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The Slacker's Guide - Improving on a Classic: Forgotten Hope

by Chris Barylick
November 23rd, 2005

Say what you will about the mod community, especially given that their work goes largely unnoticed on an individual level. True, the project might be something they'll be able to put on their resumes, but there's hardly any fame, fortune or attractive members of the opposite sex at the end of the tunnel. Still, they have a game they love and work to make it even better.

In the case of Forgotten Hope, a mod for Battlefield 1942, the effort is on the verge of being a complete success.

As entertaining as the original Battlefield 1942 was, there was room for improvement. Gameplay, which was naturally fun, seemed almost like an arcade experience wherein units took far more damage than they would in real life. Items, scenarios and vehicles, while satisfactory for the average player, seemed a bit generic. Bring in a group that wanted to make the look, feel and play style as realistic as possible and there's potential for something good here.

Forgotten Hope picks up where Battlefield 1942's creators arguably left off, bringing in new weapons, models, items, vehicles and levels to create an almost entirely new game. While visual overhauls are par for the course in the mod world, some extremely clever work has been done with the game's hit modeling and damage ratios. No longer can a soldier take three direct hits from bullets and merely lose a quarter of his life. In Forgotten Hope, a direct shot to the head or chest will kill an opposing unit while a hit to an extremity such as an arm or leg will remove approximately half their life.

Lining up a shot from a seized anti-tank cannon in Forgotten Hope.

Vehicles, which are the heart and soul of Battlefield 1942, have undergone several changes in the mod, too. Not only has the team worked to provide realistic details available within each battle, but changes have been made with regard to armor layouts and overall vulnerabilities. A tank, while formidable from the front, will have weaker armor toward its rear, thereby encouraging players to flank it, adding new tactical elements to the game.

Practically every basic unit in Battlefield 1942 has been overhauled, the new mod featuring new vehicles, weapons and unit classes for each level. If something was there in the historical version of a battle, odds are it'll be in the game. New units such as the Russian IS-2 heavy tank, the Japanese Ha-Go light tank, the American Sherman A3 tank, the P47 Thunderbolt, the British Ark Royal aircraft carrier, PT boats (complete with torpedo launchers) and the German Tirpitz battleship make gameplay feel completely new.

Attacking an aircraft carrier with a torpedo ship.

New combat classes such as a pilot with only a parachute, knife and hand gun make things interesting while revised weapons for the typical unit classes offer something new to play with. Finally, deployable weapons such as heavy machine guns allow players to modify their terrain and defend otherwise weak areas of the map and be seized by opposing forces to press their advantage.

If there was one thing Battlefield 1942 ever lacked, it was an element of suspense thanks to the almost arcade-style feel of the game play. If your unit was shot, a respawn was only seconds away and the player could emerge to hose down enemies in a hail of machine gun fire.

Heading toward an island to reinforce a capture point.

With Forgotten Hope, physically weaker units and more realistic World War II era weaponry actually attaches a feeling of suspense to gameplay. With more fragile units, a unit's life means more and the player approaches an unexplored area with greater caution. While this may be somewhat more frustrating to be on the receiving end, it's amazingly satisfying if you're able to catch an opponent off guard. Combine this with revamped weapons such as anti-tank rifles and few things are quite as fun as going prone, lining up the shot and taking out an unsuspecting opponent from 300 yards.

Forgotten Hope is still a work in progress and some bugs remain to be fixed. The most noticeable (and actually the only ones I really ran across) seemed to be errors in the map loading screen where the battlefield map would be a solid white frame or the description would only read "WespeBattery" instead of the actual summary. The program, while easy enough to install thanks to well written documentation, requires the user to choose the "Custom Game" menu from Battlefield 1942's main screen and load the Forgotten Hope mod from there.

True, it'll be nice to see these bugs worked out, but if these are the only problems you face out of a game this fun, then there's almost nothing worth complaining about.

Even though the game's amazing, you're going to have to make the effort to get it. Forgotten Hope is over 2.2 gigabytes in size and has been divided into four segments on the Web site, where users can freely download the files provided they take a few minutes and create an account. The files, which are over 700 megabytes for the first three segments and 100 megabytes for the fourth, will take several hours and it's give or take as to whether you can simultaneously download all four segments. The segments are as follows (1, 2, 3 and 4).

Forgotten Hope requires a full copy of Battlefield 1942 to run, which retails for $38.99 through Players will need a Mac running Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later with an 867 MHz or faster G4 processor, 1.6 gigabytes of hard disk space, a video card with at least 32 MB of VRAM (Radeon 7500/GeForce2 MX or better) and a DVD-ROM drive to run. If you've seen anything new or interesting in the Mac universe, please e-mail me.

Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.

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