Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII

Review

posted 9/9/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: PC
I was very critical of the Road to Rome expansion pack that EA and Digital Illusions put out earlier this year. When I heard that the second expansion pack, Secret Weapons, would add experimental technology such as a wearable rocket pack, I thought about packing my bags and giving up on the Battlefield 1942 universe entirely. Then I got my hands on the actual product and I must say that I’m satisfied with what the developers at Dice have managed to put on to store shelves, not impressed, but simply satisfied.

For starters the guys at Dice took some time to ensure that this wouldn’t be just another expansion pack. The problem with Road to Rome was that the new weapons were essentially variants of the weapons already available in the core game and the new maps were filled with designated kill zones that resulted in endless tag of war between both sides. This time around the designers were careful to ensure that both the maps and weapons would be a large escape from what players saw in the original game.

It seems like players have been craving weapons that are more accurate at shorter distances, hence the inclusion of a shotgun and some throwing knives. Apparently the Japanese were planning on using stealth ninjas had they ran out of ammunition towards the tail end of the war. The shotgun is perfect for people who like to ride in jeeps and transport vehicles and love to get up close and personal. These two weapons are pretty impractical on larger maps such as Kursk but are definitely worth using in tight maps such as Berlin. As I mentioned earlier there is a new rocket pack that can be used to transport players over short distances. When used properly it can give the player a Tribes-like advantage over their opponents. This is especially effective when dealing with close quarters battles as it gives you that extra boost while circle-strafing. Its implementation is a bit shaky at the time as players can be seen warping over various environments but a little tweaking of the network code could make this a real favorite amongst players.

For people who really want to get up into the clouds there are two jets at their disposal. Each side has two variants of the same-style jet that is aimed at quick hit-and-run attacks. The only difference comes in the payload, the Allies jet, the Goblin, is armed with a lethal machine gun that is capable of tearing up infantry. In contrast the Axis jet, the Natter, is armed with rockets that will wreak havoc on mechanized units. Both of them have their own downsides but are very effective when used properly. Strangely enough the role of each side’s more powerful planes are reversed. The Allied Whiteworth AW-52 is an effective tank killer while the Axis Horton Ho 229 is excellent at serving up death to those hordes of infantry. Last, but not least, is a cargo plane that serves as a mobile spawn unit for your troops. This is an excellent way of dropping troops onto unsuspecting enemies; the only problem is that it can be shot out of the sky like any other aircraft.

Remember how annoying it was to ride in that jeep that had no way of defending itself? Well no more, thanks to a new motorcycle that comes with a requisite machine-gun mounted sidecar. When used with an effective driver, players can wreak havoc on infantry units. Best of all players can strike a large group of enemies and escape before mechanized units can come in and blow them to smithereens.

Speaking of smithereens, there are some new tanks to cut your teeth on. Essentially they serve as mobile wrecking machines as they have the potential to take out legions of enemies on their lonesome. No longer are tanks exposed to those pesky bombers, the Flakpanzer comes an AA gun that will make quick work of those buggers. There’s a new Sherman tank that comes with both a devastating cannon and a destructive rocket launcher. It’s one thing to come around a corner and meet up with a tank, it’s another thing to stare down the barrel of a heavy cannon and a rocket launcher. Diapers not included.

Secret Weapons adds eight entirely new maps, most of which may seem out of place for those who have yet to exhaust the full features of the expansion pack. Taking a slightly more realistic nod than some of the weaponry, the maps all seem logical and feature countermeasures for both side’s advantages. For instance, on maps that feature plenty of aircrafts the designers had the foresight to sprinkle the landscape with anti-air guns and tanks. To add more replay value this expansion includes a new objective-based mode that plays much like the one in EA’s Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Essentially one side is saddled with taking out a target while the other is supposed to defend it. Most of the time the aggressor usually ends up losing, basically because people seem to have a hard time getting on the same page. It’s definitely a worthy addition that you’ll want t play over and over, just make sure that you’re playing it with the right crowd or you’ll grow tired of losing.

As a whole the expansion does what it should, adds new features and replay value to the universe. There are some parts where I can’t help but feel that the designers could have worked on, especially when it comes to differentiating the various weapons from one another, but on the whole, it’s a solid package. It’s not exactly within the same vane as the original game and while purists will probably be up in arms over the impurities that it brings to their battles, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t give this one a try.



B-
It's a worthy addition to the franchise, although the additions will be hard for some purists to stomach. It adds just enough to keep the game fresh while keeping just enough to lend an air of familiarity to it all. Definite purchase for hardcore enthusiasts, possible purchase for those who are on the cusp.


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