Written by: Michael Smith
Gaming in Manhattan! Most of the major gaming events in North America take place on the Left Coast, including the recently concluded E3 Expo in Los Angeles and the Penny Arcade PAX event in Seattle. So, when Ubisoft invited Adrenaline Vault to their holiday release party in New York City, we jumped at the chance to bring you all of the details about the publisher’s games due out this holiday season. The best of them include an innovative third-person combat game, a sequel offering a more realistic direction than its sci-fi-based predecessor, another sequel featuring a refreshing change of attitude towards the gamer, and a simple yet very addictive restaurant-management sim.
Tom Clancy’s Endwar
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Release date: 11/4 (Xbox, PS3), Spring 2009 (PC)
Gamers who know me know that I hate the Xbox 360 controller. My hands yearn for the old days when all you needed to control a video game was a joystick and a fire button. The developers of Tom Clancy’s Endwar apparently feel my pain; they’ve finally created a game that only requires your voice and one gamepad trigger to control.
Endwar simulates future military events that could eventually lead to World War III. You select one of three factions (USA, Europe or Russia) and one of 40 maps, set in places such as Washington, DC, Paris or Moscow. You are given a series of control points to capture, and to win, you must either secure the majority of the control points or annihilate all of the enemy forces. You go to war with a selection of seven types of units, including infantry, artillery and air forces, all based on military hardware that is either already in existence or in development.
I viewed the Xbox 360 version of the game, and it’s impressive. The graphics are sharp and amazingly detailed, the enemy AI puts up an excellent fight, and the third-person camera is completely controllable. Your point of view is always from the currently selected unit, so if you want to see something up close, choosing your closest unit to the target gives you the view you need. Online multiplayer includes 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2 combat on all 40 of the single-player maps.
The real selling point of Endwar is the voice-command system. Surprisingly, the system does not require calibration using your own voice. Endwar Creative Director Julian Gerighty walked me through the E3 demo, then gave me the headset and let me try out the voice controls, and the game recognized my speech without trouble, even though my accent is considerably different than Gerighty’s. Endwar is programmed with a series of keywords that the player uses to control his units. All it takes is one trigger press to activate the voice control; pull the trigger, speak your commands and release. You’ll be happy that you have this ability; the speed of this game requires that you spend as little time as possible hunting for buttons (you can play the game without the voice command, but the headset makes success much easier).
Endwar won the Best Strategy Game award at this year’s E3, and the few moments I had playing the game made me see why. It’s definitely something you’ll want to include in your letter to Santa this fall.