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Review by: Richard Leader
Published: March 10, 2003
These days, it often seems as if the meaning of “expansion pack” is becoming a bit muddled as they are often priced nearly the same as their forbearers, or even turned into full fledged sequels in their own right. This shooting for the stars is not just hard on the wallets of gamers; it can have similar effects for those in the industry, as top heavy products tend to crumble under their own weight and never make it to retail. The Road to Rome is the logical extension to last season’s Battlefield 1942, following the classic model of expansions. Adding a variety of enhancements to the core game, it weighs in at just $20, overshadowing its companion strategy guide which sells for the same price.
New to the mix are French and Italian forces, which entail character models, native language voices, flags, and custom character icons for the interface, to indicate whether the soldier is standing or lying prone. Two personnel weapons are introduced, the Italian Breda Modelo 30 and the British Sten SMG, both flawed workhorses of the War. The engineer class has also been revamped and given the option of affixing bayonets to their long rifles. Under normal circumstances, the right mouse button will cause the view to zoom slightly for an aimed shot. In close combat, if the bayonet is equipped, the same action will result in a forward stab.
While The Road to Rome does not patch the program to the latest version necessary to play online v1.3 it does progress it past the official v1.2. Out of the box, it stands at v1.25, a version distinct from any the basic game can be patched to on its own. This includes many balance changes, such as reducing the damage done to tanks by hand grenades by a third, making the anti-tank class a much more viable and necessary occupation. Many players now default to it, considering the high priority given to heavy armor in many of the new scenarios.
A number of new vehicles and weapon platforms have also been introduced. The American M3 Grant and the Italian M11-39 Carro Armato might be inferior to many of the tanks that were pioneered in Battlefield 1942, but they do put a new spin on the gameplay: Each lacks a coaxial machine gun on the main turret, and instead relies on a secondary turret for proximity defense, so it is more incumbent upon participants to work together as a team in order to properly take advantage of the equipment. The German Sturmgeschutz was designed to support infantry, although its gun was upgraded to meet the threat of other tanks. While it might not rule the battlefield, its squat profile makes it an imposing sight for soldiers on foot.
Three new artillery systems are included: the German PAK 40 and the 25lb. British AT guns, both stationary cannons, and the American M3 GMC. The latter is a modification of the M3 half-track used as a personnel carrier, now serving as a mobile artillery platform that can move quickly along the front. It is also fitted with a rear firing machine gun, although its limited arc detracts from its usefulness in most situations. While not a particularly notable inclusion, the Italians receive their own version of a naval landing craft. With the addition of the German BF 110 fighter-bomber, the Axis has a nimble tool to suppress the efforts of Allied ground troops. The Allies have their own capable multipurpose craft in the British Mosquito.
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