Condemn O.R. Condone – Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online Beta (PC)

Real Time Strategy games may not exactly be the talk of the town anymore, but I nonetheless anticipate when an RTS of note is on the horizon. Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online has been in development for a while now and has had some closed alpha testing in the past, but now the game is opening up for more people to experience. I have to say, while it certainly isn’t a revolutionary experience, EndWar Online executes the RTS formula very well and kept me engaged in its beta for many hours and likely will for many more.

The game has a pretty simple premise, as the world has essentially gone to hell in a hand basket and all parts of the world are battling each other in World War 3. The war goes on for so long that eventually everyone runs out of supplies, though that doesn’t mean the war is over and the fighting continues as each faction needs a general to boost morale and turn the tide of the war. That’s where you come in, as you choose to lead one of 3 factions as you aim to rebuild your HQ and reclaim all of your areas lost land and win that war!

EndWar Online eases you into its mechanics very gradually, as you start off with very basic levels where you learn to deploy your units like tanks, gunships, infantry and so on. You will have a set amount of each type of unit to deploy per match, and each unit comes with a varying recharge rate. Your objectives are typically pretty simple, as you and your opponent have a base and it’s your goal to destroy the enemy base before they destroy your base. Your units will act on their own once you have chosen their paths and deployed them into battle, though you do have control in utilizing their rechargeable special abilities that speed them up or make them cause more damage. Each stage comes with 3 secondary objectives that will grant you a star each, resulting in you getting bigger rewards upon completion of the battle. Veteran and Elite difficulties can be unlocked further down the road as you increase your level for those looking for more of a challenge than the initial difficulty offers, while also increasing your level completion rewards even further.

There are 3 main forms of currency that you’ll gain by completing battles that all have specific uses throughout the various mechanics of the game; and they are energy, fame and gold. Energy is the most common and is used to do things like level unit zones to increase their overall HP, increase the stats of your commanders to make them stronger and grant them additional abilities. Fame is used solely to enlist new commanders into your army, which grants you units with different abilities compared to the ones you start off with. For example: your initial tank commander may start with the focus fire ability to do bigger damage, though you can recruit a different tank commander that instead starts with the Force Field to boost defense. Gold is less abundant and is most helpful in speeding up the process of expanding your zones, and if you get impatient and are out of gold you can spend real money to remedy that.

Yes, seeing as the game is free-to-play it does have in-game transactions that are constantly letting you know of their presence. You can spend a chunk of money to get a ton of gold and new commanders to make things easier for you, and even if you don’t the game will always keep a “friendly” reminder that you can on the side of the screen. The incessant offers to spend real money can become annoying, but luckily I never got to the point where I felt they were necessary. If you know what you’re doing and play your cards right you will have all of the in-game resources you need to steadily level up your army and complete the dozens of courses on offer without forking over a single real-life penny.

Your individual units alone have plenty of customization options for you to tinker around with, as you can equip them with different ammo, armor, attack systems and defense systems. The game thankfully streamlines the constant unlocks by letting you know when you have gear that can be used to improve one of your commanders, which keeps the customization from getting too convoluted and overwhelming. Apart from leveling your commanders through deploying them and completing stages with them, you can also increase their rank which will allow you to deploy more units in battle while also greatly improving their HP.

Tom Clancy's EndWar Online Review

Graphically the game isn’t all that impressive, as it has a very basic setup with level designs and textures that are all pretty plain. You’re never gonna come across a course that drops your jaw or really wows you with its cleverness, which is a shame in some respects considering how good some other games in this genre look. However, I find that more forgivable in a web-based, arcadey game like this as its silly dialogue and graphics are all part of its charm. The game definitely isn’t trying to cram in some deep or complex story around its easily-digestible levels, and the developers took the right route by keeping the look and feel playful.

EndWar Online also has a multi-player component that currently offers Fortress mode and War Game mode, which are asynchronous and synchronous, respectively. In Fortress mode you will be selecting your troops and battling against a real-life loadout of your opponents that is controlled by AI. War Game is the more standard affair, as you are taking on your opponent in real-time and these matches tend to be much more bombastic and intense. It’s all about who can click the button first to get the troops rolling out to land the first hits or capture specific points on the map to gain stat boosts, and it’s usually all about brute force in my experience of these matches. Nothing too flashy about these modes as it’s literally the same exact experience you would be getting by playing the single-player, but it’s still fun to take on other people from around the world. More modes are gradually being added in both single and multi-player, but the aforementioned modes were all I had access to as of this review.

I can’t say I was expecting a whole lot from this beta, but Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online left me pleasantly surprised. It’s RTS formula is pretty standard as far as the genre goes, but it does what it does well enough and offers so much content that it’s easy to overlook. Managing your own army in quick and action-packed battles is always a blast, and there’s enough customization packed in for your to create your own strategies for completing the levels. If you’re into this genre or are at all curious to giving the beta a shot, then Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online is a safe bet for you. With more development time and refinement this game will only get better, but even at its current state it’s a blast.

RESPECTABLE

The Game Awards 2015 Summary & Review – Good Games, Good Music, Good Times!

So the Game Awards came back for a second round this year with The Game Awards 2015 after what I though was a pretty solid debut last year, and overall I would say it was another very solid showing. Geoff Keighley was once again great presenting many of the awards and we *did* get to see a lot of great new games/footage as well as take up some great discounts on games. It all felt a lot like a big thank you to all the gamers out there around the world and I really enjoyed that.

The highlight of the evening for me was the tribute to Satoru Iwata, where they showed a brief montage of pictures of him before bringing out Reggie Fils-Aime to give a moving speech followed by an emotional performance from Ben Harper. I couldn’t find a video including the performance from Harper, but I’ve linked the rest of the tribute directly below. RIP, Satoru Iwata.

A heck of a lot of great announcements were made, so below you can find my quick thoughts of the entire thing.

The Announcements

What was perhaps the biggest news of the night was that Double Fine revealed that they are crowdfunding Psychonauts 2 for release in 2018. Interestingly enough, the crowdfunding is being done through a new site called Fig. It operates very similarly to other crowd-funding sites, but the catch is when you donate you are also investing in the game and will thus make money off the game once it releases relative to how much it sells and much you invested. Pretty cool.

We already knew about Far Cry Primal, but the show gave us a new gameplay trailer that really showcased the game’s visceral and brutal setting. It looks like they are taking the best parts of Far Cry 4 and making an entire game based solely around those parts, and I am 100% down for that!

Remember The Elder Scrolls Online? No? Me neither! However, Bethesda is pulling a stunt with the game that is sure to get a lot of people to check the game out from now until early January, as they revealed that playing the game during that time will make you eligible for a chance to win $1,000,000. No joke! All you have to do is fill out a form on the game’s website and have an active account.

The folks at Naughty Dog are hard at work on the new Uncharted game, but that didn’t stop them from releasing a new clip of footage that reveals a new character in the game named Nadine Ross. Drake tries to play it cool, but quickly ends up getting his butt kicked a little in what was a gorgeous looking cinematic. Drake really has aged!

It wouldn’t be a gaming event without learning that Telltale Games is taking on yet another major license and turning it into an episodic adventure, but this reveal is one of the biggest yet. Telltale is taking on none other than BATMAN in a new game that is slated for release next year.

There were rumors that the big man himself, Shaq, would be making an appearance at the show and the rumors were true. Shaq announced a new eSports league as well as the winner for best eSports team, but the real news was that the classic Shaq Fu from 1994 is being remastered in Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn.

Quantum Break also made an appearance, getting yet another cinematic trailer to sink your teeth into. Hard to judge a whole lot from a cinematic trailer, but I’m still really looking forward to Remedy’s follow-up to the fantastic Alan Wake.

Oculus’ Palmer Lucky came out being his naturally goofy self, though his big reveal was that Rock band VR is coming to Oculus Rift next year. Seems kinda cool, but at the end of the daythe game still plays just like Rock Band always did, just now you can turn your head and see people around you. Next!

I had posted recently that Shadow Complex Remastered had been leaked for PC, and that turned out to be true. However, what I did not hear is that they are releasing the game for FREE throughout the holiday season! Also, the game *will* be making its way to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners, too.

A brief alpha gameplay trailer was also revealed for Star Citizen, which looked pretty cool but nothing to really go crazy about.

You thought the Telltale Games news was over, didn’t you? Nope! It was also revealed that a spin-off series called The Walking Dead: Michonne. It’s Telltale, it’s their Walking Dead series, so of course it looks pretty good.

Another rumor that ended up being true was that Rocket League is coming to Xbox One. I already said this recently but I’ll say it again: this is awesome. Rocket League was the surprise hit of the year and I believe that as many people as possible should be able to play it.

Definitely some great announcements to witness, but now it’s time to see who were the big winners of the evening for gaming. Scroll down for a complete list of games/devs/people who went home with awards (marked in bold):

The Winners

Game of the Year

  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
  • Super Mario Maker
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Developer of the Year

  • Bethesda Game Studios
  • CD Projekt Red
  • From Software
  • Kojima Productions
  • Nintendo

Best Shooter

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Splatoon
  • Star Wars Battlefront

Best Action-Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

Best RPG

  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Undertale

Best Fighting Game

  • Guilty Gear Xrd Sign
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Rise of Incarnates
  • Rising Thunder

Best Sports/Racing Game

  • FIFA 16
  • Forza Motorsport 6
  • NBA 2K16
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
  • Rocket League

Best Multiplayer

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Rocket League
  • Splatoon

Best Indie Game

  • Axiom Verge (Tom Happ)
  • Her Story (Sam Barlow)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios/Microsoft Studios)
  • Rocket League (Psyonix)
  • Undertale (tobyfox)

Best Family Game

  • Disney Infinity 3.0
  • Lego Dimensions
  • Skylanders SuperChargers
  • Splatoon
  • Super Mario Maker

Best Mobile or Handheld Game

  • Downwell (Moppin/Devolver Digital)
  • Fallout Shelter (Bethesda)
  • Lara Croft Go (Square Enix)
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Capcom)
  • Pac-Man 256 (Hipster Whale/Bandai Namco)

Best Narrative

  • Her Story
  • Life is Strange
  • Tales From the Borderlands
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Until Dawn

Best Art Direction

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Bloodborne
  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Best Score or Soundtrack

  • Fallout 4 (Inon Zur)
  • Halo 5: Guardians (Kazuma Jinnouchi)
  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (Justin Burnett, Ludvig Forssell, Daniel James)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Gareth Coker)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Marcin Przybylowicz, Mikolai Stroinski)

Best Performance

  • Ashly Burch – Chloe Price (Life is Strange)
  • Doug Cockle – Geralt (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
  • Mark Hamill – The Joker (Batman: Arkham Knight)
  • Camilla Luddington – Lara Croft (Rise of the Tomb Raider)
  • Viva Seifert (Her Story)

Games for Change

  • Cibele (Nina Freeman)
  • Her Story (Sam Barlow)
  • Life is Strange (Dontnod Entertainment)
  • Sunset (Tale of Tales)
  • Undertale (tobyfox)

Industry Icon Award – Westwood Studios co-founders Brett Sperry and Louis Castle

Fan Voting

Most Anticipated Game

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Quantum Break
  • The Last Guardian
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Best Fan Creation

  • GTA 5 – Targets (Hoodoo Operator)
  • Real GTA (Corridor Digital)
  • Portal Stories: Mel (Prism Studios)
  • Super Mario Maker e-Reader Levels (Baddboy78/theycallmeshaky)
  • Twitch Plays Dark Souls (Twitch Community)

Trending Gamer

  • Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles
  • Greg Miller
  • Markiplier
  • PewDiePie
  • Total Biscuit

eSports

Game of the Year

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Dota 2
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
  • League of Legends

Player of the Year

  • Peter “ppd” Dager (Dota 2 – Evil Geniuses)
  • Syed Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan (Dota 2 – Evil Geniuses)
  • Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer (CS:GO – Fnatic)
  • Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok (League of Legends – SK Telecom T1)
  • Kenny “KennyS” Schrub (CS:GO – Team EnVyUs)

Team of the Year

  • Evil Geniuses
  • Fnatic
  • Optic Gaming
  • SK Telecom T1
  • Team SoloMid

That concludes my brief thoughts/coverage of the Game Awards 2015! Again, I was really pleased with the show and felt a lot of great-looking games were announced and a lot of great games ended up winning awards. Of course, this being a judgmental website this article wouldn’t be complete without a judgment, so my judgement for The Game Awards 2015 show is…

CONDONE

Halo Wars 2 Announced, Coming to Xbox One And PC Next Year

Well, here’s announcement that nobody was expecting. At the end of Microsoft’s Gamescom press conference they revealed that Halo Wars 2 is in the works. The game will be coming to both Xbox One and PC in the Fall of 2016.

Halo Wars 2

While no actual gameplay footage was revealed, a pretty cool cinematic trailer was shown to get the ball rolling. There’s a dude being dragged away while shooting at a bad guy, which is pretty much all there is to it. Hopefully more information will be revealed soon so maybe some people can get excited about it.

Check out the Halo Wars 2 announce teaser directly below.