Call of Duty: United Offensive Review

Just one of the large battles you'll be a part of.

Call of Duty was released in 2003 and immediately developed a very loyal following. Not surprising for a game that featured excellent level design, compelling gameplay, and top-notch production values Ö and that was an absolute blast to play. Now Call of Duty has an expansion pack in United Offensive that attempts to extend the magic of the original with a whole new campaign of missions and some multiplayer enhancements. Does it succeed? Mostly, but there seems to be a little something missingÖ

Like the original game, United Offensiveís missions are divided into American, British, and Russian min-campaigns. There are 13 new missions in all, and they will take you to the Battle of the Bulge, the skies over Germany, and the Battle of Kursk, respectively. The American missions place you in the snows of the Ardennes during the height of the German counterattack. Youíll face waves of German infantry supported by armor and you will also need to assault villages to take out German gun emplacements heavily defended by infantry, machine guns, armor, and infantry. The first mission is very reminiscent of the missions in Call of Duty as it has you server as the gunner on a jeep making a frantic race through the woods as the initial elements of the German assault come crashing into the American lines. After that, though, youíll begin to feel that the character of the game has been changed in United Offensive. The primary difference is that the gameís difficulty has been ratcheted a lot higher. There are a lot more enemies in United Offensive than you had to face in Call of Duty and if you donít try to continually move to your next objective theyíll keep coming and coming. This forces you to be very aggressive while advancing and as a result you will end up dead a lot in the process. There are also plenty of sequences that are designed to be just plain deadly and it will take you several attempts just to get past them. For example, one has you running across a field while taking artillery and machine gun fire. Press the run key and pray. Another one requires you to cross a bridge defended by machine gun nests, an anti-tank gun, and an endless supply of Germans. It may take you an entire evening to get past this one. Finally United Offensive is not above pulling dirty tricks on the player. Your path through the missions is carefully controlled, so the game knows where you have to go. It takes advantage of this to pull tricks like placing a machine gunner in a window of a building behind you as your path leads you in the opposite direction. Sure you have to be ready for anything in war, but there are instances in United Offensive where the situation feels a bit contrived and takes away from the gameís immersive experience; Call of Duty did not rely on set-ups like this. Iím not saying that United Offensive is a bad game because of differences between the missions in it and those in the original Call of Duty. United Offensive generates a lot of excitement and the mayhem in the large battles that you find yourself in is amazing. Itís just that United Offensive has added a degree of frustration to the game that wasnít a part of the original and the overall game experience canít help but to suffer a little bit because of this. Itís one thing to be killed due to a mistake or bad decision on your part and another to die because the game overwhelmed you.