Which WW2 shooter should you buy?

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Aspyr Media seems to have cornered the market on World War II-themed first person shooters, what with the Medal of Honor Series, Call of Duty and most recently, Battlefield 1942. Many gamers are on limited budgets, however, which has left some folks wondering which one of those games is right for them. Personally I'd pick up all three, but I understand that not everyone can drop a couple hundred bucks on games whenever they feel like it. So here's a breakdown for you that might help you decide how to spend your budget.

Medal of Honor is the oldest game in Aspyr's arsenal, and as such, it's been re-released in a "Deluxe" version that bundles the original game along with the "Spearhead" expansion pack. Both games are set in the European theater of operations; the original runs from 1942 through 1945, and the expansion pack focuses on key battles fought from Operation Overlord onward.

The third expansion pack, Breakthrough, just started shipping at the end of May. This new add-on brings you to the desert sands of North Africa and later to Italy. Most players agree that Breakthrough is the superior expansion pack compared to Spearhead. If you haven't gotten Spearhead, or if you did and were disappointed, rest assured that Breakthrough runs better and is overall a lot more fun and challenging. And at $30 (presuming you already own Medal of Honor, which is necessary to run the game) it's the cheapest of the bunch too.

The one downside of Medal of Honor is that it's getting a bit long in the tooth. And if you haven't already gotten the game, it's going to be an $80 investment to get the Deluxe Edition and Breakthrough. So if you're starting from scratch, there's a new kid on the block that looks and plays better: Call of Duty.

Although it's been around for a bit on the PC, Call of Duty was just released for the Macintosh last month, and it is outstanding. Much of the same creative team that developed Medal of Honor defected to create Call of Duty, and the results show -- it looks better, sounds better and is more challenging than Medal of Honor, and some of the limitations of the Medal of Honor series have been overcome with Call of Duty, too -- like better level design and more intense action. Call of Duty takes a slightly different approach by putting you in the role of three different Allied soldiers -- American, English and Russian -- as they take on different parts of the Nazi regime.

I'd highly recommend Call of Duty to anyone looking for the superior single-player experience. It sports plenty of multiplayer capabilities too. But multiplayer is what the next game in this list is all about: Battlefield 1942.

Battlefield 1942 won't hit store shelves for a few more days, but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on if you're looking for the ultimate in World War II-themed "arena" combat. While there's a single-player campaign and bot-driven combat mode that will keep you plenty busy as well, where this game shines is in taking on other players online in massive environments complete with vehicles you can operate: Dive bombers, for example, or fighters, amphibious assault vehicles and battleships. Tanks, jeeps and half-tracks (almost three dozen, all told).

Because Battlefield 1942 has already been around on the PC for a while, Aspyr has managed to create the Mac version as a "Deluxe" edition that bundles an expansion pack called the Road to Rome. So in addition to fighting in Europe and the Pacific, you also get environments, weapons and vehicles from Italian and Sicilian World War II campaigns. Battlefield 1942 hits shelves on July 2nd.

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