In Battlefield 1942, you can fight offline with decent but unspectacular computer-controlled bots. Online, you can play in four different game modes against up to 64 players at a time. Realistically, you'll usually find servers capable of handling only 32 players, at most. Even with that reduced number, and even if you have the game's first patch installed, have a cable Internet connection, and get a ping in the 50s or 60s, there's a good chance you'll experience some lag or choppiness. Trying to shoot bazookas at tanks, which will suddenly appear elsewhere because of lag, isn't exactly enjoyable.
But when you manage to make a good connection to a powerful server, Battlefield 1942 has lots to offer. For instance, the game's popular conquest mode, where each team tries to capture and hold various control points on the map, can be great fun. The control points are set at strategic locations, like ruined villages or outposts with bunkers or heavy machine-gun positions, making them a challenge to occupy.
Bodies will quickly start filling the fields and streets, which leads to one of Battlefield 1942's more interesting features. Each team is allotted a certain number of tickets at the beginning of the match. You can respawn within a few seconds of dying (the exact time varies) to reinforce your team, but for every death, your team loses tickets. When the enemy holds a certain number of control points at once, your team will also start losing tickets. When your team runs out of tickets, you lose the battle. This system is a welcome compromise between some of the other death-and-respawn systems found in other shooters. In Battlefield 1942, you don't have to sit out around and twiddle your thumbs when you're "dead," yet you're still usually penalized by a brief wait, and because of the ticket system, every death ultimately affects the outcome of the battle.
Every time you enter the battlefield, you get to pick your respawn location. At the minimum, you'll usually get a main base that always remains under your team's control, but you can also respawn at control points that currently belong to your team. Each time you respawn, you also get to choose from five character classes, each with a number of distinctive weapons and abilities. The scout gets a sniper rifle and can help direct long-range fire from the big guns with his binoculars. The assault class gets a powerful light machine gun or assault rifle. The antitank class gets a Panzerschreck or a bazooka. The medic wields a submachine gun and can heal himself and his comrades. The engineer can lay mines and explosives and repair vehicles and stationary weapons.