Republished with permission of gamepeople.co.uk game reviews.
Tom Clancy, writer of many high-octane novels, and, in more recent years, the name put forward to help sell Redsoft and then Ubisoft games, is now the face of End War, a console and PC based Real Time Strategy (RTS) title based in the year 2020 during World War 3 and its build up.
The main aim behind End War was to do what other console strategy titles had failed to do in the past: give the user an efficient control system that would rival the versatility found in a PC platform of keyboard and mouse. It’s a trick that Halo Wars 360 is also setting its sights on.
To achieve these aims, End War utilizes the standard controller commands you would expect, D-pad unit selection, A is the command button giving you the option to take cover, move here, enter building – depending on what unit is selected and where your cursor is.
However, the innovative part of the controller system comes with the voice commands, which seem to have taken a back seat in other titles. The only other real implementation I’ve seen is the basic Bot control commands given during Unreal Tournament PS3 single player matches.
The voice commands given are relatively extensive, with you being able to select individual units or groups and give them a variety of commands with a who-what-where gimmick. For example, “Unit 1, move to, alpha,” would send your first unit to the alpha position. Another command could read “unit 12, attack, hostile 4,” causing your 12th unit to move into position to attack hostile unit 4, be it tanks, attack choppers, or infantry.
Unfortunately while the voice commands are relatively diverse (there are plenty of commands you can give), within a reasonably short time period you’ll begin hitting walls. While the voice recognition is almost always bang on, when the game gets it wrong you get frustrated, and with agitation comes faster speech with more deliberate syllables which simply increases the chances of it mishearing you and sending your units off into the distance.
Also, some units, especially it seems the attack helicopters, suffer from the usual stupidity found in many RTS games, and will simply stall in their attack for whatever reason. This can end in you repeating the same commands over and over which after a while can grate a little.
The only other problem I had wasn’t so much a problem, but a wish. With the commands being so fixed, I’d have loved to have seen a voice recording function allowing you to create your own commands. Why can’t I teach the game to let me say “roll out” for an all out attack? Or have “glass ’em” for the launching of a WMD? This would add a whole other level of strategy to the game, allowing users to create new quick orders for commands that might take longer using the rigid tree-like command system currently in place.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun ordering units around with my voice, and being able to yell at units for doing the wrong thing can be a great stress reliever, but the system isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, the novelty of voice commands wears off a little quickly for this reviewer. I’m hoping to see more of it in games to come, but perhaps relegate voice commands to more detailed actions that are difficult to perform with a mouse, or controller, not simple commands such as the ones used in End War.