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Preview: Tom Clancy’s EndWar Hands-On

Despite being a writer, Tom Clancy’s name is one of the most well-known names in the gaming world. Ubisoft have attached his name to the likes of Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six Vegas and announced Clancy’s name would be attached to EndWar back in April 2007. Tom Clancy’s EndWar is a step in a new direction for Ubisoft as they clear the first/third person shooters to the side for a shot at the real-time tactical genre.

“They promised the shield would save us from nuclear annihilation. They were right. They also promised a new era of peace.”

I was lucky enough to be able to play the ‘Prelude to War’ mission from the single player campaign, Skirmish mode and I had a go with the Voice Command Trainer.

The Voice Command Trainer was a tutorial to the game in which I simply had to read out the instructions on screen which can be used on the battlefield. The VCT was a great way of introducing players to the game and shows how easy the game’s voice controls are to pick-up-and-play.

In the single player mission I was introduced to General Scott Mitchell – a familiar face to those who have played Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 – leader of the United States’ Joint Strike Force. Scott Mitchell introduced the mission with a brief about how an unknown hostile has attacked the JFK Space Centre. It was my task to eliminate the threat. Whilst the mission was very short (I managed to finish it within three minutes), it was a very promising indication that the campaign will be one to remember.

In the Skirmish mode, I had a choice between playing one versus one, or one versus AI. As you do, I played both and found both to be great fun. The aim of the game was to take over all the command points/uplinks or eliminate the opposing team’s hostiles. When playing against opposition over Xbox Live, there was very little or no lag – a crucial element for a real-time strategy title. If the demo version of Skirmish mode is anything to go by, the mode in the final game could prove to be a classic.

“It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.” – John F. Kennedy

The units that can be deployed are riflemen, engineers, tanks, transports, gunships, artillery, and command vehicles, each of which has their own efficiencies and vulnerabilities. For example: riflemen are great for securing command points/uplinks but poor against vehicles in battle.

The game’s presentation is shaping up to be rather nice. The on-screen HUD isn’t as complex as you might expect it to be. The radar/map in the top right corner is easily identifiable, the mission progress bar at the bottom left as well as the numbered unit cards (used for instructing in the Voice Command System). Graphically, EndWar is also rather impressive. There are some weak textures but on the whole it’s a great looking-game.

Whilst the game may use the Voice Command System (and a very good one at that), there are a few controls in the game. Holding the right trigger allows you to speak in the voice command system; the left bumper displays mission support when pressed; the directional-pad can be used to select a unit card; the A button to move, attack and secure and the two thumbsticks are used to control the camera.

Real time strategy games haven’t been the most popular genre on the Xbox 360 and after playing Tom Clancy’s EndWar, I really think it could be a strong contender to regain faith in the genre. The voice commands are a superb feature within the game though I could see the gimmick wearing off after a few games.

Tom Clancy’s EndWar is expected to release on Friday 7th November 2008. Keep an eye out for our full review closer to the release.

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