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Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII

Battlefield

The original Battlefield 1942 was superb, a groundbreaking game that stormed the world of videogames. Its addictive gameplay and awesome multiplayer battles attracted huge attention from gamers and a vast community formed around it. How could EA improve on such a critically acclaimed game? Expansion packs of course!

Unsurprisingly, Secret Weapons of WWII‘s main focus is weaponry. DICE have recreated vehicles that were still in development at the end of the war and thus never saw action. Other vehicles were used during the war, but weren’t featured in previous games. Let’s start with the aircraft. The US and British forces have the McDonnell F-85 Goblin, the smallest jet fighter ever produced which zooms around the skies hunting enemy planes. Its four machine guns rip apart enemy aircraft, but are almost useless for ground attacks. The Armstrong Whitworth AW-52 is the opposite; a huge, cumbersome flying wing fitted with bombs and machine guns. Also included is a C-47 which acts as a mobile spawn point, allowing troops to parachute into enemy territory. The Allies’ air force isn’t outstanding, but it gets the job done. The Germans get the Natter Rocket Aircraft which looks like a V1 with a cockpit. Its speed and rockets can be devastating if used well, but to counter this it only has a limited amount of fuel. They also have the Horton HO 229, a single-seater fighter-bomber similar to the AW-52, but more agile. Also included is the V3, a Wasserfall Guided Rocket which is almost impossible to control, but destroys anything it comes into contact with. A quick mention also goes for the Rocket Pack, which infantry can use to hop around the battlefield while fuel supplies permit.

Both teams get motorcycles with gun-mounted sidecars. While unarmoured, they provide a quick way of getting across the huge maps to the action. One of the coolest additions is the Allied LVT4 Water Buffalo; an amphibious APC equipped with two machine guns. Also able to cross water are the German Schwimmwagen and the Allied Commando Raft. The humble Sherman tank gets modified brother in the T-34 Calliope fitted version. This replaced the turret machine gun with a rocket launcher. Both of its weapons are devastating, but they cannot be used accurately at the same time due to recoil. The Germans have the new Flakpanzer, an AA emplacement on wheels. The driver cannot fire the main guns, but instead is given a rather ropey forward firing machine gun. The US forces receive the T95/28, an enormous super heavy tank that eats tanks for breakfast. Its main gun tears apart enemy armour, let alone any unfortunate infantry who also happen to be around. The German Sturmtiger is a giant mortar on wheels, primarily an anti-infantry weapon for removing those though patches of resistance. Both large tanks aren’t invincible though; suffering from low movement speeds and – due to their almost fixed guns – a vulnerability on their flanks.

The drivers don’t get all the fun though. Allied engineers receive a Remington Shotgun, lethal close up but awful at long range, while their opponents get a grenade launcher which fits on to the end of the Mauser K98. Both sides receive knives which can be thrown or used for hand-to-hand combat. Online, it’ll end up as the ultimate humiliation kill but otherwise, these are last-ditch defenses. The British Assault class now comes equipped with Bren light machine guns, effective against both aircraft and infantry. Their opposing Assault troops also have a new weapon, the Gewehr 42 assault rifle. Allied medics get a silenced Sten Mk2 which is surprisingly accurate at almost any range. German snipers have one of the best weapons though, a semi-automatic sniper rifle, the Gewehr 43. Believe me, this is going to be a popular choice online. The new weaponry could have been devastating, making the old models obsolete, but this is not so. DICE have paid particular attention to detail and have made both sides perfectly balanced.

Eight new battlefields have been included to provide somewhere for us to unleash all this new weaponry. Six of them feature a new Objective mode where the Allies must destroy objectives instead of capturing them to succeed. Kbely Airfield is the first map, where a group of British Commandos have to storm the airbase and its surrounding towns to win. It’s a night raid and the Allies are given little armour to assist them, but it can be done if teamwork is applied throughout. Telemark is a non-so-accurate recreation of the attack on the Norwegian plant which was creating one of the ingredients for an atomic bomb; heavy water. It’s also a night attack and the British Commandos are given C-47s to parachute out of, and makes it a diverse and fun level. Mimoyecques is similar to the Omaha level in the original game but is far more open. US forces have to assault across The Channel and capture a facility developing the V3 guided rocket. Unlike Omaha, troops can attack from the air and sea, making it a thoroughly enjoyable map. The Gothic Line is perhaps the worst of the new levels, a dull assault on a set of fixed Axis defenses.

Hellendorn was the level included in the game’s demo and will therefore be the most familiar with players. It’s an attack on V2 facility in snow-covered Holland. The action revolves around a hill town and it makes for some interesting battles. Essen is an airborne daylight assault by British Commandos on a town with it’s adjoining weapons factory and is one of the better maps in Secret Weapons of WWII. The Eagle’s Nest is the Allied attempt to capture Hitler’s Austrian home. Finally, Peenemünde is the US attack on the infamous weapons facility where the V1s and 2s were developed. It’s enhanced by a strong amphibious element as the level consists of a series of interlinked islands. All in all, the new levels are well designed, but a few of them could have done with a bit more imagination.

The same ‘rock, paper, scissors’ gameplay returns and it’s as good as ever. Taking fire from an anti-aircraft battery? Then bail out, capture a tank and blow him off the face of the earth. Teamwork is crucial to gain victory as usual; as commanders found out in the real war the hard way, a combined assault of infantry, armour and air support will always win the day. As in the original game, 64 players can compete online on every map and again, it’s an awesome experience. No more Medal of Honor-style ‘one man verses the world’ situations, this is a full-on war.

The graphics engine is essentially the same as the original game’s and the same goes for audio. The detail is again outstanding and the sound effects make it seem like you’re in Saving Private Ryan. Of course, the quality of both areas depend on your hardware setup, but the game seems more forgiving in terms of the required specifications than most. I won’t dwell on these two areas though since it’s so similar to the original game. Battlefield 1942 already has huge replay value and Secret Weapons of WWII extends it even more. I’ve been playing it for 7 months now without expansion packs or mods, so who knows how long it will last with some!

Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII sounded slightly crazy when it was first announced and I can assure that it definitely is that. However, the core gameplay that we all love hasn’t been ruined and there’s more than enough reasons to justify a purchase. If this is the last expansion pack for Battlefield 1942, then the series has certainly gone out on a high.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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