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Call of Duty: United Offensive is an expansion pack made for the first Call of Duty game. It added some new features and missions to the game and is actually almost worthy of being a stand-alone game.
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United Offensive has all the standard features of Call of Duty, but it threw in a few neat tricks. Flamethrowers were added to the game and light mounted machine guns were made available for the player to carry and reposition. You could also “cook” your grenade to have it explode in mid-air, preferably over an enemy. A number of these features have been incorporated into the sequels.
If you aren't familiar with the normal Call of Duty gameplay, then understand that it's basically a war simulator. I use the strange term because it isn't just a first-person shooter. You usually move along the battlefield alongside a number of fellow soldiers. It builds itself on the idea of being a small part of a large mission, and that's pretty cool.
The missions themselves are stretched across three main characters. You will spend time with airborne units during the Battle of the Bulge. There is even a mission to capture the town of Foy, so you can relive that one episode of Band of Brothers. Another mission has you playing a downed British airman who joins a special forces group on a mission to blow up coastal guns. There is also a campaign detailing a Russian soldier fighting in the Battle of Kursk during the intense trench warfare.
The Russian and American missions play out well with a mixture of tense fighting and tactical gameplay. As usual, the American experience is a balanced set, whereas the Russian campaign focuses on large scale tank battles with a number of drafted soldiers barely holding their ground. The weak link is still the British campaign though. It ends up playing out as a mediocre version of the early Medal of Honor games, where you just clear out bunkers by yourself. Having so much solo gameplay just doesn't make sense in a game that used the motto “no man fights alone.”
The AI isn't bad, but the game never really challenges itself. Most of the fights are linear affairs without much room for differences in the battle. The AI is able to handle itself fairly well, but it makes the fighting a bit scripted and boring on replay.
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There isn't much to say about the graphics. They are the standard graphics for a first-person shooter a few years ago. They aren't bad by today's standard but I doubt you'll be wowed by them. I will say that the fire from the flamethrower was well done, especially for the time.
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I'll note that it's multiplayer was quite good when it was first released. It paved the way for most of the cool features present in the multiplayer of Call of Duty 4. The problem is that after 4 years, you'll be hard pressed to find a game.
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It's not too tough on your system. It just needs 128 MB of RAM and a 32 MB graphics card. My old computer which had 1 GB of RAM and a Nvidia MX 420 graphics card had no problem running it 4 years ago and I didn't have problems on my new machine either.
An important note is that you need to have the original Call of Duty to play it. It's just an expansion pack.
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I'm a little torn on whether you should buy it. The game was actually quite good, especially since it wasn't made by Infinity Ward (the developers of the original, Call of Duty 2, and Call of Duty 4). The problem is that there isn't much of a reason to really buy it. You aren't going to get anything that's too unique. Call of Duty 2 isn't much more taxing on your system and it is a bigger and better game that incorporates the good and fixes most of the bad. If you have a good computer, then Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat is a good game too. If you are a big fan and want some new missions, then it's probably worth your money. I'd give it a pass otherwise.
While Call of Duty may have branched out into Vietnam and modern battlegrounds, it originated as a World War II shooter at a time when WW2 shooters were just beginning to grow stale. Fortunately, Activision produced what remains the gold standard in WW2 shooters.