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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G4 @ 867 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 1600 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Battlefield 1942: Deluxe Edition
August 10, 2004 | Gordon Hurd

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Since the gameís release on the PC in 2002, BF1942 has been hailed primarily for its multiplayer game play. This holds true for the experience on the Mac platform. The single player campaigns offer good opportunities for new players to practice at driving the many vehicles, testing the capabilities of the various weapon kits, and getting to know the maps. But, the gameís AI is not overly challenging and sooner or later a player with a few campaign scenarios under his or her belt will need to test his mettle against other humans.

Once hooked into a game of BF1942 players, how much fun one can have depends on a number of factors. Vehicle action definitely takes high priority in making a game of Conquest or CTF an exciting experience. Each vehicle offers a different ride and each vehicle type has its particular role and function in a game. Tanks offer great defense capabilities but can also be formidable aggressors, pummeling a teamís line of defense with high caliber destruction. Jeeps offer players a fast way to get around some of BF1942ís massive maps. Airplanes provide excellent scouting capabilities as well as cover for slow-moving tanks.

As well, the type of troop a player chooses provides plenty of variety. Be a medic and carry a light sub-machine gun, a medikit and a few hand grenades. Be an engineer and youíll carry detonation packs, landmines and a rifle. Anti-tank troops carry bazookas. And so on. While BF1942 is hardly a strategy game, players that want to win matches definitely do need to use their head, cooperate, and strategize about the best combinations of kits and vehicles. Still, opportunities for plenty of single-minded, slapdash mayhem exist in spades, and it's the choices that make the game so much fun.

Visually, BF1942 offers an immersive experience into the different faces of World War II battles, and this too contributes to the success of the game. Each theater has its distinct character, while also providing satisfying variety from map to map. The desert-based maps of North Africa can be mountainous and expansive like El Alamein or Gazala (two of my personal favorites) or can be small and intense like Battleaxe and Aberdeen. Similarly, the Italian maps in the included Road to Rome expansion pack can be of bleak, rocky, king of the hill style like Monte Cassino, or a map like Operation Husky that offers beach, hill, and village battle landscapes. The graphics are solid and itís often hard not to just stand around and look at the sky, mountains, sand, and water.
Sound, too, plays a big role in the immersive qualities of BF1942. Listening for approaching tanks, planes, and jeeps can be a key function in defending a position in a conquest map or hankering down for an oncoming assault for your flag in CTF. All the vehicles and weapons have distinct sound signatures and the game developers should be recognized for paying close attention to this feature.

For all that BF1942 offers in consistently satisfying game play, graphics, and sound, there are some quirks and challenges to the game that can be less so. If youíre not equipped with a recent Mac desktop or laptop, you may find BF1942 difficult to play. Players in forums have remarked sluggish performance on computers with 1ghz processors. Though there isnít a consensus on whether that sluggishness may be due to the computerís performance or lag on servers online. Either way, to enjoy the full capabilities of the game, itís recommended to have an 867mhz or better processoró but 1ghz to 1.25ghz, is more realistic. Similarly, Aspyr recommends a video card with 32mb of RAM. This may work on the lowest settings, but 64mb is a much more capable setup, and even then works best on the gameís medium settings.

And while I applauded the ease of use of BF1942ís server browser in my preview, I have to call it out for some inexplicable quirks in the final version. Sometimes the server browser just does not work--particularly, when applying filters to weed out cheater havens, private games, or high ping servers. When it doesnít work the browser, just doesnít return any servers and youíre forced to clear your filters and start over again. Granted, none of this requires a lot of time or effort, but itís annoying and can add unnecessary steps to getting into a game (where all the fun is).

In summary, itís good to consider a few things that Battlefield 1942 is not. This is not a strategy of the real-time or turn-based variety. This is not a flight simulation game. This is not a war game that thrives on technical or historical accuracy. If youíre looking for any one of these single experiences, you may be disappointed. But that disappointment is hard to imagine. Despite some slightly limiting technical requirements and a temperamental server interface, Battlefield 1942 is a game that offers aspects of many game styles and genres in one slick, arcade-based package. Ultimately, what contributes to the gameís success is how much variety and how many choices it offers players. Each map can be played in a slightly different way, each approach can be countered another. When one considers the amount of mods available from the still thriving PC community, Battlefield 1942 should offer Mac gamers nothing but choice and variety well beyond the typical life span of a game title.

While I think itís safe to say that war is indeed hell, a game like Battlefield 1942 can definitely make hell seem like a lot of fun.

Battlefield 1942: Deluxe Edition
Publisher: Aspyr Media
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