A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a war game set in a futuristic universe in which you can use weapons of mass destruction during a fictitious WWIII. While this game has garnered six different warnings from the ESRB over its content, including violence and blood, alcohol and tobacco reference, language and suggestive themes, this is a "Teen"-rated game rather than a "Mature"-rated one. So while there is violence shown, including blood, much of the action is seen from an angled top-down view so it's less graphic than you might think (but you can zoom in closely, if desired). You can instruct your troops to shoot at rival soldiers, fire missiles at tanks, or call a nuke strike on a major city. There is some cussing and some characters are shown smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
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What's it about?
If you think tensions are tight in the Middle East today, you're not going to want to hang around the region in 2016, when a nuclear exchange kills 20 million people and leaves the rest of the world to fight over what's left of Earth's limited oil supply. Such is the grim preface to Ubisoft's TOM CLANCY'S ENDWAR, a gripping real-time strategy game based on the first new Clancy fiction since the 2002's celebrated Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. Four years after the 2016 Middle Eastern nuclear disaster, international tensions are at a breaking point over the depletion of resources. When the United States decides to construct the Freedom Star, a controversial orbital military platform, it upsets the already fragile balance of world power: the European Federation withdraws from NATO in protest, while Russia, now the No. 1 supplier of oil and natural gas, builds up its military force in preparation for a showdown. World War III is inevitable.
EndWar is a high-powered strategy game designed exclusively for next-generation consoles and the PC. Choose your side – the United States Joint Strike Force, European Enforcer Corp, or Russian Spetsnaz Guard Brigades -- and grow your nation into the most powerful on the planet. Because if you don't, there won't be much left of it by the time the dust settles. After you choose a nation, you'll select a type of battalion, be it airborne, mechanized, armored, signals, or assault. For example, airborne features superior gunship and riflemen ranks, armored offers tank advantages, while assault is a more balanced attack force. Finally you pick a task force bonus for your faction -- such as kinetic damage, rocket barrage, incendiary warheads, or electromagnetic pulses -- offering nearly 100 upgrades you can purchase with earned credits. You can also customize the look of your military, such as selecting type of camouflage.
Is it any good?
In order to win the war you'll need to strike powerful nations where it hurts the most – including metropolises such as Paris, Moscow, New York City, or Washington D.C. Imagine seeing the Eiffel Tower erupt in flames, infiltrating the White House, or bombing the Shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Depending on the solo campaign or multiplayer modes you choose, you'll be visiting -- or defending -- these key locations throughout the globe. Ordering your army about these large maps is a breeze, thanks to the slick voice command system. Simply hold down the right trigger on the controller and bark your orders into the Xbox 360 or PS3 headset. For example, to roll your tanks to the foxtrot capture point, you'd say, "unit one, move to foxtrot" or if you see your forces are grouped around a target of a massive WMD strike, you'd say "calling all units, retreat!" You get the idea.
Along with the lengthy single-player campaign, players will be able to take the war online via many multiplayer modes. In fact, hundreds of gamers can partake in persistent battles that can last for months. Or, if you prefer, engage in shorter skirmishes with smaller groups. We especially liked the four-versus-four battles, where you have to coordinate with other battalions to take out famous landmarks and capture key cities. Naturally, all the voice commands work in an online environment, too. The game's A.I. is pretty darn smart, but nothing beats playing with and against real human opponents. EndWar is a deep, intense and explosive strategy game worth picking up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this game is a fusion between a novel and video games. Does it work? Is it a better scenario when video games are based on popular fiction – such as the Tom Clancy series – as opposed to writing novels based on popular video game franchises, like Halo? Could it enhance your experience with a fictitious interactive world you're familiar with the literary source on which it was based? Or could a game ruin your passion for a great book?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.