That you find yourself wishing that Ubisoft had made EndWar a "proper" PC RTS shows that it's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but a disappointing one. There are flashes of what might have been, glimpses of satisfaction enjoyed as you begin to master the combat chain, but the game's bogged down by its own design and the odd frustration. Getting infantry to take the right side of cover is hellishly fiddly, and there will be occasions where helicopters will stand still and refuse to shoot at a nearby hostile because the line of sight is broken when it could easily move a bit to see it again. And because there are only seven units in the whole game, and all three races have access to them all, there's little in the way of variety. Yes you can upgrade your units by spending cash in the barracks, giving them a degree of individuality, and you can level them up by keeping them alive across multiple battles (units can be airlifted to safety when they're incapacitated, preventing them from being killed outright), but for all intent and purpose rushing infantry to uplinks, making sure you've got helicopters trained on enemy tanks and tanks trained on enemy transports will be the overriding concern of all players, no matter what faction you choose to play as.
EndWar is at its best online. Here, the MMO-style Theatre of War allows players to contribute to a persistent WW3, which ebbs and flows depending on your success and that of others around the world. Every victory is factored into the day's fighting, opening up new maps and new offensives as fronts move back and forth. You can play alone one on one, or alongside another player in two versus two battles, which works well. The feeling you get from contributing to something bigger than the game itself is satisfying indeed, and is EndWar's greatest achievement.
On console EndWar's graphics were occasionally impressive, but on PC, in comparison to things like Dawn of War II and Empire: Total War, they come across as bland. The units are well designed and have great animations, but there's little to differentiate the same units across the three factions. There's the odd nice touch, like the shaky cam that triggers when your infantry storm into a building, but the forgettable explosions and building destruction make proceedings feel a little dated. The sound, however, is brilliant, with plenty of dialogue making itself heard during battle - great for immersing you in the action and providing audio clues to the player.
There's a degree of geek-fuelled fun to be had with EndWar, but we can't help but feel as if it's been thrown into the deep end of the RTS pool with only poor quality gear and outdated weaponry to fend off the sharks with. We're not saying every PC gamer out there plays real-time strategy games, and there's truth to the argument that EndWar makes for a solid entry level PC RTS, but, ultimately, most PC gamers will find the experience too dumbed down to warrant investigation. On console EndWar is good. On PC it's in over its head.