On the battlefield, you will finally get to utilize the VRS in full swing. While you can use the control pad, analog stick, and the buttons to execute your commands, the VRS speeds everything up, eliminate that annoying point and click that is difficult to control. So, for example, if you need to send one of your units to attack an enemy, you would hold the Right Trigger and say “Unit 1 Attack Hostile 2” and release the trigger. At that point, if the command was executed properly, you will get a confirmation from that unit. If it didn’t understand you or you gave an invalid command, you will get a radio message in your headset telling you that you weren’t understood. The accuracy of the VRS, if I had to put a number on it, would be roughly 90 percent. It’s quite efficient at understanding your voice, although some words do get mixed up from time to time, such as “attack” and “abort” for example. Learning the various commands in battle will come to you in time with practice, although your screen will give you a display of the proper commands you can give, although after enough battles, they will roll off your tongue quite easily. Those who aren’t familiar with the military alphabet, such as A is Alpha, might have a little steeper learning curve, although you will only use those commands when taking over an uplink.
Battles will take anywhere from five to twenty minutes, at least with the gameplay I experienced. Some battles may go longer than that, depending on where they are located. Capital city battles, I find, are the hardest to navigate as they are a little harder to navigate with more buildings in the way. Also, when you get into your battles that require the use of twelve battle units at once, strategy becomes incredibly important. You can play defense for awhile and stretch out the battle, but it’s important to balance out your units and take advantage of geography as well as what your opponent is using. Loading up on one unit simply will not work and you will get exploited.
Campaign mode doesn’t have a set amount of turns before it ends. It varies on how many territories each nation has and if one has an overwhelming advantage over the other two. I was a little disappointed, however, at my first run through Campaign as it ended in 16 turns, yet I wasn’t able to experience taking over a capital city. It had been rumored that, in the higher skill levels, you would be required to take over at least one capital, but this has not been confirmed or denied. The campaign’s length will also hinge at how aggressive you are. You can fight defensive battles once an enemy tries to invade your home soil or you can risk it and do an all out assault on a single nation. You must choose wisely, however, as each turn will afford you the opportunity to pick from any number of battles. You can only fight one, though. The other battles will take place at the same time may or may not go in your favor, so there is an element of chance that goes into selecting your fights.
There are some negatives that need to be addressed, however. Obviously, the VRS is very good but has its flaws. You can get caught panicking if things aren’t going your way and rush some of your commands, thus throwing off the recognition and coming back with an error. Also, you may give a command to a unit but, if they are getting flanked by an enemy, you may get ignored and the unit will continue to fight. This doesn’t happen too often, but is certainly a possibility. On top of this, some players may get frustrated as battles get more and more confusing when the number of units you control increase. Trying to keep track of twelve units and deploy them in the necessary manner will test one’s wits and may wear you down if you don’t keep calm. Of course, this may not necessarily be viewed as a negative for hardened players, but may scare off some of the more casual players who are trying out an RTS for the first time.
EndWar also features an online multiplayer that will certainly test your wits and strategies. You can choose to do a single battle if you want to sharpen your skills against other players, or you can enter into a Massively Multiplayer Campaign where you take control of a nation against players from around the world. Keep in mind, though, that the MMC portion of online play can take days, not hours. Upon logging into an MMC match, I found that my turn would end in three hours if I didn’t make a move. The campaign online, itself, saves once a player completes a turn. This system will certainly be tested once more players get online, but it’s an added twist to the gameplay element of EndWar. It’s one that is certainly welcome, as change and risk are never frowned upon.
EndWar gives us a wonderfully fresh look at the future of the RTS genre. The Voice Recognition System works exceptionally well with a few hiccups here and there. It takes some time to get used to executing commands, but once it is learned, battles will become easier to manage as you learn the ins and outs of the game. There are some minor problems when it comes to the overall AI of certain commands given and no local multiplayer is a little bit of a disappointment, but understandable with the VRS and having more than one person in battle. Ultimately, the Tom Clancy series gets another solid title under its belt. If you have ever tried out an RTS or are looking at getting into the field of battle for the first time, pick up EndWar. You will not be disappointed.
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