|Tom Clancy's EndWar Hands-On
We got our hands, or rather voice, on Ubisoft's upcoming wargame.
By Joe Dodson, GameSpot Posted May 28, 2008 2:33 pm PT
EndWar is an upcoming real-time strategy game from Ubisoft that takes a unique approach to war; it uses voice commands. At the recent Ubidays event, we gave our voices and this game a try, and we have to say that sticks and stones better watch out, because words can now officially hurt you.
If you aren't familiar with EndWar, it will feature two main modes: Annihilation and Conquest. In our preview of EndWar, we played a Conquest match, but this time we got to pit our vocal chords against the computer in Annihilation. Whereas Conquest is a large-scale battle with lots of players, Annihilation is one-on-one, with each player controlling six units and vying for control of six victory locations.
The battle was in Paris, and we played as Russia against the European Federation, battling back and forth across the Seine River for territorial supremacy. Voice commands aside, EndWar is a straightforward RTS game, with a very easy-to-grasp rock-paper-scissors dynamic. Tanks kill transports, transports kill gunships, and gunships kill tanks. You also need infantry to capture victory locations, and artillery can kill pretty much anything from a distance, or get killed by anything from nearby.
We began the battle with two battalions of tanks, transports, two battalions of choppers (gunships), and some troops. We immediately ordered the troops (who were group four) to capture Whiskey, the closest victory point. We said, "Unit four capture Whiskey!" and our troops immediately moved out to capture it. Meanwhile, we moved our tanks to a bridge crossing that we expected the enemy to try to cross. However, given that we had two groups of tanks and didn't want to issue two separate commands, we put our targeting reticle on the bridge and said "Calling all tanks, move to target!" And sure enough, all of our tanks moved there.
Considering that we weren't entirely sure what the enemy was up to, we switched to our choppers with the command "Unit three camera!" (We yelled everything, though we didn't have to), and moved them across the river to scout the enemy movements. We saw enemy troops capturing a point, and noticed that the troops had a number four under them, so we said "Calling all tanks, attack hostile four!" At that moment, we saw transports moving toward our gunships, so we moved the ships back to Whiskey with a simple "Unit three move to Whiskey!"
We battled back and forth, but by sending our tanks after their transports and our transports after their choppers, all the while capturing points with our troops, we managed to swing the battle drastically in our favor. With the enemy back on their heels, the match entered the "EndWar" phase, which gave them access to a WMD strike. They quickly hit us with a devastating attack that annihilated all of our transports and troops, who had been stationed at a base. Fortunately, we had built up enough points by dint of our victory locations for a WMD strike of our own, and the screen flashed white as we blasted an entrenched enemy stronghold in which infantry had been garrisoned in convincingly French-looking buildings.
Throughout the whole match, we never had a backfire for a correctly stated command, and the game took place in a noisy room. Although all of the commands and syntax will no doubt take some getting used to, from what we saw, learning to speak EndWar should be a uniquely entertaining lesson when the game ships later this year.