Review by DandyQuackShot
"As With Most Tom Clancy Games, EndWar is Light on Strategy and Heavy on Tactics"
Tom Clancy's EndWar is the war to end all wars at least for real time and turn based strategy games. A quickly developed and highly anticipated game, EndWar falls short by giving you a confused story, an unnecessary turn based strategy, and flawed online multiplayer. EndWar attempts to incorporate much more successful game series like Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, and Rainbow Six, but only gives them a very minor role in the great fiasco that is World War Three.
The Future is Forsaken
If you are looking for a real setup for World War III, do not rely on EndWar to predict the future. In the year 2016, a lot of things go south and by 2020 the world is at total war. Saudi Arabia is nuked and Russia takes over all of the world's natural resources and attempts to start a war between the U.S. and the totally united European continent. Obviously, the story of EndWar is not a realistic possibility as all of Tom Clancy's books have always been about those conniving former Soviet Russians. There is even a book that comes out as a prelude to this game and that only succeeds in confusing us wannabe fans of the game in trying to figure out who all is involved in the war. Realistically speaking, China would play a major role in the next world war if it ever occurs and somehow they get to take a spectator's seat for this war even though they are the economic powerhouse in the world today.
What EndWar attempts to do is envelope all of the former Tom Clancy game titles into one although none of the aspects of either Slinter Cell, Ghost Recon, or Rainbow Six ever have a true impact on the game. Instead the namesakes only have a small role to play in EndWar with the plot and some of the game play. Your Riflemen will be Ghost Recon fighters (if you are playing as the JSF of course), but 3rd Echelon will have a role in the story and you will catch it only if you are paying attention. Rainbow Six is mentioned in your battle preparation screens as your commanding officer will inform you of the opposing colonel's former occupation. EndWar's story has nothing to do with the stories of any of the other Tom Clancy games, but it does incorporate them in very small ways. There actually is not much plot detail given for the game in the boot camp tutorial and throughout the game so you will have to play as all three forces in the story campaign to get the full picture of what is going on.
Completing the game as either force only gives you a victory salute to that side so fighting the war all over again is going to be something you do reluctantly.
And what about all of those hyped up previews about a guy nuking Paris? I just don't understand. Actually, I do understand. It's called rushed development.
Get Your War On
As far as the game play goes it was nothing that meets the high expectations that I had for this game. Do not get me wrong, the voice command system is state of the art stuff and fun to play around with. However, for a real time strategy game/turn based game this is just like playing Risk with tanks and helicopters. The battles are very small scale and nowhere near what I had expected them to be. You first select a battalion from a list of a few battalions all having unique special plus this or minus that. Nobody really bothers with that kind of thing in a real time strategy game as all units should be shooting the same caliber of weapon anyway. And why would you go for a battalion with plus 10 damage and negative health when you can pick a battalion with plus five everything? I would say something about the differences between the three forces, but they all have the same type of units so they may just be slower or faster than another force and that does not make much difference to me. So after selecting a battalion you can play the AI in three difficulty modes and the campaign battles become progressively more challenging and longer as the campaign drags. There are ways to quickly end the campaign by capturing cities and air bases to constrict your opponent's movements, but you also have to defend your own turf as well. The credit system allows you to upgrade your units and special strikes, but you only need to worry about that in the more difficult modes (and definitely the online play!) so upgrading them will give you special advantages over enemies. You only get to control at most twelve units that range from riflemen to gunships. While it is fun to watch these units do battle and fair enough that they all succumb to a certain type of unit, you would expect a little bit more than the small scale battles that play out on the large scale maps. Sure, you can use big, destructive weapons, but the only thing you can nuke at most are a couple of vehicles and a handful of troops. These small units decide the fate of large expansive cities as well as the fate of the world so there is an issue of scale here. Everything fits and looks great on the map, but I'd rather not be playing Full Spectrum Warrior in a bird's eye view.
EndWar is broken up into turn based and real time strategy. The turns are not even necessary and for a game of the future as EndWar is it is sad to see those old hexagons on a map again. You will not fight every battle for your side as you can only choose one place to fight and give up other areas you could have chosen to success or defeat. I clamped down on the Russians in Europe and by the time they were wiped out by tan and blue hexagons they had somehow managed to invade and take over most of North America. Go figure. The real time strategy on the battlefield is solely decided on who has the most upgraded units. There are some different types of battles that involve attacking and defending, but most of the time you will be fighting over these silly uplink stations that give you access to special tactics like calling in air strikes and such. It isn't realistic and I have already said what I had to say about the scale issue.
A skirmish mode allows you to make your own battles and this is helpful in learning how to effectively use your newfound talents at being a colonel. The online multiplayer is a disappointment in some regards. Maybe it is because I got this game late, but even so it has not been out that long. The problem is finding a decent match online and communication and being on a decent team is critical. Single players can fight each other in one on one bouts, which is probably the best way you can do this game online. If you want to win you have to be able to talk to your teammates in 2 on 2 or 4 on 4. The reason you cannot find a decent match online is because of the poorly developed multiplayer. There are no skill levels and the leaderboards are not much to brag about, so in one match you may think you are God's gift to modern war strategy, and then the next game you are wiped out by a player who has highly developed air support. You only get credited for completing matches so if somebody bugs out at the last minute then you have basically fought a war in vain.
The Rockets' Red Flares, Bombs Bursting in Air
I was very pleased with the graphics of the game in the scenic designs and unit detail. The fight will span across three continents and each map will feature small scale cities and locations each with scenic details relative to the culture and style of that area. A lot of the historical buildings and monuments in the three major cities D.C., Paris, and Moscow are therer and it looks much to scale. The landscape will change as your battles wage on and buildings, trees, and other objects will become damaged. Kinetic strikes will trigger massive devastation to an area, but despite the almost battle pausing effect that this has the frame rate of the game does not slow down so there is a one up. An overview map will help to coordinate attacks more efficiently and you can watch a digital battle take place on this map as your forces engage hostile enemies. Characters are detailed and although the camoflauge seems odd (desert for U.S., blue for EF, green for Russia-in all environments) the units are sharply detailed and are fun to watch in action.
EndWar has some good music to it, but you do not come away with a memorable theme song to it. There are not many cut scene videos either except when the World News Network (what happened to the Global News Network from Splinter Cell?) reports a few newsclips in between battles. The voice of your commanding officer will fade out sometimes when you select a battle to fight. Beyond that, the sound effects during the game are outstanding with plenty of bomb blasting entertainment. Kinetic strikes are awesome to watch even if you make the mistake of dropping them on your own guys.
EndWar has some replay value to it. You cannot expect too much from the campaign mode if you beat it once and try to go back again other than to experience the subtle differences between factions. Skirmish mode is definitely a better mode to play around with, but the multiplayer is drastically flawed to where it drives away online gamers. The concept of the multiplayer is overall a great idea (and would be crazy if set to a first person shooter game), but just finding a game and then having to play somebody who has no life in the real world when you expect to start off playing people with your own skill may turn you off. Depending on how you play the campaign mode will determine how long it takes you to win the war. It depends on the difficulty and how well you manage your battles so you can extend that mode as long as you like really.
The achievements are mostly all multiplayer related. On top of that, most of those achievements involve killing so many numbers of this or that, or winning a certain number of games. So for those that get games solely for the prestige of having a high achievement score, this game is not worth the trouble of finding a game online.
Final Recommendation 6/10
Maybe I placed too much anticipation in this game, or maybe it's because I could make one battle of the original Command & Conquer last for 60 hours, but EndWar was a disappointment that I just wanted to keep putting off playing once the early reviews started coming in. When it comes to strategy-based games that incorporate real time strategy, I have to be amazed and awed because a game made in 1995 still dominates this type of game. EndWar would have been a great game in many other ways, like how Star Wars: Battlefront incorporates full-scale real time battles and the ability to control a soldier along with the turn based strategy. It is very easy to determine why EndWar is not the game that it could have been. The problem of EndWar is a problem that many games run into this day and age, and that problem is rushed development. When the developers have to submit to deadlines instead of the gamer's satisfaction in having dropped $60-70 down on a game then you will have small online communities and games that do not match up to early predecessors. I would suggest EndWar as a rental. It is good for the single player stuff, but definitely not worth buying as the online multiplayer is in trouble. Hopefully a truce can be brokered in the Tom Clancy world so we can get back to games (Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six) that were starting to break ground in a huge way for tactical gaming.
-Excellent battle sound effects
-Highly responsive voice command and critical need for online team communication
-Overall a great concept for a game
-Rushed development leaves out a lot of plot and game play features
-Poorly developed online multiplayer makes it hard to find a decent match
-Plot is laid out in situational manner rather than as a story despite a book and previews misleading you.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/09
Game Release: Tom Clancy's EndWar (US, 11/04/08)
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