If nothing else, Tom Clancy's EndWar proves that Ubisoft Shanghai's voice command solution to that perennial console RTS control conundrum works. The tech behind the system, which sees you dish out commands using your voice rather than your thumbs, is robust enough to understand what you're saying about 95 per cent of the time. That's good enough to make EndWar the most intuitive console RTS out there.
The only problem is that the meat of the gameplay is more bare bones than juicy steak. The near future setting, which sees the Enforcer Corps (Europe), the United States Joint Strike Force (US) and the Spetsnaz Guard Brigade (Russia) all going at it in World War III, is neat enough and certainly in keeping with classic Clancy, but the limitations prevent it from being an essential purchase. There's no story to speak of, there are only four game types (conquest - control over half the Uplinks, assault - wipe out every enemy unit, raid - destroy or defend a key building for ten minutes and siege - capture or defend an Uplink in an enemy city) and the three races play so similarly that the game relies almost exclusively on the quality of its core gameplay, which, while fun, isn't complex enough to satisfy those looking for a console RTS experience to rival the best on PC.
Much like those walkie talkies you used to play with as a child on Christmas day, by holding down the right trigger (on the Xbox 360, the version tested) you're able to open up communications with any of your forces on the battlefield. From there you're able to control movement, attacking, retreating and the securing of Uplinks, crucial to the success of any EndWar match. So, by saying something like: 'Unit One move to bravo', you'll send unit one trotting off towards Uplink bravo. Simple.
Things obviously get more complicated than that. While units will automatically attack a hostile when they spot one, you can order any number of your units to attack a hostile ('unit two attack hostile one'), and spread your forces around so you're attacking multiple hostiles at the same time ('unit three plus four attack hostile five'). From there's it's very much a case of micro management so that you're exploiting the game's simple rock, paper, scissors mechanic.
At its simplest, tanks beat transports, transports beat gunships and gunships beat tanks. Keeping this in mind should enable you to progress well into the single-player campaign, an offline version of EndWar's excellent Theatre of War game mode. But at higher difficulties and online against human players, factoring in riflemen, engineers, artillery and command vehicles makes sound strategy more essential, and the game more fun.
Although the game was billed as being playable entirely with your voice, doing so is actually slower in some cases than using the traditional controls. For example, you could say 'Unit 3 camera' to zip across the map and see things from that unit's point of view, but it can be easier and quicker to use left or right on the d-pad to cycle to unit three and press X. And when you have a hostile fixed squarely in your targeting reticule, it's often much quicker to simply press A to make that unit attack it than say 'Unit three attack hostile two'. In reality, combining voice communication with controller inputs is the most efficient way of getting things done, which provides a less idealistic experience than the game promised during its development, but, essentially, works a treat.