Real-Time Strategy. A simple name for a genre so complex and hard to master. Born on the PC and defined by series like Dune, Warcraft or Command & Conquer, for a long time it was believed that it will always remain in the kingdom of the mouse and keyboard. But with the birth of the current generation of consoles, RTS games became slowly, but surely more and more attractive for publishers, especially since the current offerings in this department are rather low.
But the main problem with RTS on consoles has always been the control scheme, because a controller cannot compare itself with the established mouse + keyboard combo. Some producers have tried to introduce different complicated button combos, but for EndWar, Ubisoft decided to try out something new: instead of reinventing the wheel, they preferred to offer an alternative to it, even if it’s one apparently radical: voice command.
World War III
The action of EndWar is placed in a not so distant future, in which in the year 2016 a nuclear attack kills millions of people in Saudi Arabia and destroys the most important refineries, sky-rocketing the price of the oil in the process. A year later, to prevent a nuclear holocaust, the United States and the European Federation (all the European states united under one roof, except Great Britain and Ireland) agree to launch satellites that can destroy ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile). In turn, Russia creates its own defense system, so nuclear missiles become obsolete.
Meanwhile, Russia becomes the number one natural gas and oil producer, so it’s enjoying a healthy financial situation. The Russians use these resources to arm themselves massively, fact that generates different reaction across the Globe. In response, the United States decides to launch in space the Freedom Star, an orbital platform from where three detachments of Marines can be deployed anywhere on the Globe in 90 minutes.
The international reaction is extremely negative on this move, each party having its own fear. The Russians fear that the Americans will grow stronger, while the Europeans see in this move a way to short-circuit the anti-nuclear treaty. As a protest, the Europeans pull out from NATO, and now each faction prepares itself for the war to come.
After we get used to the control scheme, the units and game types in the tutorial missions from “Prelude to War”, we are presented a World Map with different territories that can be conquered. To win, you must either capture all capitals, or control 28 territories. The moves on the World Map are turn-based, so you can only attack one territory per turn. So you can start a costly three-turn battle for a metropolis, or attack the surrounding territories around it that provide its support.
Once the target has been chosen, the actual battle is fought in real time. If you lose one, you can redo it with extra help consisting of a few units. This can be done as many times as you want, because the game never ends until you haven’t met the final victory conditions. The difference is in the quantity of money you earn at the end of each mission, so quickly completing a mission is more beneficial from a financial point of view.
Before the hostilities begin we will have to choose one of the three factions, each with its advantages. The American Joint Strike Force is based on small and fast units and specializes in stealth technology and drones. The European Enforcer Corps are experts in urban warfare and using electronic warfare, their vehicles being extremely mobile. The Russian Guards Brigade on the other hand relies on heavy weapons and armors. Also, each faction has more battalions from which you can chose, each relying on a different type of fighting style or unit type.
In single-player, depending on the terrain and accessibility, there are four types of missions: conquest, assault, siege and raid.
Conquest is the most common game type. You start with only three units, having the possibility to call in reinforcement. The goal is to capture more than half of the uplinks in a five minute timeframe or completely destroy the enemy forces. When more than half of the uplinks are controlled, the “Defcon One” state is initiated and the opponent can use weapons of mass destruction. On the other end is the Assault mode, where the only goal is to simply wipe out the enemy forces.
Raid is very similar to Conquest, just that for the final Victory you must sabotage more than half of the enemy uplinks in less than ten minutes, or the other way around: keep more than half of the uplinks for ten minutes.
Finally, there’s Siege, which is dedicated to assaults on capital cities, where the attackers need to capture a main uplink, which is bigger than the normal ones. Again, this has to happen in ten minutes. If not, the defenders will receive massive reinforcements, thus making the task a lot more difficult. On the other hand, until those ten minutes expires, the defenders can’t call in reinforcement or helicopters to evacuate their wounded.