'Battlefield 1942' (PC) Review

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Daemon Poster
'Battlefield 1942' (PC) Review

Overall Rating 5/5

For a long time team-based online games have been dominated by the militaristic "CounterStrike" and its ilk, and the fast-paced action games of the "Quake" and "Unreal Tournament" variety. This week on "Extended Play" we look at "Battlefield 1942," a game that not only manages to synthesize these two play styles, but adds in several new elements that put this title in a class by itself.

Battlefield 1942
Platform: PC
Developer: Digital Illusions
Publisher: Electronic Arts
ESRB rating: Mature
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

"Battlefield 1942" consists of 16 maps in four theatres (four maps per theatre) of World War II. You join a game on the Internet or load up the single-player campaign, choose a side and class, and start the fighting. In addition to standard team-based first-person shooter action, "Battlefield 1942" incorporates the brilliant gameplay concept of vehicles and other machinery.

Keep 'em fighting!

You can operate or drive just about anything that's not nailed down in this title. Jeeps, tanks, fighters, bombers, carriers, battleships, submarines, truck-mounted rocket launchers, anti-aircraft guns, coastal batteries, machine gun nests, and most any other type of WWII-era equipment you can think of is available for the taking. Even more shocking is that they all control exceptionally well, and each has a variety of uses in each map. Tank bearing down on you, but you're all out of explosives? Ram it with a jeep. Convoy of enemy units heading right for your base entrance? Spin that coastal battery around and shell the roadway to scatter them. The variety present in the gameplay is truly impressive.

Equally important to the gameplay experience is map design. Even with all the vehicles to use, it would be meaningless without well-crafted battlefields on which to compete. Luckily, nearly every map in the game is brilliantly designed, featuring multiple skirmish areas, choke points, key positions to capture, and incredibly strategic terrain variation. No two maps feel the same, and multiple games on the same map will often unfold very differently. Especially worthy of note are the superb Wake Island and El Alamein maps.

Sightseeing in the trenches

All of this looks exceptionally good on a high-end machine, with excellent geometry and above-average texture work. "Battlefield 1942" is scalable, so even those with less powerful PCs will be able to run the game well. The visual package is rounded out with detailed character and vehicle models populating the environments. With a bit of experience in the field, you can easily tell what kind of plane is about to come screaming over your position simply by doing a quick visual spot check.

The sounds of war in "Battlefield 1942" are not up to the high standards of the "Medal of Honor" titles, but they hold their own. You'll know if you're in a battle zone by the gunfire and explosions that rock the immediate area whenever fighting breaks out. The sound uses stereo panning very well, so it's relatively easy to figure out where shots are coming from, even when they're coming from an unseen foe.

One word of caution regarding the sound: "Battlefield 1942" can be very picky when it comes to sound cards and certain sound settings. If you're encountering problems running the game, especially online, try tweaking various sound options to improve performance.

Although it has standard capture-the-flag and death-match modes, "Battlefield 1942" is best when played in Conquest mode. In Conquest, each team begins with a certain number of "ticket points," and the object is to capture and hold key flag points on the map. If a team holds a certain percentage of a map's points, its opponent will lose ticket points. Hold the territory long enough to reduce your enemy's points to nothing and you win. The nature of the mode allows for nearly infinite variations on strategy and promotes teamwork to a great degree.

What is your major malfunction?

Ironically, the biggest flaws in "Battlefield 1942" stem not from the game, but from the people playing it. The team-based gameplay seems to confound a good number of players online. You'll often find yourself stuck walking because your teammates wouldn't stop in their jeep to pick you up, or you'll be unable to get anyone to bomb or shell an artillery target you've spotted. It's extremely frustrating to lose a match because half your team was sitting out on the airfield waiting for a plane to spawn. And just as a public service announcement: Knock off the team killing, people.

However, when you do manage to find a good group of players, "Battlefield 1942" is a beautiful experience. Two well-organized teams with good communication habits can become embroiled in pitched battles that can come down to a difference of less than a dozen points in the end. Conversely, a united team of players will invariably steamroll an unorganized rabble.

"Battlefield 1942" also features a rudimentary single-player mode that's mostly pointless. It can serve as a decent tool for familiarizing yourself with the maps, but the bot AI is so utterly brain-dead that the fun is simply sucked out of the proceedings. If you're not planning to play "Battlefield 1942" online, you probably shouldn't buy it at all.

Gamers who are looking for a unique and fresh take on the squad-based online genre shouldn't hesitate to pick up "Battlefield 1942." Indeed, everyone who likes multiplayer combat should have this title on their must-buy list. Expect "Battlefield 1942" to pop up on a lot of "Game of the Year" lists when the dust has settled at the end of 2002.

I give Battlefield 1942 a 5/5.
it really is a great game... I played the living day-lights out of it for 3 months straight...

I gave the cd back to my friend...

now 8 months later I want it again!

Its really a great game and if you manage to get into an organized clan the fun increases 10 fold.
GET THE DESERT COMBAT MOD ! Geesh ! Its BAD ASS ! You get all MODERN weaponry. You can fly the f14 f16 a-10 harrier etc etc. WW2 guns SUCK ! Modern Warefare is where its at !
Was this review stolen from "Extended Play"??? Isn't Extended Play a show on Tech TV??

Yes...BF1942 is a great game!! Especially multiplayer!!
only multiplayer don't you mean.

Single player blows goats. the worst AI i've ever seen. All the time while playing with bots i see enemys jump into jeeps.... and just idle there... braindead.... or you'll see them running against a wall, or whatever.

multiplayer kicks ass.
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