Battlefield 1942's water, though not the greatest we've seen to date in games (eg. Halo's), is handled nicely by the game's engine. It adds to the overall ambiance correctly, not too shiny/bright (Tribes 2) and not just an impediment (other FPS: Half Life, Quake, etc..). My only complaint is its lack of transparency until you get close to the shore.
The obvious requirement of outdoor maps in a WW2 game can put many games to shame, but Battlefield's engine: the Refractor 2 engine, displays those historical locales with grace and beauty. Most of the game's maps are true-to-life, or at least re-create the original battle in such a way as to bring you back to the early 1940's.
Battlefield's explosions are some of the coolest we've seen in a first-person shooter. For instance, if you fire a tank-shell near a group of soldiers, you'll see their pathetic remains fly farther than Jessie Owens in the Olympic triple-jump. The water-based explosions are nifty as well, nothing beats dropping pairs of depth-charges off of the stern of your destroyer.
It's not often that you get to see airplanes in a first person shooter, and even when they are present, the flight mechanics are almost always overly simplified and unwieldy (Most notably: Tribes 2). Battlefield 1942's airplanes are able to loop, roll, and even fly up-side down for miles. When you're hit by enemy flak or you take a few .50 bullets, the airplane will lurch forward and spew black smoke from the rear; now there's only one thing left to do, eject! As you fall from the sky, you'll appreciate the fact that you can steer your 'chute towards the nearest friendly base. The guys at DICE pulled off flight with flying colors, no pun intended.
Battlefield's orchestrated soundtrack is nothing short of invigorating. The patriotic beat of the music gets you ready to fight as maps are loading, or you are browsing around in the game's gui. My only complaint on the music of BF1942 is the fact that you cannot enable it during gameplay!
Do you remeber when you would hear the artillery shells exploding, and MG 42 fire going off in the background of movies such as Saving Private Ryan or docu-dramas like Band of Brothers? Well, imagine those sounds again.. but that they're actually happening! You could be standing next to your team's newly captured flag when you hear a tank shell whiz by your left side; all you can do is run, because the next one won't miss.
Some system conflicts
It doesn't matter how hard I try reinstalling drivers, rebooting my computer, and flicking off the monitor, I cannot seem to get Battlefield running on my second box (Athlon XP 1900, 512 Megs DDR 2100, and GeForce 4 4200). It just doesn't want to work on that computer, and to add fuel to the flames EA hasn't responded to my Technical support request yet (it has been over three weeks).
Battlefield tends to have less-than-favorable packet-loss in a lot of their servers. This, admittedly, is a problem easily fixed by future patches, but it is an annoyance we'll have to deal with until then.
Wether you're rumbling through the streets of Berlin in a tank or going for a joyride in a kubelwagen, Battlefield brings a whole new level of fun to ground vehicles. The guys at DICE were going for arcade-style physics rather than a true-to-life simulation when they added the following land vehicles to the game:
Mk.IV Panzer (Axis)
M7 Priest (Allied)
M4 Sherman (Allied)
M10 Wolverine (Allied)
Overland Jeep (Allied)
VW Kubelwagen (Axis)