Battlefield 1942: The Road to Rome Review

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Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Digital Illusions

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: Requires Battlefield 1942

Battle already rages in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. Now, Battlefield 1942: The Road to Rome expands the war to include six new battles from the Sicilian and Italian campaign. This is an expansion to the original Battlefield 1942

Kyle Ackerman

Battlefield 1942 gave us an impressive, WWII-themed first-person shooter. Essentially a multiplayer-only experience, Battlefield 1942 dramatically advanced objective-based team play, with land, sea and air vehicles that any player could operate simply and intuitively. Battlefield 1942: The Road to Rome uses exactly the same, successful formula, while adding a few more battles and vehicles.

At it's heart, Road to Rome buys you six more battles than the original game's sixteen. All of the theaters of war from the core game remain unchanged (with the exception of patches available for the original game). Any changes and new vehicles in Road to Rome only appear in the six new battles, which include Operation Husky and the Battle of Anzio. If there is any disappointment to be found in this expansion, it is that none of the new vehicles or weapons have been added to any of the battles from the original Battlefield 1942. That's hardly surprising – as it stands, people who only purchased the game without its expansion can still play all the original battles, and the developers avoided the nasty process of balancing all the new armaments against the previously included weapons of war in each map.

New vehicles are really the highlight of the Road to Rome expansion. One of the strategic issues in the original game is that a team in a tank (such as the PZKfW Mk IV Panzer) is vulnerable. The driver, with a maneuverable turret, could last as long as the armor held, but the second crew member was exposed while manning a machine gun. It's hard to get strangers on the internet to cooperate as a team, let alone form an organized force combining armor and infantry. As such, having the second gunner is sometimes the difference between life and death at the hands of a hostile engineer. Of course, coaxing someone into that seat is nearly impossible when they are certain to rest in a sniper's reticle. The new tanks in Road to Rome (such as the M3 Grant and the Italian M11-39) offer more powerful secondary turrets that give the second crewman significant, and sometimes complete cover. This makes the additional gunner a far more attractive and useful position. Part of the trade-off is that the primary gun is much less maneuverable, making tank operation more challenging and fun.

The ordinance from Battlefield 1942 is still used in Road to Rome, but the dramatically different tanks are joined by howitzer emplacements, half-tracks with anti-tank guns and a variety of new aircraft. It's difficult to compare the efficacy of the new aircraft to the old – in the hands of a competent pilot, air support wreaks havoc with ground forces. Often, they are still just a fast taxi to a distant flag or a flaming wreck in the hands of an untrained pilot. Some of the hand weapons are slightly different, as well, but the one that actually makes a significant difference only helps engineers in Road to Rome. In place of a knife, engineers can now use a rifle with an attached bayonet. Instead of the right mouse button zooming in on distant targets, it stabs with the bayonet. This means the engineer can still shoot while retaining the ability to stab. It's not much, but it helps a bit against assault troops with machine guns.

Two new armies, the French and the Italians, add a whole set of designs, and voice commands, which are as well implemented as those of the original armies. The new battlefields still look great, but are uneven in their execution. Many of the original battlefields are incredibly impressive in that they cover a large area with varied terrain, and yet manage to create a balanced field of play. The Road to Rome battlegrounds are much more symmetrical (such as Monte Santa Croce) or rely more heavily on bottlenecks (like at Monte Cassino) than the original. These new arenas only seem weak in comparison with the original maps, and the new vehicles more than make up for any perceived shortcomings.

Battlefield 1942 is a great way to while away your online hours, and has won myriad awards and honors. If you played the original and want to add a few more maps for variety, Road to Rome will satisfy that craving. Battlefield 1942's sixteen maps were easy to recommend for the original $50 price tag, and Road to Rome's six maps for an additional $20 are a worthwhile addition.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on April 7, 2003 8:45 PM.

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