Written by John Yan
on 11/11/2002 for
Ever since the release of the demo, Battlefield 1942 has been a game that I was really looking forward to. You had to be impressed by the amount of vehicles that you could drive and the nice size of the levels along with manning various offensive weapons. It really did do a great job simulating a war. Now that the final version is out, I have to say that it does some things great while it falls well short on other aspects.
Battlefield 1942 offers sixteen maps in four theaters of war. You can do battle in North Africa, South Asia Pacific, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe. Offering both single player and multiplayer aspects, Battlefield 1942 gives you two different map objectives and three different multiplayer modes. Most of the map objectives have you taking over control points. Once taken, you can spawn there after dying. Control points can be taken back and it’s this back and forth action that leads to some very intense battles. But controlling specific areas shouldn’t be the only objective in this game. A wider variety of goals are what Battlefield 1942 needs especially with the environment that the game takes place in.
At the start of each map you choose a class to play until you die. You get to choose from a medic, engineer, scout, assault, and anti-tank soldier. Each class is armed with a different weapon along with having different skills. Medics can heal, engineers can repair various objects, anti-tank carry rocket launchers to take out those heavy vehicles, assault are you basic grunts, and the scouts can snipe and do reconnaissance work. Once you perish, you can change class and spawn points for your next life. A spawn time counter gives you the indication of when you can pop into the game again.
Not only are there different classes but also there are different nations you can represent. Depending on the map you can choose from five armies: American, German, British, Russian and the Japanese. Each nation also has some specific vehicles that are unique to them. Battlefield 1942 features a plethora of vehicles to control. Besides tanks and jeeps you can take control of planes, boats, aircraft carriers, and even submarines. Each country’s vehicles have a distinct look so you can tell what kind of vehicle is being driven. They also have different characteristics as some tanks have more armor then others while some handle differently. Most vehicles allow you to carry a few extra soldiers with you to help you out. For example, a partner can man one of the tanks machine guns while you control the tank’s main gun while driving. For those big maps, you can haul a group of troops in a truck to the engagement site instead of hiking it on foot. Besides being able to drive the aircraft carrier, your allies can hop into various heavy guns on the ship itself to launch shells at the enemy. Some, of course, are launching points for airplanes. The ability to maneuver the ship around is just one of the many examples of how Battlefield 1942 tries to give you with as much to do as possible.
The various planes do perform differently as some are more agile than others while some are bombers and others are gunners. A problem is that the bombing physics are off. By this I mean that depending on how your plane is traveling when you drop a bomb, it can fly up and hit you. What should happen is once you drop the bomb, it should fall away from your plane no matter how your plane is moving. It is fun flying around having dogfights in the air and strafing the ground though. You get some really good satisfaction mowing down a few troops or taking out the aircraft carrier with bombers. To really fly planes, you should probably attach a flight stick or gamepad to your computer instead of trying to use the mouse and keyboard. A nice touch is that the actions you can map to the keyboard are separated into land, sea, and air categories. You can easily map your keys depending on the mode of transportation you are using.
Maps range from enormous fields of engagement to close combat situations. The variety of maps is great and some of them are really done well. The architecture in some of the city levels is amazing with a nice attention to detail. There are times however where a team can take over the only spawn point of the other relatively easily and control the level until the enemies’ tickets run out. It can be a really frustration experience to spawn only to be gunned down before you have a chance. Needless to say once it gets to that point, you just hope the level ends quick.
On certain maps, there are various weapons that you can use to take out the enemies. For instance, the Omaha Beach map has some machine gun nests to fend off ground troops, flak cannons to take out planes, and heavy mortar guns to sink boats. In the demo, the machine gun nests were deadly weapons that mowed down troops. If you opened fire too long, the gun would overheat and you would have to wait for it to cool down. It seems in the final version you can’t take out anybody before the gun overheats. Before they were deadly and useful. Now you’ll be luck to take out one or two people before they charge into you. The same seems to be said for the machine guns on tanks. I’ve had many instances where I unloaded on a soldier only to have them survive the onslaught of bullets. I don’t know why DICE changed the way machine guns work but it really does take away from their usefulness.
The single player experience is somewhat lacking with horrible AI. The fun of Medal of Honor single player was having competent computer companions albeit some were scripted really well. In Battlefield 1942, the AI’s ability to play as a team is sorely lacking. Frustration sets in when your teammates don’t help out or just wander around on their own agenda. I’ve had a few instances where I was sitting in the machine gun turret of a tank controlled by one of the AI soldiers who felt it was fun to just run into the side of the building over and over again.
Multiplayer is supposed to be where game shines but it’s far from perfect. For one thing, the net code is really in need of work. I’ve had many instances where I would have my crosshairs on the character as we circle strafe around only to unload a clip and a half and not have the person die. I tried bursting with a machine gun and that didn’t seem to help much either. There were times where I could take out an enemy troop and have a few bullets left in the clip but that was few and far between. And you can forget about sniping a moving target. It’s pretty much the luck of the draw in trying to snipe a person running across the field and sometimes even the stationary targets take a few shots before the bullet actually hits the enemy. When someone pilots one of the large aircraft carriers, the game can turn into a slideshow. I’m using a cable modem and even on servers with a ping of 50 I experience horrible lag when this happens. The network code really needs to be addressed, as it is too inconsistent right now.
In fact, the more I played the game as a foot soldier the more I got frustrated. Damage dealings are also inconsistent. A few of my friends tested this on a closed server where they would stand next to each other and shoot at their heads. One screen showed a blood splash and a grunt from the enemy while the person who got shot showed 100% health. I’m a big online game player and I’ve spent numerous hours in Medal of Honor, Counterstrike, Unreal Tournament 2003 and so on. Of all those games and ones I didn’t mention, Battlefield 1942’s net code was the one that frustrated me most and it wasn’t even a close contest.
While the game does specify that 64 players is supported, I rarely found a server with more than 32 as that seems to be the limit on how many players can be in the game for it to run smoothly. It’s too bad really as this is one game where it screams to have as many players participate as possible. In my opinion, you need at least a team of five on each side to enjoy most maps and some will have you searching the enemies for long periods of time before you see any action.
Battlefield 1942 does do a great job at immersing you into the environment through great graphics and awesome special effects. Just running down the road and seeing dirt fly up from a dropped bomb next to me gives me the sense I’m in the middle of a war. All the vehicles are modeled wonderfully with great details in the textures used. The soldiers are also done well. While they don’t look as nice say Medal of Honor, the soldiers in Battlefield 1942 have great animation and look good enough that I don’t have any complaints about it.
Because of the amount of detail in the game, you’ll need a beefy machine to run it. I tested the game on an Athlon XP 2200+ with an ATi Radeon All in Wonder 8500 and it ran extremely well. If you’re one of those that require at least 60fps all the time, better spring for the latest hardware out there.
Bugs are very evident in this game if you read the EA forums. Crashes were sparse on my machine but I didn't experience as many as some people were saying. Charlie even had problems with the game running dog slow on his machine only to have it smooth out when he disabled sound. He even tried enabling and disabling the hardware acceleration for sound but to no avail.
The game has too many flaws as it is for me to play consistently. There are many improvements that need to be made and the upcoming patch does address some issues. I’ve read that an expansion pack is already in the works and I hope DICE reads some of the feedback to try and make this game as best as it can be. The great implementation of the vehicles is the saving grace for Battlefield 1942. Combat with hand-held guns is just too frustrating most of the time. It’s still fun with the right conditions and DICE did do a lot of things right that makes Battlefield 1942 a very popular game. In the end, there are just too many flaws that make me have a love/hate relationship with Battlefield 1942.
Battlefield 1942 goes to great length in providing a great multiplayer experience but itâ€™s hindered by the less then stellar network code along with a lack of variety in missions. Its too inconsistent online and there are many issues that need to be addressed to make this a game that I would play in the long run. Letâ€™s hope patches can fix them soon.
Rating: 7.8 Above Average
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. After writing for a few different sites that went under, it's nice to bring back a site that's not dependent on revenue and just wants to deliver news and reviews of products.
I'm married, and enjoy first person shooters, sports games, and real time strategy games.