Traditionally the PC has been the main vehicle for real-time strategy games due to the sheer amount of command options due to controll limitations, but with the addition of voice commands, Tom Clancy’s Endwar attempts to show that the console can be home to similarly complex and engrossing strategy experiences; surprisingly, it succeeds, and while it may not surpass the PC’s greatest, it holds its own.
As with all Clancy games, Endwar takes places in the near future. The United States, a unified Europe, and Russia vie for world supremacy until the launch of a U.S. space station attempts to tip the balance, but the destruction of the station by a group of terrorists instigates the beginning of World War III. Merely a façade for the game, the story is bypassed almost completely to focus on the gameplay, so don’t expect any thrilling turn of events or interesting personas to be present here. But dropping the ball on the story does not carry over to the gameplay which is as solid as they come for real-time strategy games.
You take control of up to twelve individual units as you attempt to clear the map of your enemies. Using a basic rock-paper-scissor decision process you can order units to attack, and backup others or call in reinforcements. While this may not seem like much, when dealing with so many units on a large map it gets extremely complex very fast. Troop balancing is the name of the game as you are constantly challenged to focus on several different areas all at once, while the enemy AI does not let up on you. Here is where the voice command either makes or breaks your experience.
Using a headset, the voice recognition of Endwar does an extremely good job registering commands and simplifying gameplay to manageable levels. It is possible to play without the headset but the controls can’t keep up with the constantly changing situations and you will find yourself behind the power curve. This is especially the case should you take your game online to multiplayer mode, where anyone with a headset and half a brain will completely cream a controller-only foe.
The single player campaign is really a tutorial for going online; multiplayer is where all the action and challenge is. You can face off single player versus single player or more interesting are the 24 hour battles that you can drop in and out of. Either way if you aren’t playing with the voice commands, you are going to lose. Period.
Endwar is a great real-time strategy game that doesn’t pull any punches with its gameplay, even though it appears on a console. Graphics and especially sound help give a sense of urgency to a very complex title that should excite console fanatics who have been waiting for a decent RTS to call their own.
Review Score: 4/5
Plays Like: Complex real-time strategy based in the near-future
PROS: Highly complex, superbly executed and visually stunning
CONS: Complex for the common player and it is a significantly different play style without voice command capability