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Battlefield 1942 Review
developer: Digital Illusions
PIII 500, 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 1.2GB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Sep 10, 02
|» All About Battlefield 1942 on ActionTrip|
Let me ask you this: What good is a Rembrandt painting if you're as blind as a bat, or if it's smeared so much that you can't even see what's on it? Think about it, to enjoy a painting by Rembrandt, certain prerequisites have to be met - ideally, you shouldn't be color blind, but more importantly, the people at the museum (or the owner of the picture) should make sure that the painting is clearly visible and set under the right lighting.
In some way, things are much the same with Battlefield 1942. This is a brilliant game, and anyone who has played the demo will attest to that. It has it all - massive WWII battles, furious action, and more vehicles than you can shake a dead cat at. Nevertheless, this one will require a T1 and a beast of a machine to run this game half as good as the programmers intended it to.
I need to take a dump yonder. Be quick about it my son.
Remodeling the living room - WW2 style.
This brings us back to our Rembrandt painting analogy. What good is this 'promised' gameplay when the average gamer can't experience it fully, even with a beast of a PC and a DSL connection? There's something not right there. They let me look at the Rembrandt in a pitch dark room! Now do you see my predicament? How do I rate this game? Do I rate it for what it should've been or may be sometimes in the future, or do I lay it all down and eventually risk getting hammered by the die-hard fans? You know, this sort of thing drove Hamlet mad, and I don't want to end up like him.
No matter what anyone might say, the fact remains that BF1942 lagged heavily - even with the 1.1v patch installed, and as soon as my 1 GB of RAM was overloaded, my frame rate would go down faster than Janet Jackson on Justin Timberlake. I tried it all - Gamespy Arcade, the (GSA powered) in-game browser, all that shit. The best ping I got was 80ms; and guess what? The game lagged. One second I was charging the enemy and the next thing I know, I'm lying face down as the camera slowly zooms out, away from the battlefield. And as for the hardware reqs, I honestly thought that what I saw in the demo was just 'raw' code, and that I'll see none of that in the final version. Alas, I was wrong. The multiplayer (Internet) is bearable, but I advise you never to include any bots in any LAN games. The CPU and the memory load are just silly, and I played on an Athlon XP 2000+, 1 GB of RAM and a GeForce4 Ti 4600.
(Furthermore, I should warn you that it's customary for us here at Action Trip to review games as out-of-the-box experiences, and not comment on the patched-up versions. Hey, it's a competitive world, and if the publishers ain't cutting us any slack, I don't see why it would work differently the other way around. So there it is people - the straight dope. I'm fully aware I'll receive a shitload of flames for my comments but I stand behind my words.)
I won't even mention how "fun" it was to run a dedicated server with the retail version of the game. That thing just ate up all my resources in a flash. Maybe EA didn't prepare well for the launch, and maybe they underestimated the interest for the game somewhat. Frankly, I don't have a clue what caused such a lag-infested launch, but I do however expect to get my money's worth.
With all of that ranting out of the way, I should say that once the whole infrastructure behind this game is fully operational, Battlefield 1942 should become one of the most amazing WWII action sims on the market. Some people have been complaining about the rather dated graphics, but I beg to differ. In my opinion, the graphics look great; they support all the right bells and whistles and the physics engine is just phenomenal! The ballistics model is awesome, and it presents one of the most enjoyable aspects of the intense in-game atmosphere. The only other engine that surpasses Digital Illusions' achievement in terms of the quality of the physics model would be Illusion Softworks' Mafia code. Also, the texturing is very good, and the models are relatively high-poly - considering that under ideal conditions this game is supposed to be played on a 64-player server. The sound effects masterfully accompany the visuals, and are highly believable. The physics engine, together with the very good graphics and the highly realistic sounds truly recreate scenes of epic WWII warfare, where players can almost feel the ground under their feet and the stinging flames on their cheeks as a mortar explodes close by ripping apart a few of their rushing teammates. Add to that the abundance of tanks, airplanes and even boats, and you can only begin to imagine what it's like being in the thick of things on one such battlefield.
Digital Illusions has mixed just the right amount of action and sim elements to make the gameplay work. Granted, the bot AI isn't exactly smart; in fact, they're as thick as they get, but this is after all an online game. The transition between different types of vehicles is easy and seamless. One minute you'll be sniping enemy soldiers and next minute you'll jump into a Spitfire and raise hell over the enemy lines. Now think about all the amazing strategies that people will come up with for this game. Add to that character classes (engineer, anti-tank, assault, scout... medic), and a ticket-based gameplay (more on that a bit later) and the number of variables grows exponentially, making this game a Rembrandt amongst games - but, only if you can find a way to get around all the obstacles.
Gotcha covered... I think.
Oh no, not again.
Essentially, BF1942 gameplay comes down to moving the front lines in your favor and with as fewer casualties as possible. Whenever you occupy an enemy checkpoint you get tickets, and likewise tickets are taken off to the opposing side. However, if the occupation of enemy checkpoints comes at a very high price (shitload of casualties), you'll still be the overall loser as you've lost too many soldiers in order to reach your intended objectives. This system is excellently conceived and it's in a way very true to life. In addition, BF1942 offers four different modes of play: Team DM, Co-op, CTF, and Conquest.
As I said, a whole lot of variables, meaning plenty of possibilities for the aspiring map designers and mod makers. If EA and DI get the infrastructure right (i.e. the net code, server support, 3D code optimization), the whole Battlefield 1942 movement might grow to unprecedented levels. Then again, it may fail miserably - it all depends on how much support (i.e. money) EA is looking to invest into it.
Finally, I should say a thing or two about the maps and the in-game arsenal. The maps are diversified and well-designed. Axis players might complain about disadvantages on some, and Allied players on others, but overall, I think DI has done a good job on them. Certain maps favor armored vehicles, and some are designed with infantry clashes in mind. I especially enjoyed playing on the Berlin map. Its urban settings are a nice break from various outdoor levels located in the desert, and I gather with all the available cover it should be ideal grounds for an aspiring sniper like myself. On the other hand, some maps are just begging for a bombing run, but even those do not heavily favor one type of combat. The other side will always have AA defenses and of course, fighter planes of their own.
Out of all the weapons in the game, you could say that the Bazooka will probably be the most popular one, but then again that would largely depend on the terrain configuration. My personal favorite was the Allied sniper rifle, as I really enjoyed picking out advancing Axis soldiers and capping them (if the lag wouldn't ruin the whole experience of course...). When it comes to the weapons, the accent is on teamwork. People in the vehicles need to help the infantry, and the assault teams would be useless without proper support.
In summary, Battlefield 1942 is a massive and ambitious project. Most importantly, it's a hell of a lot of fun, too - but only if played under the ideal circumstances. It's the Rembrandt of video games, but for now, it's been smeared with some tar so that you can't experience it in all its glory. Once EA and DI get their act together (i.e. fix lag issues, hardware reqs, crashes, lackluster bot AI, etc.), this might very-well become one of the most popular online games on the market. Until such a time comes however, I advise you to wait a while before you rush to the store to buy Battlefield 1942 - that is unless of course, you're simply dying to play it, and you must have it at all costs! Telling such a gamer to wait and see what happens would be an exercise in futility, so I'm just gonna shut up and let you make up your own mind.
8.2 Very Good
A brilliant game. It has an intelligent gameplay concept, the design is superb and so is the physics engine. It also has great maps, weapons, VEHICLES, and sounds;
Some shitty net code (now you see my rocket, now you don't!); the game is a god-awful resource hog. Stupid bot AI. To put it simply, you need a patch and an uber-rig with an uber-connection to play this one right - and even then, you might experience some trouble. That's too much, even for a project as ambitious and gorgeous as this one.
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