Battlefield: 1942 is a new game based on the ever-popular WW2 era. The selling point of this game is not just the genre, but also the gameplay, which is advanced for any type of action game. Multiplayer has been improved dramatically from other shooters, as up to 64 people can play on one server - compare that to Day of Defeat (DoD), the closest match, with only 32 people per server.
There are four theaters of war, as described above (North Africa, Germany, Russia, and the Pacific). In each area, you can choose to be the Axis (Japan in the Pacific, Germany everywhere else) or the allies (Russians in Russia, British in North Africa, Americans in Germany and the Pacific). Each side has their own vehicles, but they are all remarkably similar. You have your light tanks-Sherman tanks, light Panzers, Japanese Chi-Ha tanks, and the Russian T-34/85- with a small gun, low armor, and a MG on top. You have your heavy tanks-M10 Wolverines, Tiger Tanks, T34/76s, etc.-with LOTS of armor, but no Anti-Air capabilities. You have your Half Tracks-all, again, REMARKABLY similar. You have your Jeeps- good suicide bombers, as going at full speed at a light tank and jumping out before you hit usually takes out the tank. You have Mobile Artillery- ultra cool in Multiplayer, because Scouts can target a location and the Artillery can target and fire at it. You have Bombers with machine gun turrets, Anti-Ship torpedo planes, Fighters like the Spitfire and Mustang, Submarines, Destroyers, Higgins boats-and they are all usable!
Submerge in a submarine while your target gets you on his radar and starts launching depth charges. Have dogfights with 4 or 5 planes. Gun down soldiers landing on Omaha Beach. Sneak to the rear of a Panzer, shoot a rocket at it, and watch the fireworks. Hide in some bushes and snipe enemy infantry advancing on your position. The possibilities are endless!
The graphics in this game are very well done, but when you get to a personal level- i.e. in a halftrack with some other soldiers- the faces can get kind of scary. They are realistic, but on that effect it’s pretty weird. The vehicles are rendered very well, and when you are in a tank, you have a small window-view that a real tank driver sees, with the barrel of the gun on your right, as the pilot’s seat is located to the lower left of the gun. When you are in the back of a half track, like I said, you can see your fellow riders’ faces, but also if there is a guy manning the machine gun, you can see his legs, swiveling around if he is turning, and you can see the casings of the bullets when he fires. When you are in a plane, you have a little dashboard, and can see the propeller out of the cockpit. If you press forward, the propeller starts up and goes. If you release the forward button, then the propeller stops, usually resulting in the plane making a large crater and you having to eject. Also, when you are in vehicles, you can change the view from a First-Person to a third person chase to a third person forward (with the camera in front of you).
The sound is also done very well. On the opening introduction and menu screen, there is military-sounding music that sounds very good, with big brass instruments and drums and all sorts of other military instrument-things. Once in the game, however, there is no music, but you don’t really need it anyways. Gunfire and explosions are loud enough, not to mention that if you are in multiplayer there will be thousands of people yelling radio commands over and over and over again. But the radio commands are good, anyways. They range from requests for air support to the simple, “Take cover!” And they are done in five different sets, with 1 set per country (well, I guess “British” isn’t really a language, but whatever.) So if a Japanese soldier yells, “Go, go, go!” it comes out in Japanese. Luckily for non-Japanese/Russian/German speakers, text of the broadcast (in English) appears on the side of the screen.
There are a couple undesirable parts of this game, too. Emphasis is definitely taken off of infantry. In DOD, there are about 8 different classes, including Riflemen, Support Gunners, Sergeants with Thompsons or Carbines, Snipers, Paratroopers, and Machine Gunners. In Battlefield: 1942, the classes are reduced to five - Assault, Scout (snipers), Anti-Tank, Engineers who can plant explosives and mines, and Medics. But if you get in a vehicle, your class does not matter. No vehicles - not even the jeep - allow for you to poke out your gun and shoot. So, unless you spend a lot of time on the ground, you’ll hardly even notice it.
Another bad part of the game actually involves the vehicles. As I said earlier, many of the things act exactly like each other, even when, in real life, they are nothing alike. For example, a light Panzer and a Sherman Tank are both “Light Tank” class. In real life, however, Panzers were YEARS ahead of US tanks. They would not have been equal. Close, maybe, but not equal. However, it could just be me, as on the Battlefield: 1942 website (www.battlefield1942.com) it gives historical overview and does say they aren’t equal. But even if they are different, most vehicles and weapons are re-used, except in special circumstances.
All Allied teams use the US Half-Track and US Willys Jeep, except they all have different colorations. Heck, the entire UK land forces are just U.S vehicles with a desert pattern and the British Flag (come to think of it, that is like real life, so I’ll allow it). But the Japanese didn’t use those little German Volkswagens that you see German officers riding around in, and Russians didn’t have U.S. jeeps. Also, the infantry weapons are completely reused from country to country, with 1 set of Axis weapons and 1 set of Allied weapons.
Overall, I give this game an 8 out of 10. Nice graphics, cool interface, realistic sequences, great sound, and great vehicles make this a superb game, but the copycat weapons and vehicles lower it.
Written by James Shea
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