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Anthony Capone
01 Jan, 2009

Tom Clancy's EndWar Review

360 Review | This is one war you'll want to be part of.
Strategy games have always had a difficult time adapting to the console market. Electronic Arts has perhaps been the biggest advocate, experiencing mixed success with games like Command & Conquer and The Battle for Middle Earth on Xbox 360. Microsoft is even wading into the genre with Halo Wars in 2009. The biggest issue with such games has always been the lack of a keyboard and mouse, which are generally viewed as essential tools in the fast-paced RTS market. Ubisoft has done away with the whole control issue, however, by incorporating a voice command system into their new real-time strategy Tom Clancy title, EndWar on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Surprisingly, the results are staggering. The game may be light on story and the single-player front, but excellent controls and a simple yet rewarding battle system makes EndWar the best strategy title to grace consoles to date.

The Tom Clancy brand has provided several excellent games over the last ten years; initially, the tactical FPS Rainbow Six, followed by Ghost Recon and then the stealth-tastic Splinter Cell. With Ubisoft's acquisition of the Clancy name, new games have appeared under the franchise – HAWX, a military flight simulator, and now EndWar. Tom Clancy's EndWar is set in the distant future of the Tom Clancy universe. The basic premise of the game is that three superpowers – United States, Russia and the European Federation – call earth home, and each wants the largest slice of the pie. Cue massive global showdown. The plot is nothing more than a backdrop for the unrelenting cycle of battles. Nonetheless, it serves its purpose well enough, and you won't be playing EndWar for the story anyway. One nice addition to the script, nonetheless, is the appearance of several familiar faces from Tom Clancy canon, such as Scott Mitchell from Ghost Recon as a commander of US forces.

Forget the traditional point and click approach of nearly every prior RTS game. Tom Clancy's EndWar allows you to control the game almost entirely with voice commands. Making use of the Xbox 360 LIVE headset or PS3 USB or Bluetooth headset, you assume command of your faction's soldiers and mechanical weapons. To order units to attack, move or to re-position the camera, it's as simple as speaking one of the preset commands into the microphone. For example, saying "Unit one, attack hostile one" will order your first set of units to attack one of several designated enemies forces. Players can also call in reinforcements and initiate special attacks such as air strikes with voice commands.

Units can be controlled almost entirely with voice commands.

Units can be controlled almost entirely with voice commands.
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EndWar is very good at recognising voice prompts, even in a noisy environment. The game very rarely fouls up orders, or fails to recognise you speaking. The command system may be simple – maybe too simple for strategy veterans used to advanced tactical gameplay – but it nonetheless works extremely well. Just don't think that the whole game can be played with voice, as you still need to press buttons to do a few actions, such as garrisoning infantry or laying minefields. Finally, for anyone who was wondering, EndWar can be played entirely with a controller, but if you want to come out ahead on the battlefield, it isn't recommended.

Battles in EndWar follow a scissors-paper-rock formula; tanks beat transports, transports beat gunships, and gunships beat tanks. This may sound relatively straightforward, but things are far from simple with artillery and infantry units also thrown into the mix. If you set up these latter two unit types correctly, they can have a distinct advantage over just about any enemy. For instance, artillery can pound the enemy from a distance, but is vulnerable at close range, and infantry can dish out serious damage if protected by cover.

Battles are spent constantly switching from one unit to the other, as you attempt to outwit the enemy with a mix of tactics and resourcefulness. Whereas games such as Age of Empires give players more of a fly-on-the-wall view of battles, EndWar brings skirmishes up close and personal. The camera always zooms in close on your selected group, giving a terrific view of the destruction. An over-arching view of the environment can nonetheless be accessed by selecting the ‘SITREP’ button, and is useful for tallying numbers and formulating long-term strategies.

Don't forget to capture uplinks – they may just make or break the battle.

Don't forget to capture uplinks – they may just make or break the battle.
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Uplinks play a pivotal role on the battlefield. Once captured by infantry, uplinks give players a certain amount of command points. Command points can in turn be expended on reinforcements and special mission support actions, such as electromagnetic strikes and calling in air support. Performing special actions are vital in the long-term, as an air strike on a group of congregated units can sometimes mean the difference between victory and defeat. Under the right battle conditions, weapons of mass destruction can even be deployed against the enemy, with serious consequences for both sides.

EndWar rewards players with finance for every separate victory. There is also incentive to keep your various units alive, which is achieved by retreating from a given skirmish whenever health gets too low. Soldiers and battalions gain levels for every battle they survive, and can be upgraded with various enhancements such as increased speed and new attacks. Upgrades and experience are useful, but aren't as vital as a sound understanding of the battlefield dynamics. Nonetheless, it is still devastating to see a veteran unit you have fully upgraded fall to a hail of enemy fire.

There are four different mission types in EndWar – conquest, assault, raid and siege. Assault simply involves eradicating the enemy. In raid, depending on which side you play, you must either destroy predetermined structures or defend them from the enemy. Conquest and siege both use uplinks as the focus of the match. In conquest, you have to beat the enemy to gain control of uplinks, while in siege, one side attempts to capture a crucial uplink and the other defends it.

The Theatre of War allows you to take the fight across the globe.

The Theatre of War allows you to take the fight across the globe.
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EndWar's single-player campaign is simply a series of predetermined battles against competent yet predictable artificial intelligence. It serves to train players in the game's various mechanics and control systems, but nothing more. Multiplayer is where the real meat of EndWar lies. Fighting your way through the online Theatre of War is where the real payoff lies, as players take turns in battling their way across the globe. Wins and losses are tallied, with each counting towards either of the three superpowers worldwide dominance. You can play as any of the three superpowers in the campaign or multiplayer, but don't expect any major difference or advantage to selecting either one of them. EndWar supports up to four players in a multiplayer match, and if you feel like taking a break from the Theatre of War, non-persistent battles can be played in skirmish mode.

EndWar does a sufficient job in both the visual and audio departments. At times, the screen can become crowded with everything that's going on, especially when facing off against the enemy. Nonetheless, the atmosphere of a frantic battlefield is portrayed convincingly with explosions, electronic pulses and artillery exchanges. Units and animations may come off as a little generic, and detail may be lacking in some areas, but overall, EndWar offers above average presentation and a smooth frame-rate. Sound also helps convey the feeling of being a real military tactician, with units continually acknowledging that they have understood your orders. The thundering of the battlefield, while authentic, often takes a back seat to the sound of your own voice though.

At its core, Tom Clancy's EndWar is a simple game. Graphics and sound are above average, and the single-player is nothing more than a training ground for multiplayer. Nonetheless, the game offers something for all players; newcomers to the RTS genre can quickly grasp the straightforward control system, while regulars can enjoy playing a functional and at times challenging strategy game for consoles. Multiplayer can be quite meaningful, and provides hours of entertainment. Above all, EndWar's voice control feature differentiates it from almost every other strategy title on the market. Voice commands work exactly as they should, giving players an innovate and functional way of controlling the battlefield. Most importantly, playing EndWar won't leave you with a headache – as many RTS games often do.
The Score
Thanks to an excellent voice command system, simple but detailed unit breakdown and a solid multiplayer mode, Tom Clancy's EndWar is possibly the best strategy game we've seen on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Tom Clancy's EndWar Content

EndWar DLC released
09 Jan, 2009 Just a few tidbits.
EndWar DLC now available
12 Dec, 2008 Time to escalate the battle.
Win one of five Tom Clancy's EndWar game guides
12 Nov, 2008 Let's end this war.
3 Comments
5 years ago
I tried the demo. It refused to accept my pronunciation of the word "one"... pass!
5 years ago
Mr Waffle wrote
I tried the demo. It refused to accept my pronunciation of the word "one"... pass!
Interestingly, that's the only word it wouldn't recognise for my son too. Everything else was OK, but "one" kept being recognised as "nine". I need to switch him over to the other English library to see if British/AMerican fixes the problem.

Everything seemed to work for me.
5 years ago
It doesn't work properly for me. Target is sometimes heard as Lima, and sometimes numbers are heard as different numbers. And it's too annoying to tell 10 units separately to move to places.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  6/11/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $89.95 AU
Publisher:
  UBI Soft
Genre:
  RTS
Year Made:
  2007

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