Battlefield 1942 is the classic multiplayer shooter that started the now widely popular series. If you haven't yet caught the news, it celebrates its 10th anniversary this week, and in a move that's come as a surprise to many, Electronic Arts and DICE have released it free of charge via Origin. It's guaranteed you can download the game free here and keep it forever until March – after that it's not completely certain one way or the other what its status will be.
When you do download the game (and you should, since it ages unexpectedly well), you should know playing it today is a little different versus 10 years ago. As such, this guide is intended to explain and optimize the experience a bit – read on if you're curious.
First thing's first: quit playing in 800x600. Assuming you're on a reasonably high resolution monitor and using 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio, you'll want to navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Games\Battlefield 1942, search for 'Video', then, for any instances of “game.setGameDisplayMode” you find in each of the files (open with Wordpad), adjust the values afterward to match your native resolution. For example, if your native resolution is 1920x1080, change the 800 (or whatever you see) to 1920, and the 600 (or whatever you see) to 1080.
Each time you do this, exit and save the file, then right click it, click Properties, check the 'Read-Only' box, click apply, then exit – this is to prevent the game from overwriting your values and preventing you from utilizing your desired resolution.
Note this is not guaranteed to work, but you should be fine unless you have a really uncommon resolution. Eyefinity and Surround users should note a multiple monitor setup does not work well – it's said major stretching can be observed if you try, and the sky and ground are switched.
Field of View
Merely increasing the resolution isn't going to provide the ideal visual setup for a recent monitor: you'll also want to up the Field of View, so you have a reasonable amount of peripheral vision, and also optimized screen real estate (as depicted in the comparison above).
To change your FOV, head to C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Games\Battlefield 1942\Mods\bf1942\Settings, open VideoDefault.con, and change the renderer.fieldOfView value to 1.33333 if you have a 16:9 monitor, or 1.2 if you have a 16:10 monitor.
Various forms of anti-aliasing can be forced at the driver level via the AMD Control Center (presumably, it also works fine with NVIDIA's methods). This is recommended, as the difference over what you get by default is pretty significant, as you can see via the screenshot comparison below.
To force AA, simply boot AMD Control Center, click the Gaming tab, then 3D App Settings, change 'Use application settings' to 'Override application settings', then tinker with the various options and sliders you find under the two Aliasing sections for the desired effect. Once done, click 'Apply'. If you'd like to set this up specifically for Battlefield 1942, click the 'Save' button at the top and navigate to BF1942.exe to store the profile.
If you do choose to force AA, note Morphological Anti-aliasing (MLAA) blurs menus significantly, but otherwise seems to be the most effective method of reducing jaggies. Also note none of the options hinder performance on modern hardware.