When you get right down to it, the story for Endwar
is little more than a way to give the gameplay some context though and from what we saw of Endwar
at UbiDays this can’t really be denied.
Sure, there’s a lot of cutscenes and inter-mission media reports to help flesh out the game world and the events that fill it, and true Ubisoft may well be looking to use the Endwar
universe as a growing franchise around which to wrap all future Clanchises, but the story isn’t all that important from what we’ve played.
Instead, what is important is the gameplay. Endwar
isn’t a game where the narration is closely tied to the gameplay, as it was in something like BioShock
. In Endwar
it’s more the case that the story and the gameplay are utterly separate elements and depending on your preference one is simply used to bulk the other up a bit.
The good news though is that no matter how anti-Clancy you are when it comes to plot, the gameplay is both solid and enriching – which is something quite difficult to say about a console based RTS game.
Let’s start at the top. Endwar
is perhaps best described as a 3D action-RTS as the focus of the game is very much set on using small numbers of units to take over medium-sized locations with minimum casualties. Supreme Commander
this is not – if anything it’s more like a shrunken down version of World in Conflict
with a much darker palette and a more sympathetic Russian antagonist.
In fact, the parallels to World in Conflict
are quite deep as Endwar
is another in a recent string of RTS games not to feature a conventional method of unit creation. It seems to be the fashion in RTS games nowadays to have player tactics dictated by unit caps which can only be described as frigid. Don’t get us wrong, there’s no point wasting life needlessly – but you’re unlikely to capture the city of Paris if you limit your forces to a handful of tanks and an engineer.
Unit creation isn’t handled by factories and barracks as it has usually been done in more traditional RTS games. Instead, available units are airlifted in to order and planted on the battlefield safely. As a reinforcement method it makes timing critical to success – you need to know exactly how long it will take a unit to be airlifted in how quickly you can get it into battle.
It’s also worth mentioning that nearly all the units in Endwar
are either drawn from real life or pulled from other Tom Clancy games. One of the developers guiding us through the game at UbiDays 2008 recently boasted to us that there wasn’t a single unit in the game that wasn’t currently being researched by the (mainly US) military.
Personally, we were more excited to see the cross over between licenses. There’s a strange shiver of melancholy to be had when you spot an intelligence briefing from Third Echelon or you hear reports from Scott Mitchell from Ghost Recon
, both of which feature prominently in the US campaign.
Of course, if you play as the Russian Spetsnaz forces in the singleplayer campaign then you won’t see much of this crossover as the Tom Clancy games have been played almost solely from the American perspective. Instead, the Russian forces only get a generic bonus when it comes to heavy weapons and armour, while the European armies has the majority of Rainbow Six on-side and excels at non-lethal and electronic attacks thanks to years of peacekeeping.