What happened to my Call of Duty?
When I last left Call of Duty multiplayer – with the help of a rehab program, I might add – it was a spectacular infantry combat game. Whether your poison was Headquarters, Search & Destroy or good old team deathmatch, the weapon was a rifle, SMG or assault rifle.
In United Offensive, all of a sudden the mighty Garand rifle isn’t so imposing when it’s facing down a Pz IV H tank. Yes, the game’s key addition is vehicle combat. 95% of the time, this means tanks. Yes, there are jeeps in the game as well but tanks are where it’s all at. United Offensive has enough tanks on the average map to make sure that most people will be spending a good bunch of their time in them. They can’t be repaired, like in Battlefield 1942, but they’re so numerous it doesn’t matter.
Anti-tank weapons are littered around maps as well. In addition to panzerfausts, there are now panzerschrecks and bazookas. These hit with the same force as a main gun on the tanks, so it’ll take a lot of shots to the front, two to the side or one to the rear to kill one of them.
Gray Matter modeled a total of five tanks. There are three proper tanks – the T-34/85, Panzer IV H and Sherman 75, and two tank destroyers – the German Elefant and Soviet SU-152. The tank destroyers are much tougher and hit a lot harder to boot, but they lack turrets and, being rather ungainly beasts, can be out-maneuvered up close. Infantry are devastating to these.
The maps have grown accordingly to accommodate these armored monstrosities, and new game modes put in to support them. There’s the classic Capture the Flag mode, a Domination mode that ends when one side controls all the flags, and a Base Assault where each side is trying to destroy the other’s bases. These bases, incidentally, are also spawn points.
All in all, United Offensive is a lot more… chaotic. It’s much easier to die. If you’re infantry, the big, bad tanks are always looking for an easy kill on a “squishy” and if you are one of those tanks, it’s only a matter of time before an infantryman delivers his hot panzerfaust up your rear. The abundance of other tanks also means it’s very easy to get outnumbered. Tanks, being big targets, are hard to miss so fights are usually won by the tank that fires first.
Success really requires a lot more teamwork. No matter how skilled you are, it’s too difficult to succeed by yourself in United Offensive. In Call of Duty, even now I find it easy to rack up a good kill ratio thanks to superior aim and simply out-thinking my enemies. UO takes away from that to some extent, since both tanks and infantry have a tough time advancing.
On the other hand, players are rewarded for their skill and teamwork – by achieving objectives – with ranks. Initially, the player starts with very little ammo, but as he gains rank, he gets more ammunition, more grenades (including smoke grenades) and even the ability to call artillery, which works much like in Enemy Territory. On at least one of United Offensive’s 11 new maps, artillery’s a real pain, but otherwise it’s just a good way to punish the careless and discourage movement through a certain area. Let me say from experience that it works great
at stopping flag capper pursuit.
CoD: UO adds a truckload of variety to the multiplayer. So much so, in fact, that we’re not sure if this is a drawback. Being an actual add-on pack, rather than a stand-alone expansion, United Offensive is likely to split the burgeoning CoD multiplayer community into those who prefer the old-school infantry style of play and those who like tanks.