|System: X360, PS3, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Shanghai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Translating real-time strategy (RTS) games to consoles used to be a very tricky prospect; mouse and keyboard-driven controls are simply the most efficient human interface devices for the genre. However, recently, a few developers have been able to make RTS controls function admirably on the current generation of consoles.
Nevertheless, it's still a feat that only a handful of developers are able to pull off. As such, RTS games are typically best left for strictly PC gaming - until now, that is. Ubisoft Shanghai has implemented a voice recognition command system for Tom Clancy's EndWar that not only works as intuitively as a mouse and keyboard, but also heightens the experience by making players feel like a true battlefield commander.
EndWar takes place in the near future, 12 years to be exact. Energy independence has become more than just a hot-button issue and Election Day talking point; it is a crucial concern for any nations prosperity and survival. In 2020, the world is lead by three superpowers: the United States, the European Federation, and Russia. Ever since the 2016 tragedy in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia suffers a horrible nuclear attack that killed six million people and utterly crippled the worlds most important oil refineries), the U.S. and the European Federation have instated a ban on all nuclear weapons, launching a network of Reagan-esque Star Wars satellites to combat the future launch of such weapons. However, all is not so pacific. As the world rejoices in the glow of an age without nukes, Russia begins a massive military ramp up after securing their place as the worlds number one producer of fossil fuels. In response, the U.S. has constructed the Freedom 4 fleet (a military space station to secure its own defense) - a move that threatens to undermine the Russian military advantage and reignite a new Cold War arms race. Add to this pressure cooker some underhanded scheming and a terrorist threat from the shadowy group known as the Forgotten Army and youve got a recipe for WWIII. Thankfully, this is all just a figment of Tom Clancys imagination (though hes often eerily prescient in his stories), and players get to take advantage of the deadly scenario to play war games.
EndWar is an RTS that has players take the side of one of the three factions in WWIII. You will control faction-specific units in order to secure objectives in any one of the multitude of interesting maps in North America, Europe, and Russia. Units include Riflemen, Combat Engineers, Combat Transports, Tanks, Gunships, Artillery, and Command Vehicles. Each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses and should be deployed accordingly in order to combat opposing units efficiently and secure specific objectives in a timely manner. For instance, in classic RTS fashion, Tanks beat Combat Transports, which best Gunships, which in turn trump Tanks. Keeping the various unit triangles (Combat Chains) in mind proves decisive during combat.
Every faction's units also have unique characteristics that will influence players' faction selection: the U.S. Joint Strike Force uses precision attacks, stealth, and robotics to win the day; the European Federation Enforcers Corps are urban specialists, use electronic warfare, and have vehicles with outstanding mobility; the Russian Spetsnaz Guard Brigade uses heavy firepower and the strongest, gun-laden, armored vehicles to enforce their will upon the battlefield. Regardless of faction, units that survive battles acquire experience, rise in rank from Recruit to Legendary, and are upgraded in any of four areas: Attack, Defense, Mobility, and Ability. This upgrading of units over time will have players doing their best to protect and take advantage of their forces without simply calling in reinforcements willy-nilly to secure objectives.
Objectives (Mission Types) include controlling a map's data uplink sites (Conquest), holding out against invading forces on defense or besieging a strategic zone while attacking (Siege), taking out/guarding key energy installations or crippling/protecting important military sites (Raid), or simply obliterating all enemy units from the battlefield (Assault).
Players can battle it out against heady A.I. in the single-player campaign or head online and test their luck against human counterparts. The game modes include Solo Campaign, Skirmish, and Theatre of War. The Solo Campaign is a great way to get your feet wet against solid (even grueling) A.I. and familiarize yourself with the various Mission Types. Also, the engaging storyline of EndWar is revealed through this mode. While enjoyable in its own right, the Solo Campaign is really just a way of sharpening your skill for online play; I doubt players will get addicted to the single-player experience after going through it once. Skirmish and Theatre of War are the modes where the game really shines.