Call of Duty: United Offensive E3 2004 Hands-On Impressions

We get a hands-on look at Gray Matter's upcoming Call of Duty expansion pack.

With two lengthy missions playable at demo stations on the E3 show floor, Activision is showing a sizable sample of Call of Duty: United Offensive. The upcoming expansion for Infinity Ward's WWII shooter will have more than 10 single-player missions (the exact number is still to be determined) and nine multiplayer maps, some of which come equipped with tanks and other vehicles to offer a significantly different experience

The British mission on display puts you in a B-17 bomber on a daytime bombing run over the continent early in the war. Without the cover of darkness, the formation of bombers is soon pounded by AA flak and swarmed by German Messersshmits. The pilot gives helpful orders over the radio, and soon you're manning the top gun, firing arcs of tracer-laden rounds at oncoming planes. But the battle evolves dynamically, depending on how many planes you down (with the help of other gunners, in your B-17 and others in the formation), and as the bomber gets shot up and comrades fall, you can jump from station to station in a desperate attempt to keep the plane afloat and reach the objective. Before all is done, there are a few events that will require your quick intervention and repairs.

On the whole, the British, Russian, and US campaigns will be integrated, with each one focused on a single weeks-long battle. While the British bombing run doesn't quite fit this general rule, the rest of the British campaign will take you to the invasion of Sicily. The US campaign drops you right into the critical Battle of the Bulge, while the Russian missions throw you into the Battle of Kursk, one of the largest battles in history and the largest tank battle until the Gulf War. The campaigns are designed to give more context to the experience of an individual soldier. Rather than dump you right into battle from the first mission, you'll arrive behind the Kursk lines by train and hear about the battle as you approach the active combat.

As if the bursts of flak and other airborne feats of physics weren't enough example, the Kursk demo offered a good look at the expansion's new particle effects for explosions, rain, and more. One new weapon, the flamethrower, also puts this to spectacular use. Some other additions came in handy as the action heated up, such the new sprint key and the ability to cook a grenade--that is, pulling the pin and delaying the toss to ensure it explodes before it can be thrown back.

The multiplayer features weren't on display but will likely be just as key. Three new gameplay modes are coming, and the maps are generally larger to accommodate drivable tanks and jeeps. Players on foot won't be defenseless, since they can pick up satchel charges, bazookas, and panzerfausts from crates scattered around the maps. But even more devastating are the Flak 88 antitank cannons.

United Offensive is in development by Gray Matter, the studio behind Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and it's slated for release late this year.

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jakeboudville
jakeboudville

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