Tom Clancy's EndWar Review


Once purely a PC game genre, Strategy gaming is enjoying a renaissance on consoles. Top-tier strategy games and longstanding PC franchises are now being simultaneously released on PCs and consoles, and sometimes, as is the case with EndWar, consoles are even getting their own exclusive releases. EndWar is not your typical PC-inspired strategy game, though. It's akin to a summer release, special effects heavy blockbuster movie. It looks great, there's plenty of action, and it comes with some unique thrills, but at its core it's pretty simple.

EndWar is set in the near future in which global politics are dominated by three superpowers: the US, a unified Europe, and Russia. An arms race boils over into a war that pits the three superpowers against each other. Overall the story's pretty thin and is only used to provide a thin narrative thread between the missions. This is somewhat surprising for a Tom Clancy game, as games that carry this moniker usually have detailed and intricate story lines with realistic "it could happen tomorrow" scenarios. There's not much in the way of individual character with the game's three factions either. The units may look different, but they are essentially equivalent and playing as one faction is pretty much the same as playing as one of the others.

The lack of depth to the storyline and factions extends to the units themselves. There's a basic counter system in place that creates a rock-paper-scissors relationship between the units. You quickly learn to send attack helicopters against tanks, to use APCs to take out helicopters, and that tanks are very effective against APCs. Overall there are not that many different types of units in the game, especially when you compare it to other modern strategy games. Some additional variety is added through support powers such as air strikes and unit upgrades which can be earned by veteran units that survive a battle, but there's not enough diversity in the game's arsenal of units to support a wide range of strategy and tactics. Part of the fun of strategy games comes from experimenting with different mixes and combinations of units and tailoring your army on the fly to react to your opponent's unit mix, and you just don't get this in EndWar. But on the other hand, if you've always found the number of units in strategy games to be too much to deal with, then you may appreciate EndWar's streamlined arsenal.

Battles in the game all take the form of one of four modes: assault, raid, siege, and conquest. Assault is basically a death match with the last side standing declared the victor. Raid and siege are similar modes in which one side must destroy some buildings or capture a critical objective while the other must prevent the attacker from doing so. Conquest is a fight for strategic points on the map that generate command points that can be spent on reinforcements and to call in special attacks. This is the most interesting mode because it makes for battles with a lot of ebbs and flows until one side begins to build enough momentum to overwhelm the other.