Lets cut to the chase. To me this is hand down one of the best MODs created for a Multiplayer. Of course many would argue Counter Strike would still take that spot. In a way yes, but for a grand scale of Multiplayer action, I always lean on to Desert Combat, the MOD created out of Battlefield 1942. So what makes it special ? Well, for starters the MOD re-imagined the original game completely from the ground up and made it look like an all new game with no traces of BF1942 seen. Imagine taking a World War based shooter and doing a complete overhaul by incorporating modern weapons, modern vehicles/Aircraft and to top it all, a super slick Helicopter whose mechanics never existed in the original version. This was never achieved by simply switching out the original weapons with modern ones, but by painstakingly creating them and balancing them, every single aspect of it.
What amazes me to this date is how well it plays. The mechanics with the tanks, fighter jets, helicopters have that magical touch to them. There aren’t too real (which would make it boring in my opinion) and aren’t too arcady as well and has that right sweet spot. I am yet to see a modern game that offers the simplicity and depth of Desert Combat and that’s why it still keeps winning my heart. I remember reading that the Modders never had an underlying mechanic to base the Helicopter mechanics off (why would they, since the World wars never had Helicopters in combat) and had to rely on the Plane’s physics and tweak it to the extent it felt right. The helicopter and the Aircraft is sort of a love it or hate it affair in Desert combat but once you get a hang of it, it feels damn right and you would have a blast flying it and taking out enemies from above. You just need to bear with that initial learning curve. Given the age of the game and the lack of sophisticated animations, the game would appear clunky but tear that layer apart you have a great game underneath. The way the controls work between WASD and the Mouse to control the pitch is magical. There are remarkable differences between each of the aircraft and the helicopters on how they take off and behave while in air. You fly a Little Bird which is super agile and quick to respond and then jump into an Apache or a Black Hawk, you find that stark contrast on how they behave. You immediately notice that heft with an Apache or more so with the Black Hawk and it takes it sweet little time to respond to the inputs and you need to plan your moves ahead. You really need to plan your choice of vehicles for the combat and orchestrate them accordingly.
The little bird in action- Just look at the way she flies!
The feel of Desert Combat in many ways is like a CS 1.6 ( I am not comparing them directly) where the simplistic feel and a well crafted mechanics is what that makes the game so addictive. It is one of those classic design ideologies where when you have a fun mechanic that plays like a dream, visuals never fully matter. Games or MODs like these simply prove that ideology. Games in the modern days have gotten unreasonably complex for some reasons and that usually worries me to a point I just cannot fathom the trend. This also transcends into the way we develop some of our games and we constantly have a take a step back and dial down the complexity and make it accessible and easy. For some reasons the modern day designers have been leaning away from the KISS principles.
Summing this post up, I just wish to see a remastered version of DC some day without messing with the underlying mechanics and gameplay of course. This is just to please the modern pair of eyes we have been wearing!