Meeting the competition
With Tom Clancyís EndWar, Ubisoft aimed to bring a full fledged strategy title to console gamers. Replacing the mouse with voice commands proved to be a daring move that was appreciated by many who have been trusting a PC mouse as their main input device for strategy games. While the attempt did not exactly fail, the game did not turn out to be the messiah of console strategy gaming either. Broadening EndWarís platform horizons, PC gamers can finally get to grips with Ubisoftís experiment and see if it stacks up to its genre peers on a platform that is teeming with competition.
Rather than asking you to choose which faction to fight for right at the start of the game, EndWarís campaign first lets you play a few missions for each side. The early missions further the overall storyline, introducing you to the gameís near-future Earth gameworld and showing you how three super-power nations plunge into World War III. At some point, the player is educated enough as to how things came to pass. Only then are you asked to make the choice which nation deserves your loyalty and from this point on, the game no longer Ďforcesí you to take a particular mission, offering you a choice instead.
The player selects a combat group to lead throughout the campaign. Combat groups consist of a number of different units that focus on a particular specialization. My favorite combat group adds a 10% damage bonus to artillery units at the cost of 5% of their hitpoints. I usually donít plan on taking my artillery to the frontlines, so this is a fair tradeoff in my book.
Cover me, Iím going in
With the preparations behind you, it is time to take your new command to the battlefield. Selecting a mission from the (short) list, you dive headfirst into defending your home turf, or taking the fight to the enemy. A small number of handpicked units are deployed when you enter the map. Reinforcements become available throughout the mission but there are never more than 12 on the field at any given time. There are limited reinforcements available and keeping your units alive is paramount to your missionís success. Disabled units can be returned to the reinforcement pool if your (automated) support choppers can evacuate them fast enough. Defending a fallen unit is definitely more than a worthy goal.
There are two ways to win a mission. The first is to destroy all enemy units, which means battering down on disabled enemy units so that they canít return to the reinforcement roll. The second is to take control of the majority of the communication hubs spread out over the map. Having only two winning conditions tends to get repetitive after a while and it is probably the gameís only real weakness. I experienced some feeling of deja-vu because of a limited number of maps. The overall campaign map is divided into sectors, each offering only a single map to play on. Sectors are heavily contended, causing you to return to some maps numerous times either to conquer or defend it.
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