very refreshing after dealing with uncooperative AI teammates throughout the many single-player battles.  As expected, the online/multiplayer aspect of Battlefield is definitely its strongest point.  To give you an idea of what this game has to offer, imagine reliving the invasion of Normandy in its fullest detail with 63 other players online (64 total).  Keep in mind that you'll need a broadband connection to participate in such large games.  It may not be as intense as the opening scene in 'Saving Private Ryan,' but it's not too far behind either.  The internal GameSpy interface makes it extremely easy to find servers to join (the external GameSpy can be used to find them as well).

Overall: 8.7
You must get this game!


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