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Call of Duty | United Offensive | review | game | Lollipop

Call of Duty: United Offensive

(Activision for the PC)
by Eric Johnson

Featuring some of the most bone-jarring and densely-populated battles depicted in the genre, Call of Duty: United Offensive, is a well-crafted but unfortunately brief expansion pack for last fall's excellent WWII-themed first-person shooter. Requiring an installed copy of the original, United Offensive adds new multiplayer modes and a fresh single-player campaign of considerably greater intensity than the already P.T.S.D.-inducing original. For existing fans, the promise of again engaging in some of modern history's largest battles staring down the sights of a Mosin-Nagant should prove tempting, even if the game includes only a sparce ten hours of intense, cinematic, and highly-scripted action. Don't let brevity deter you, this is a true epic that superficially resembles Medal of Honor, but is far more ferocious.

Discarding the "one man against the world" genre standard, Call of Duty makes you feel like a very small cog in a very large war machine by placing you in the shoes of low-ranking grunts from each of the major Allied armies. Each campaign is dramatically different, using very different tactics and very different weapons to take on the same enemy. Fighting is a scrambling, chaotic, and exhausting affair, moving from cover to cover and taking on objectives with your AI allies. While not technically responsible for them, it does behoove you to keep members of your squad upright, as they help engage the multitude of Hun you will encounter. As an American, you fight the Battle of the Bulge, an excellent and familiar experience because it mirrors events in Band of Brothers. British commando raids comprise the weakest campaign, disjointed and packed with too many vehicle sequences. As a Soviet soldier, you witness the gargantuan Battle of Kursk, a unique experience dwarfing the scale and quality of the others. The Soviet engagements are some of the largest I've ever seen in a FPS, with entire companies of men in the environment at the same time. Only strategy games are more densely populated. Multiplayer additions limit the volume of ammo you spawn with, introduces a clumsy ranking system, larger maps, and objective-driven game modes highly dependent on vehicle use, none of which augments an already good mode.

This is a really rich experience, and like the very best war movies, it's exhausting and frightening and as exhilarating as touching your tongue to a live wire.

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