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The original Call of Duty is a classic and is the foundation for one of the most popular video game franchises in history. If you enjoy World War II shooters, Call of Duty is certainly one you should play if you haven’t already. If you’re looking to play it again, you might want to take a look at the game’s modding scene. For this review, I’ll be taking a look at one mod in particular – United Fronts. It’s a massive single player modification that combines the base game with the United Offensive expansion and features new missions and weapons, among some other things.
United Fronts does come with an optional Realism modification which is designed to make the gameplay more realistic and immersive. Most HUD elements have been removed and a lot of changes were made to weapon stats and behavior. As soon as you launch the mod, you’ll notice the new menu. It comes with a mission select sub-menu so you can play through any mission at any time. Several of the new campaigns come with new briefings complete with new voice work but information conveyed by NPCs during gameplay is all text.
All of the original missions from the base game and United Offensive are intact and playable. The missions have been rearranged with the new ones integrated throughout making for a lengthy single player experience. You can tell a lot of attention and care was put into United Fronts and fans of the original game should undoubtedly enjoy it. If you love the linear explosive action-packed experience that is Call of Duty, this is just more of the same.
You will receive random weapons each time you start a mission and the new ones perfectly fit in with the existing arsenal. Enemies will use the new weapons but no major changes have been made to their behavior as far as I can tell. Both the friendly and enemy AI will do the same stupid shit from time to time and friendlies still get in your way frequently.
The new missions will have you participating in new battles across Belgium, France, Italy, and Africa. You’ll sabotage oil fields, assault a castle, clear an opera house, and even participate in the Omaha Beach landings. Sometimes the pacing isn’t as consistent as that of the vanilla game, mainly because it’s not always clear what you need to do and that’s usually because the objective didn’t activate as a result of a bug or something else. And because NPC’s won’t verbally guide you during new missions, you have to rely on your objective marker.
Objectives not activating or not being clear is probably my biggest gripe with the mod. Luckily it didn’t happen often. But when it does, you’ll have to either try and push forward to see if you can get things moving or load your last save. I would recommend quicksaving often. In the new missions, friendly NPCs don’t typically move to objectives without you so you can’t follow them and have to figure things out on your own if you get stuck. During one mission, I had to escape in a vehicle but a specific NPC that was supposed to get in with me was either stuck or dead forcing me to load a previous save and try again. During another mission, I had to hold a line and after about ten minutes of shooting Germans as they repeatedly came pouring into the area in the same patterns, I got a hunch something was wrong. I decided to let them overrun the area and that’s when the next objective activated.
With the existing missions rearranged and new missions thrown in, the difficulty is all over the place. Nothing ever feels impossible but you can get through a tough new mission and then jump into an already existing one and may notice a significant decrease in challenge. This will also depend on which difficulty you select. In typical Call of Duty fashion, you’ll be clearing out bunkers and buildings, destroying things, and defending areas. Some of the new missions can get really intense and the mod keeps in line with the vanilla game’s linear nature so the action is always contained.
As good as the new missions are, some can be tedious and it’s usually when you have to assault areas or storm buildings. In many of these missions, Germans are usually everywhere and don’t stop spawning until you push forward. There’s often multiple machine gunners, health kits are sparse, and if you’re not behind cover, you’re just a bullet magnet. You’ll need to keep your head down often. I appreciate the increase in challenge but when there’s little to no cover in the area and/or you can’t even pop your head out without being pummeled with gunfire, it just turns into tedious cases of quicksaving and quickloading as you slowly try to move forward and not die and hope there’s health kits up ahead. And because of the linear nature of the missions, it’s not like you can experiment and try different routes or approaches.
Many of the new missions are set in Europe which makes the African missions stand out and they are well crafted. Most of the new locations use the game’s already existing assets to great effect. Some areas within certain missions could use a little more detail but these are few and far between. Most of them flow together nicely making for realistic looking environments. The new locations are well designed and maintain the war-torn feel the vanilla game exhibited. If it wasn’t for the lack of new voice work, most of them would feel like a natural part of the game.
You shouldn’t go into United Fronts expecting a major visual overhaul. It features some new models, HUD icons, and some new sounds. Visually, it still looks like typical Call of Duty but weapons are a bit more detailed and sound a lot better. As mentioned earlier, I think some areas could use a little more detail if only to make them look and feel a bit more natural but for the most part, the new environments are consistent with what you see in the vanilla game. On the technical side, I encountered no major issues with the performance.
Call of Duty: United Fronts is an excellent mod. No doubt about it. And it was clearly made by fans for fans. It not only combines the base game with the expansion but also includes a ton of new missions based on actual historical events that keep in line with the vanilla style and gameplay making for a beefy and even more action-packed World War II single player experience. It seriously is more of the same so if you’re not a fan of the vanilla game, this is not the mod for you. It remains a linear experience and the new missions offer new challenges even though some of the new battles can be a test in patience. Regardless, it’s all put together so well and never feels shoddy and the tone and atmosphere of the vanilla game is maintained throughout the new missions. I was only taken out of the experience when an objective didn’t activate which didn’t happen often. Overall, United Fronts is solid work.
I would absolutely recommend Call of Duty: United Fronts to fans of the vanilla game. It’s one of those “must play” mods. It’s got more missions, more action, some audiovisual enhancements, and will appeal to those that really enjoy the Call of Duty single player experience. It’s not hard to see the care that went into this and the result is incredible. Definitely check it out.