Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
We take it for granted now, but in 2002 I was still impressed that Battlefield 1942 was a multiplayer game that let you fly planes and drive tanks and jeeps. I was even more impressed that, unlike the previous year’s Tribes 2, it was possible to have fun in BF1942 without weeks of practice and planning.
It was the level design that was responsible for that, I think. While Tribes and other vehicle-based games gave you shapeless terrain, BF1942 offered a mixture of open land and tight urban spaces. This was obviously at its best on Wake Island, which was essentially a single horse shoe-shaped corridor that clearly directed players towards one another while still offering space for strafing planes and sneaky ocean shortcuts.
Obviously the game is primitive by any modern standard, but pottering with it now, it’s impressive how much of its moving parts feel good. Jeeps are nippy and bounced along the terrain; tanks fight usefully alongside infantry without being overpowered; sniper rifles and bazookas and anti-air turrets all feel great to control. It was easy to drop into BF1942 and have fun right away, no matter what your position or role.