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Tom Clancy's End War

Score: 92%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft China
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 1 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Gimmick games NEVER work! That is, until they do. I got sucked into trying a game on the PS2 that was voice command only, and I wanted to hurl my PS2 into oblivion. I fully expected the same here. When I put in Tom Clancy's: End War, I was absolutely expecting to have to deal with all of the perils that I have had to face with games and voice recognition all over again. Worse than that, I was quick to doubt the integrity of the game's name and quality based on the gimmick of voice control. I cannot explain how elated I am that my preconceived notions were absolute rubbish. Thank you End War, and thank you Ubisoft.

This is an Unreal III game, and it looked like one as well. There is an undeniable and very distinct look to the games produced on this engine. With maybe one exception I can think of, you can pick them out of a lineup every time. It's a good looking game. Some of the details are lost just because you play from a good distance from your target, but when you get right up on objects, there is a great amount of detail.

The music is right on par and is everything it needed to be to give you that epic war feeling. What is more defining about the sound in this game is the voice acting. I have to admit I was hoping for some variation, but it was exactly what I expected. Your commands are answered by static and repetitive confirmations from the NPC groups you have ordered into action. They were what they needed to be, so this is in no way a knock. I was just hoping there would be some variation in the replies. The briefings were all voiceover narration on static maps. Again these were everything they needed to be.


Gameplay:

Tom Clancy's: End War allows you to take command of the armies of three different national groups. There are the Americans, Europeans, and Russians. This is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) which is not only on the console, but was made for the console. I have always reserved the RTS genre for serious PC play, and I still do. There is an anemic storyline associated with the game. I was only sad to see this because it held the Clancy name. I have certain bold expectations from the storyline of these games, as well as a gameplay expectation. You hop around from army to army playing different roles as each part of the, aah-em!, story unfolds.

Once you have gone through the cutscene/briefing, you are dropped directly into battle. You use a key command, (RT), to activate the voice command. Then you simply speak the available commands for each unit. It is a very simplified command structure. You are given prompts from the system as to what is or is not available. Move your troops into position to secure objectives, and then shoot all of the bad guys. There you have it. You will earn points called "Command Points" that you can spend on upgrades for your units. This gives it an almost RPG feel to the game and does something not many RTS games do. It gives you a reason to keep troops and units alive.

There is the single player and multiplayer aspect of the game. The single player game is a giant tutorial where they ramp up the stakes very progressively and present new situations to teach how to be prepared for what is the real point of the game. The point I am referring to is the persistent online world called Theater of War. You choose a side and play for the fate of the world. It works on a 24 hour timer that looks at all of the matches played, won, and lost, and then it redraws the territories based on this information. Just like the "command points" from above, you earn points that you can use to upgrade surviving troops and units in your Barracks at the end of each match.


Difficulty:

Tom Clancy's: End War is all about the human element when it comes to difficulty. This is a unique game in the way it adds many factors from different genres together. The only way any of these can become difficult is if you lack familiarity with them. Like most RTS's, this is a boiled down, or scaled up depending on your view, game of rock, paper, scissors. This is a hard and fast rule. I can't recall a time one unit was able to apply sheer determination to change the rule that aircraft will not stand up against anti-aircraft guns. Makes sense doesn't it; you just don't always see that in games. To be successful, know the rules and the units. That is all that you will need besides a quick wit and a fast tongue.

Game Mechanics:

What was surprising and noteworthy about Tom Clancy's: End War for me was all of the genre mixing. You had the obvious RTS element. You had the Role Playing Game (RPG) element because you would upgrade troops and units. You threw in a little third person action with the way your camera was tied into units only. You even have the Massive Multiplayer Online element with the persistent battlefield. I want to go back to the camera for a second. I really liked that it was only associated with the units. It always felt like a way too convenient element in RTS's was that you could see everything in your area. Sure "Fog of War" was there to block you from seeing the whole screen, but I just really liked only being able to see what the troops saw.

You were able to control the game just as simply with the game pad controls as as you were the voice commands. It was actually easier and faster to do it through the voice commands, and I really liked that. You would activate the voice command and you could instantly see what was available to request. So for an example, I would like to move my troops from one spot to another and have them take cover. Every unit, location, and enemy had some form of designation. So I would pull the trigger and say, "Unit 2 move to target zulu," and it was done. What impressed me even more than the fact it always understood me was that I even when I used the wrong word sometimes, it got the job done. I constantly was saying "enemy" instead of "hostile" and it would still do as I asked. Even during the heat of battle where I may, or may not, have been a little excited while shouting at the game, no problem.

A very interesting and fun game to play indeed. I really enjoyed it. This is nothing like the RTS you will find on any format, PC or Console. It is worth picking up and not just renting. You will not be disappointed if you like RTS's, or going head to head with other players.


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Microsoft Xbox 360 NCAA Basketball 09 Windows American McGee's Grimm: The Pied Piper

 
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