We have seen many World War II first person shooters hit the shelves. Most of them are entertaining and have high quality graphics and sound; but not all have good game play. Then Call of Duty arrived on the market and stole the WWII FPS crown from the rest of the bunch: boasting superb graphics, engaging sound effects and soundtrack, fluid game play and a cinematic feel throughout the game. Now we have an expansion, but Call of Duty is a hard act to follow. So, how did this expansion pack fare in comparison to the original? Read on and find out.
With no drastic changes in the visual department, Call of Duty: United Offensive (CoD:UO) has the same outstanding graphics seen in Call of Duty. Character models, the one weak link in the original’s arsenal, are a bit better this time around. The environments are superbly done and put you right in the mood. You literally feel you are at war because of the details used in the game: dead soldiers, destroyed tanks, mines and all the random atrocities of war. The beautiful landscapes sometimes can actually distract you from achieving your goals, which usually involve some sort of destruction. In this expansion pack, Call of Duty gets a little facelift not a huge makeover, but the game didn’t need too many changes anyway. It was superb and now it’s even better.
Player drooled when experiencing the sounds of war in CoD. When you heard explosions and gunfire all over; you got that desperate feeling that the world was going to collapse on you. CoD:UO has the same sound quality, but now you have more of it. The more the merrier, it’s true. In this expansion pack more enemies are heard on the screen at once and more mayhem heard from far away. You are at war. Pay close attention in the levels where vehicles are involved, especially in the air. The new aircraft sounds are refreshing since you didn’t get too much of those before.
Intense and easy to control: these are the characteristics that define the game play in CoD and in this expansion pack. As mentioned before, the intensity level is higher with the addition of more enemies onscreen; and not only ground nazi troops but tanks, aircrafts and other war vehicles. “In war no one fights alone,” and not everybody fights on feet only. Probably the most welcome addition are the vehicles you get to use (like in Battlefield 1942). From the opening level, The Battle of Bulge, you have to jump onto an American jeep and fire away Nazis on foot and tanks. It’s far more jaw dropping than the car ride in Call of Duty.
Weren’t there airplanes in WWII? Of course, aerial combat was one of the defining characteristics of that particular war. Now in CoD:UO, you can ride a B-17 Flying Fortress as a British gunner, old chap. Many levels in the game are based or inspired on movies. The bomber level makes you remember the movie Memphis Belle, although in the movie the Memphis Belle was an American aircraft, but I digress. Seeing other Fortresses in a dogfight against the Nazi fighters is beautiful. It’s ironic because war is anything but beautiful. The reddish color of the clouds, the B-17’s flying almost in unison towards a fight; gets your blood pumping and sometimes you forget you are playing a game? Snap out of it because the Germans are coming! Once again you get to play in three different Allied campaigns: American, British and Russian.
You can’t mention Call of Duty without the multiplayer portion. It’s incredibly fun to play, although at times cheap (but aren’t all multiplayer games like that?). A single player experience is usually sacrificed to get a better multiplayer game. Thankfully this is not the case for United Offensive. The multiplayer in Call of Duty got a facelift too but a deeper one. You couldn’t use vehicles in multiplayer before but now you do?.And you get to do it on bigger maps.
If you had fun on the original maps get ready for the ones you’ll find here: 11 of them, 11+ when people start making some. The addition of vehicles (jeeps and tanks) adds a new dimension, for that reason there are also new modes to play. The usual modes you find on most multiplayer games – from destroying enemy bases to dominating parts of the map – are all here in abundance. One of the problems when playing online in teams was that the game’s slogan would go to the toilet. “In war you are alone” should have been the slogan for CoD’s multiplayer. This has changed due to the new ranking system that awards players more heavily when achieving certain objectives or seizing enemy buildings – not just for killing. That encourages team work and the gives a real sense of wartime strategy. Playing online now should prove a more team-centric effort and that should be more fun at least for the more serious gamers.
United Offensive is paced so the game goes by fast; but you have to remember it’s an expansion, not a whole new game. Sometimes it’s so fast that it can get a bit draining. If it weren’t for the cinematic feel of the game, and all the side attractions of the game, it might even seem to be a repeat of every other WWII FPS out there. The new levels and the game play changes in the multiplayer experience make up for the relatively short single player campaigns. Taking all of this into the mix, it is a great addition to your videogame library – even more so if you own the original Call of Duty. Call of Duty just got bigger and badder – truly a more engaging gaming experience.
PC played on: Windows XP, Pentium?4 2.60 GHz, 510 MB RAM, 128MB DDR ATI Radeon 9800 video card with DirectX 9.0b, Creative SB Live! Series sound card, 80 Gb free disk space.