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Call of Duty: United Offensive Review

Call of Duty: United Offensive box art
Developers:Gray Matter
Genre:First person shooter
Platform: PC
Reviewer:Craig Dudley (Mani)
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Call of Duty currently holds the mantle of best World War II game, in my opinion at least, so an expansion pack is definitely welcome. Indeed I've been looking forward to it for a while.

United Offensive has a lot to live upto, it's Daddy was 2003's game of the year of course.

The mission pack follows a similar pattern to the original game, with missions from each of the 3 main allied nations, The United States, Great Britain and Russia, in that order, this time it doesn't jump around between the 3 though.

Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
Yellow snow?
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
Air support
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
I'm scared of the dark
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
Riley - I don't want you
interferin' with them cows

The first few missions of the game, you play as an American Paratrooper, beginning with holding the line at Bastogne, during the famed Battle of The Bulge, those who have seen Band of Brothers will find a lot of these first few missions familiar, this certainly doesn't spoil it however, the sheer scale of some of the battles just blows you away.

The British missions are a little bit different, firstly you a gunner in B17, on a bombing mission over Holland, this seems like an odd choice for a mission in a game which usually goes for such well known and famous events. The RAF only had 20 B17's as far as I can tell, most of which ended up in RAF Coastal Command hunting submarines in the Atlantic. Curiously, in this mission they are painted in the colours of RAF Coastal Command, seemingly before they have even been transferred. Perhaps it doesn't really matter than much, it just seems so odd, a Lancaster bomber would have made so much more sense to me.

After your plane is shot down, you are rescued by a British agent and the Dutch underground and are taken on a mission to destroy a train, again, seemed a little bit of an odd choice, but it's fun none the less.

Finally for the British section you join the SAS, as a 'commando' and assault a gun battery near Sicily.

Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
Take that Jerry!
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
I'm calling the RSPCA!
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
Tank Battle

From a historical point of view, I will question whether soldiers in the SAS have ever been called commandos, a term I believe was used to describe highly trained units of Royal Marines. Still, this is a minor, somewhat nerd like point to bring up when talking about a computer game so I'll shut up.

The final section of missions puts you on the eastern front during what many would see as the turning point of the Second World War, the enormous tank battle of Kursk and the subsequent battles for control of Kharkov. This in undoubtedly the best section of the game in my opinion, I won't give out too many spoilers though, you really should play it for yourself.

Graphically, United Offensive is every bit as good as Call of Duty as you would expect, with the addition of some quite excellent extra effects, most notably the superb smoke and dust clouds from big explosions, of which there are plenty during the quite massive battles you will fight. Weather effects have also been added. There really isn't much more to add, you probably all know how good Call of Duty looked and don't need me to examine it at length. Suffice to say, I'm continually surprised with how well the Quake3 engine is holding up after all this time

Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
It's grim up north
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
The wheels on the bus go...oh.
Not anymore they don't.
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
Who left the cooker on?
Call of Duty: United Offensive screenshot
"Guard these empty barrels, men!"

As with Call of Duty, sound is excellent, explosions and bullet fire are clear and crisp and positional audio seem to work well. I do still wonder why grenades sound like they hitting concrete when they hit soft snow however. Again, that's just being picky. As usual I will not be saying much about sound, there's no need in this case. It's fine.

From a single player point of view, gameplay is much akin to Call of Duty and plays superbly well, just like Call of Duty you may feel you must follow a specific scripted path at times, for the most part it's true.

Stray from where you should be at a given time and a specific group of enemy soldiers might continue to spawn all day which can get a bit tedious, shoot the same German solider as he jumps over the same fence for 10 minutes and you will be bored, trust me. Fortunatley, as this doesn't happen that often and the rest of the game is such fun, it can be forgiven.

There are also times when United Offensive can be a touch frustrating, you'll learn to love quicksave and quickload before long.

I occasionally felt like I was on a roller coaster, shooting things as I was moving past. But when all is said and done, who cares, it's one hell of a ride!

Now, in this day and age, the most important part of a game is mutiplayer, Call of Duty already has a huge following, perhaps second only to Counter-Strike. Since it's only been a few days since release, I haven't had much chance to play United Offensive online so I can't comment in any great depth. I think this area deserves more study and should perhaps be reserved for a different article after at last a weeks play time. Still, the addition of several new gameplay modes, new weapons and vehicles along with 11 new maps will deffinitley keep some people interested longer. However, I suspect that most clan matches will avoid United Offensive in its base form.

Summing up, United Offensive was a very enjoyable ride that left me wanting more, perhaps the multiplayer content will provide that.

Good stuff

  • A whole lot of fun
  • Superb smoke effects
  • Lots of new and fun multiplayer content
  • Did I say it was great fun?

Not so good stuff

  • Very scripted
  • A little short
  • British missions are a bit odd
  • New multiplayer content might not be so good for competitions

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