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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action    Expansion For: Call of Duty
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 867 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 1400 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Call of Duty: United Offensive
December 13, 2004 | Alex Nonnemacher

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Expansion packs can be mixed bags. They can be a means to milk a franchise, or they can offer more of what you loved about a game without waiting for a wholesale revision (or the funds to upgrade your kit). Often enough, this distinction is a matter of opinion. Considering the great reviews Call of Duty received, Gray Matter Studios had a tough act to follow. Most gamers who enjoyed Call of Duty enough to plunk down the cash for the Call of Duty: United Offensive Expansion Pack will spend many an hour enjoying what this game continues to offer: fast action, overwhelming confusion, sticky challenges, and varied battlescapes. Although a tougher rib than the cage from which it was plucked, United Offensive offers up at least as much action as Call of Duty, with additional multiplayer modes and features, new weapons, and new modes of vehicle combat.

In developing Call of Duty: United Offensive, developer Gray Matter Studios made one assumption that is clear from level one: players of United Offensive want punishment. The developers reasoned that if you liked Call of Duty enough to buy the expansion pack, then you must want more: more explosions, more Axis enemies, more tanks encroaching on your position, and more scrambling to get precious ammo. If Call of Duty was boot camp, then United Offensive is Navy Seal training.

Call of Duty: United Offensive presents itself as immediately more difficult than the game on which itís based. This isnít necessarily a bad thing: after all, someone who buys an expansion pack could be expected to be looking for more of a challenge. But I found myself dying a lot, and from the first mission. United Offensive isnít simply more of the same, and what makes it different is what makes it challenging.

As in Call of Duty, you begin the game playing for the home team, the US Army, as the intrepid Corporal Scott Riley. As the game progresses, you also assume the guise of James Doyle, in the services of the British Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.), and the Russian Armyís reluctant conscript Yuri Petrenko. Although this is an FPS, youíre mostly a grunt; you arenít here to save your otherwise well meaning but hapless teammates.

This aspect of the game makes for good realism. While in many cases, you are required to, say, steal some plans or set charges, you arenít the focus of the game so much as a participant in massive battles. Your fellow soldiers are permanent accompaniment, and they will see you through the game. Fortunately, theyíll ignore the errant shot to the temple now and then. Youíll need them for some of the simpler stuff, like opening doors, which your character, capable as he is, canít handle for himself.

Likewise, Corporal Riley still does some of the same old dumb things. For example, when trapped in a house upon which tank after tank descend, he figures itíll be easier to retrieve one respawning panzer after another, risking his life by dashing out onto the porch each time, rather than taking a few rockets along with him.

The developers clearly felt that vehicle travel must have been one of Call of Dutyís best, if least used, features. With that in mind, they created a game that gives you more, well, charioteeringÖ From the get-go, youíre climbing into a jeep in no time in a mad rush to get back to base, all the while blasting away at Jerry. Your driving adventures arenít only hanging on in the back of a lorry, either. Can you say sidecar? Back-street bike chases give way to PT boat chases (thatís right, boat chases) for some of the best WWII shooter action yet. And yet, thereís moreÖ


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