Battlefield 1942 was groundbreaking when it was released. The vast maps with both on-foot combat as well as vehicles which include but are not limited to tanks, jeeps and planes. With the servers down as of this review, is the first game in this massive franchise able to hold up?
There is a campaign mode in which you can join the Axis Powers (Germany/Japan) or the Alliance (USA, GB and Russia), however, it doesn’t matter what you choose. You always play on the same maps in the same order and you won’t get any reward for completing a campaign. The only difference is equipment and where you can spawn. The transition between missions are done with a bit of text, telling you the results of the battle (which won’t affect anything) and the premise of why you fight on the next map. This is basically it and that’s a shame. Having a campaign that is influenced whether or not you win the battles and maybe change the course of history, that would have been much more entertaining. Is the campaign fun? Yes, but that is thanks to the gameplay and not because of the “plot”. The game tries to “motivate” you for playing the campaign mode more often by rewarding you with medals, but these medals are worth nothing, they do nothing and they’re just placebo.
The gameplay aged, but still holds up pretty well with the exception of a few scratches here and there. The vehicle controls are still great and shooting is fun. Let’s start with the basics though.
You can shoot, zoom a bit in (no matter what weapon you use, with the exception of the sniper rifle/binoculars with which you can use the scope), crouch or lie down for increasing accuracy, enter vehicles with E, control said vehicles and conquer enemy bases for map control. Each team has “tickets”, if one player dies, the ticket counter goes down by one. However, if one side has total map control, there will be an continuous decrease in tickets. If one side has no tickets left, they loose. This is the only mode in the entirety of Battlefield 1942 and it’s not bad, the game was designed around that mode and that mode only, which is good. Many of the maps are tons of fun to play but there are a few that are just outright tedious.
Before you spawn, you can choose one of five classes: Scout, Assault, Anti-Tank, Medic and Engineer. Each class brings new weapons with it and, depending if you play Axis or Alliance, the equipment changes. All classes are equipped with a knife and a pistol, but the main weapons and bonus weapons are the biggest difference. The scout uses a sniper rifle and carries binoculars while the medic carries an assault rifle and can heal himself and others with his recharging med kit. The assault also carries an assault rifle (though a different one) and has lots of ammunition at his disposal. Each class brings something new to the table, even though the medic is underused. This game did not yet introduce reviving or bonus points for assisting others, also this game doesn’t have ammunition packs yet that you can throw on the ground, so that others can stack up on their ammunition. The ammunition bags are on set locations on the maps so you’ll have to find those first. The supporting play of this game is not yet developed and I personally didn’t find much use for the medic other than sneaking through enemy territory, trying to keep myself alive as long as possible.
This is basically a summary of what you can do but keep in mind that while every class seems similar, everything plays pretty differently. For example, I prefer playing engineer when I’m on Japan’s side, but there I dislike playing Assault. When playing for the US however, I like playing as an assault but not as an engineer. The same applies to vehicles as well.
There are three more gameplay things I would like to talk about:
First: When reloading you throw your entire magazine away instead of just refilling the bullets.
Second: The inaccuracy while standing is probably the worst in the series.
Third: The submarine is only available in multiplayer.
Of course, since the servers are down, there is no multiplayer. The campaign can be completed in probably 4-6 hours and while the maps offer replay value, it’s just not enough. The AI is REALLY bad and raising the difficulty just determines how annoying the AI can be (reaction time, accuracy, seeing through walls). Does the difficulty actually make the AI better though? No, allies still shoot you in the back, kill each other and do some really stupid stuff. Luckily, this game has LAN and this game can absolutely rock LAN parties, give it a try.
Overall though, Battlefield 1942 just doesn’t offer enough content without the online multiplayer on which this was built around. It’s nice to play for a round or two but that’s about it.
There are a grand total of two pieces of music in the game (four if you include the intro theme and the “Secret Weapons of WW2” intro) and they are the main theme or remixes of the main theme. While these pieces themselves aren’t bad (they’re certainly memorable), only having two songs in the game is a bit disappointing.
This game doesn’t hold up in any aspect in terms of graphics. The physics are wonky, character models look very outdated and the facial expressions are always a joy to look at. Is this game ugly? No, it has a certain charm to it. It’s not purely realistic nor does it have some extremely artistic design. It fits the game and while it looks extremely outdated, it’s still quite fun to play.
What does this game do good for it’s genre?
It opened up new ways to expand the FPS genre, most maps are very interesting to play, the gun play is old-school but still holds up for the most part, generally the gameplay is very solid and having, relatively speaking, so much variety in each class is great too. This game is also lots of fun for LAN parties and you can get some replay value out of this game by experimenting with bots.
What could have been improved?
While I think that this game shows the right way on how to do the Battlefield singleplayer right, the campaign itself is a disappointment here.
There is not enough content here, the submarine should have also been usable outside of the multiplayer and the game could use some modern physics treatment.
Supportive classes have no real use yet and helping others isn’t rewarded. Some maps are tedious and annoying, also why are there only two songs in the game?
Battlefield 1942 is still a surprisingly good game, if we talk about the gameplay alone. Other than that we have quite a few problems: A shoehorned campaign, the gameplay isn’t refined yet, there’s overall a lack of content and the singleplayer alone can get boring quite quickly.
Do I still recommend this game? I can do that for fans of FPS games. I still think that the idea Battlefield 1942 had for the singleplayer is still the best way to handle the singleplayer experience of Battlefield. I had lots of fun replaying Battlefield 1942 and if you want to play a game that was considered revolutionary at the time or if you just want to experience the roots of a successful franchise, then go ahead.
4 (higher if the online multiplayer would still be there)