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Review: Call of Duty: WWII - United Front: DLC Pack 3 (PlayStation 4)By FiDRoC At 04.08.2018 00:55

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First out of the United Front kitbag of content is Operation Supercharge, the newest addition to the objective-based War mode, which grabs its name from one of the final stages of the second battle of El Alamein. In this episode, the German and Italian forces have been forced to retreat and are currently holed up in a small settlement in Southern Tunisia, providing the perfect opportunity to mix it up with the colour palette and move away from the muddy browns to the slightly more vibrant desert yellows. It's a three-stage operation that kicks off with the Allied forces airdropping into play, then capturing three dropped crates of ordnance (one at a time) for use in the next stage of the mission. Failure to capture a crate within a very specific time frame results in it being destroyed and getting replaced by another landing in a different location. Time is definitely of the essence here. A tight defensive Axis team working well together can kill the game in the first round and a lot of matches do seem to end very quickly with a mutual deadlock.

Should the Allies manage to capture all the ordnance crates then the next stage sees them tasked with lighting the fuses on each set of explosives strapped to the four transport bridge pillars nearby. Of course, the confounded killjoy Axis aren't going to make this easy and, besides being able to extinguish the fuses on any live explosives, they can also build walls to block routes and slow down the advancing forces. There is a wealth of tactics to deploy here as the attacking team, focusing on one pillar at a time, all pillars at once in an attempt to overwhelm the defenders, or feigning concentrating all effort on one pillar to draw the enemy there, while one or two squad members stealthily try to set off the explosives on the opposite end of the bridge. Well, okay… that's three tactics, not exactly a wealth, but should that bridge come a tumbling down, then the final stage sees the Allies forced to raise all of the flags on the heavily fortified Mareth Line, one at a time to signal that the line has been broken. The entire match is incredibly fast-paced thanks in no small part to the short distance from the objectives both teams spawn in at and the option to play under 'Ground War' conditions only serves to amplify the mayhem. Should 'Operation Supercharge' prove too chaotic, then there are always the new multiplayer arenas to dip into.

While calling a multiplayer map Market Garden might suggest a throwdown between a bunch of overzealous, green fingered maniacs fighting over the last two remaining bags of half price compost at a garden centre, it actually takes its name from a failed Allied military operation that occurred in September 1944. Taking place in both the Netherlands and Germany, it was an ambitious plan that centred around the capture of nine bridges over the length of the river Rhine utilising air (codenamed Market) and land forces (Garden) with a tactical view of forcing the Wermacht out of Holland, then pushing through to Germany to try and bring an early end to the conflict. Does this map, then, feature a tense riverside engagement with two teams vying for control of a key overpass? Well, not really, although more observant troops might spot a number of windmills dotted about the horizon, alongside a partially blown up bridge to give it some contextual flair. The COD version of Market Garden is a small, claustrophobic map that mainly takes place in a sizeable Allied mansion base and its immediate grounds.

As might be expected, the relatively small size of the central structure, combined with its numerous tight corridors and plentiful points of entry, promote a fast-paced, circular flow of play that can see death come from any angle. The larger rooms in the mansion do have a number of obstacles that can provide cover when playing objective-based games, so getting ambushed is a regular occurrence. Snipers don't really get much opportunity to ply their trade in this map as there aren't really any lengthy lines of sight to be found anywhere, yet for those still intent in being an irritating pain in the backside, there is always the option of switching to shotgun (thus becoming a "F****g shotgun noob" as one particularly irate combatant kept screaming during a Market Garden match). Ah the COD community... don't ever change guys.

Next up is Stalingrad, the scene of one of the biggest battles in the Second World War, where Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union in an attempt to seize control of the Russian city. Accounting for an estimated 1.8 to 2 million deaths of both soldiers and civilians, it was certainly one of the bloodiest engagements in the German offensive that featured heavy bouts of close quarter combat, alongside intensive bombing by the Luftwaffe. This is a fairly generic COD map that doesn't really seem to do anything particularly exciting or revolutionary, other than catering well to fans of differing play styles. It's a classic three-lane fare, with an elevated platform at either extremity, providing lengthy sight lines across the snowy Stalingrad rubble. For the most part, those that snipe seem quite content to trade deaths with one another, as failure to keep an eye on the opposite platform guarantees a bullet in the head. It makes sense to just leave them to it. Run 'n' gunners can still move around relatively safely in the central region of the map as there is a wealth of cover, ranging from crumbling walls, to bombed out buildings, and abandoned rolling stock. At first glance, it might appear that Stalingrad is all about those long distance pop shots, but no marksman should feel safe when there are covert sewer tunnels that just so happen to emerge right behind that lofty sniper's perch. Vengeance can be exacted pretty quickly on the less attentive scope jockeys, and rightly so.

Monte Cassino is the final map of the trio and, in this humble reviewer's opinion, the pick of the bunch. Set in small Italian mountaintop monastery village, seemingly untouched by conflict, until the very moment it crops up in the map rotation with some glorious vistas that do seem to make repeatedly getting shot in the back a far more palatable experience. The layout is a mixture of cramped courtyards, narrow passageways, dusty looking rooms, and plenty of little nooks that are perfect for those into the whole ambush thing. The cliff-side path that stretches around one side of the map is perfect for deploying flanking manoeuvres but, weirdly, it either gets very congested or ignored entirely. There is a central elevated area on the rooftops that not only provides a strong vantage point overlooking one of the main objectives, but also provides a handy shortcut to other parts of the arena. While this rooftop is a great area to have under control, it's pretty hard to keep hold of, so it does seem to be the focus of many a power struggle during the course of a match. There are fewer things more satisfying than wiping out an entire squad camped up there with a well aimed hand grenade. It's the token pretty map of the bunch; a real delight.

Last, but not least, is the Nazi Zombie mode, which sees Sledgehammer leading wannabe corpse grinders down The Tortured Path towards an undead experience that differs slightly from the norm. While these lifeless chunks of content usually tend to comprise of one huge play area that's portioned off with numerous locked barriers or doors requiring payment to pass, this time around there are three slightly smaller levels that have no such restrictions. Moving on, the next location requires surviving ten increasingly stressful rounds of zombie slaying Hell, as well as the subsequent boss battle. While this sounds fairly easy, it's actually the complete opposite as the slightly smaller play space, combined with the relentless stream of enemies, makes for a tough, fast-paced challenge that is heavily reliant on good teamwork. The first chapter, 'Into the Storm,' takes place in a small overrun town overlooked by a windmill where the team is forced to requisition a caravan to reach the port of Malaga. Should the gang survive this ordeal, then 'Across the Depths' sees them on board a ship, ploughing through U-boat ridden waters with a view to reaching the Antarctic. A fun cruise this ain't! Finally, 'Beneath the Ice' brings the whole messy affair to a close in a forgotten snow-laden location in Neuschwabenland that hosts a dark, ancient terror like so many other Nazi Zombie episodes before. There's a guff-heavy story arc relating to transporting pieces of Barbarossa's sword out of enemy territory but in layman's terms that just translates to 'kill all the zombies, yeah?'

Admittedly, on a personal note, as someone who doesn't enjoy COD Zombies at all, has zero interest in playing it, but being ever the consummate professional jumped into the fray for review purposes anyway, it was not all too surprising that making it out of the first chapter was a no-go in the end... but one man's 'meh' shouldn't stop fans of the mode enjoying what it has to offer, right? It's the usual festering festival of obscure Easter eggs and gore heavy action that the series is known for, with the added bonus of bringing a fresh bunch of unlockable new protagonists to the party.

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Final Score
Sledgehammer has done a pretty good job of bolstering up a title that launched with considerably less content than its predecessors, and the recent introduction of yet another new class, the shield-carrying 'Cavalry,' is testament to this. Hop onto any online match now and it will look like half the team is carrying car doors around with them for protection. Is this exercise in shark jumping historically accurate? Nope... but then who plays Call of Duty expecting an authentic experience, eh? As for [i]Call of Duty: WWII - United Front: DLC Pack 3[/i], it's hardly going to set the gaming world alight, but it does exactly what it sets out to do, with both 'Operation Supercharge' and 'Monte Cassino' being particularly strong highlights.

6

/10

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