Call of Duty: United Offensive Review (PC)

The first Call of Duty was created by Infinity Ward. They let this expansion be developed by the guys at Grey Matter. Amazingly, they managed to take the original game and make it even better. Call of Duty: United Offensive does exactly what expansions should. It takes the original game, and it expands it in every way imaginable.

The British mission where you're on a plane is intense and satisfying...'ll be running all over the plane, taking different shooting positions.

The story is pretty much the same as in the original Call of Duty. Once again, you’re a soldier among other soldiers fighting in a war bigger than yourself. Call of Duty was the first WW2 game that truly made you feel part of a bigger movement. Throughout the course of the eight hour campaign, you will play as the United States Army, the British, and the Russians. As you join up with each particular force, you will be given relatively large short term goals, like storming a heavily guarded fortress and proceeding to blow it to bits. In large battles you will be accompanied by dozens, sometimes even hundreds of soldiers. This works incredibly well at bringing the feeling of a huge battle straight to your computer monitor.

The graphics in the game are spectacular. You’ll be seeing tons of soldiers on your screen and they’re all animated fluidly and look lifelike. Explosions look even more amazing as they encompass your screen and add to the intense battles. All the weapon models look great, although several are recycled from the original game. (Well this is an expansion). The environments are also impressive and look even better when they’re being blown to bits in the impressively staged battle sequences. Your screen will almost always be filled with tons of action. Overall, graphics look even slicker than the last game.

The audio in the game is beyond words. At some of the bigger battles, you will really hear 200 guns all firing at each other, and yet you could still distinguish between the different weapons. If used in conjunction with a 5.1 surround sound system, the audio is simply beyond description. The voices aren’t too bad, but they aren’t anything too memorable. As is standard fare for these games, allies and enemies alike speak in English with obviously fake foreign accents. It would be nice to hear these guys talking in their proper languages, but reading subtitles can take away from a “cinematic” experience.

Gameplay is quick and team-based. The core gameplay has not changed much from the original. You’re still just one of many soldiers in this humongous struggle…and you still have teammates that actually help you out a lot. Unlike other games of this type, friendly and enemy AI provide a challenge and exhibit realistic tactics. This is not to say that you won’t be mowing down hundreds of enemies, but it will feel that this is due to your superior tactics and teamwork. And usually, it is. If you stray from your team and try to go lone wolf you will find yourself hitting the dirt very often.

Explosions are even more dramatic and impressive than in the original.

Getting away from a fortified German base you just blew up is exhilirating.

This brings up an issue with the game; it is very linear. Although the environments are humongous and have lots of animation, your personal movement will often be very constrained. If you go the wrong way, you will face death or a dead end. Sometimes it will be a psychical barrier, but other times you’ll just be completely decimated by enemy soldiers. This does help keep the action well paced because you won’t just be wandering around trying to figure out where to go; but it’s annoying to take a few steps the wrong way and be slammed by a barrage of enemy bullets.

Compared to last year’s game, United Offensive is much more satisfying. The missions have are quite a bit more intense now. It seems like they multiplied the number of soldiers—both enemy and friendly—several times over. The superb battles of the last game are not lost in this game despite being handed over to a new developer. In fact, Grey Matter took the original and just improved on almost every single aspect. When you start the Russian campaign, you’ll be transported to the conflict line by a truck. As you’re riding in the truck, you see planes dog fighting in the sky, tanks rolling around, friendly soldiers marching and prepping to fight. It’s amazing just how much movement is on one screen…and this carries into the battles. There will be more enemies and action than you can keep track of, most notably in the Russian Campaign.

Even the multiplayer has been beefed up in this expansion. The original Call of Duty provided fun team or deathmatch battles online with up to 32 players. It was like Medal of Honor, but better. The expansion improves on the multiplayer of the original in an extremely satisfying way that warrants a purchase just for it alone. If there’s one thing that was missing from the original’s multiplayer, it was vehicles. In a time of Battlefield Vietnam, Joint Operations, and even Unreal Tournament, vehicles are a must.

In the expansion’s multiplayer, you’ll be driving mostly jeeps and tanks. Both control well and add a new dimension to the multiplayer. A result of the vehicles being added is eleven new humongous maps. The original game’s multiplayer often was swarmed with hordes of camping snipers, but this is no more thanks to tanks and huge environments. Grey Matter was also responsible for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and this influence is easily seen in the brand-new ranking system. If you accomplish objectives and generally help out your team, you will be given special rewards, just like in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. It’s a great incentive to not go around lone wolf and just killing enemy soldiers.

It's not uncommon to see tons of other troops running alongside you to battle.

Flamethrowers are a favorite of Gray Matter and they make an apperance...

Top game moment: Running all around your bomber, trying to do repairs and shoot at enemy planes engaged in a furious assault on your life.

Overall, the multiplayer and the eight hour campaign should keep you satisfied long enough to warrant a purchase. If you were a fan of the original Call of Duty, you will love this game. If you don’t have Call of Duty, there couldn’t be a better time to get into it. Although you need the original to play this game, it is well worth it because this game is spectacular and so is the original. Any first-person shooter fan should love this game, and it’s probably the best WW2 first person shooter out now.