Empire Interactive can be thanked for this straight-forward no-frills light-gun game. Endgame is the story of one Jade Cornell and her quest to uncover the evil plans of the EuroDream Corporation who are scheming to unleash their latest virtual reality program called VirtualWorldTomorrow in an attempt to brain-wash and control the population at large. You’ll traverse through three unique European areas from the London Underground to the Swiss Alps in order to rescue your friend and collect the three Octavian AI devices which are programmed to destroy EuroDream’s VirtualWorldTomorrow program.
Light-gun gamers who are familiar with previous shooter games like Time Crisis should feel right at home with Endgame, it uses the same duck-for-cover-and-reload system along with hordes of generic baddies who repetitiously shoot at you while your exposed. The game feels like it’s on rails and you’ll move around from location to location at the game’s discretion, occasionally meeting up with a boss enemy who can take more than a few shots to the dome before keeling over. However, there are some worthy additions to Endgame that help to somewhat set it apart from other gun-games, like almost fully destructible environments and a game-within-a-game training mode that includes 10 different challenges, each with three variations of difficulty.
The enemies you’ll come across in the game feel more like props than they do actual threatening bad-guys. They’ll stand around for a few seconds while randomly shooting in every direction but yours, if you don’t manage to take’em out within a few seconds they will squeeze off a accurate shot or two. There is the sporadic sharp-shooter who will show up that actually goes through the trouble of shooting at you and your first instinct when you see one of these guys will be to take him out without delay. But if you fail to take these guys down it is possible to simply dodge their shots thanks to the immanent-damage system that Endgame utilizes which brings up a red circle around a bullet that is on a one way course with your person. Despite the seaming mental retardation on the part of the bad-guys you’ll still need to stay sharp since each area will be timed and if time runs out its game over. There are a plethora of cut-scenes interspersed throughout the action that help to push the story forward while giving your wrists a much-needed rest.
Upon completing the main mode of the game (which should take you all of 2 hours), a secondary mode called Mighty Joe Jupiter will become available. The gameplay mechanics and overall feel of this mode is nearly identical to the main mode only this time you’ll play as Mighty Joe through a sci-fi cartoony setting and rid the world of nefarious aliens. Other than the Mighty Joe jaunt you can also unlock some new weapons like a shotgun, machine gun, and an unlimited-ammo gun. Other modes of the game include Arcade mode where it’s all about racking up the highest score, Double Gun mode where you can double-fist it (assuming you have two GunCon compatable guns), and Mirror mode in which you’re given the option to play through the game with the atmosphere-layout reversed. While this does add somewhat to the lifespan of the game it does little to innovate beyond the typical duck-and-cover/shoot mentality of the genre.
The visuals look washed out and generic despite the fact that it uses the much-ballyhooed RenderWare engine developed by Criterion. There are some cool graphical touches like motion blurs and lighting techniques though, which help to give the game a unique feel. But when compared with the super-sharp and richly-detailed graphics of some other light-gun games currently on the market Endgame just doesn’t have much to offer. Character animations are more than adequate, but since the game uses the same rendering process as Grand Theft Auto III and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 would you expect any less?
Music, while for the most part fitting, is nothing to write home about. Techno-ey electronica is what the aural rhythms of this game are primarily composed of. Although, it should be mentioned that Endgame makes use of 5.1 positional surround sound, and while it doesn’t do much in the way of enhancing gameplay it is a cool novelty nonetheless. Following the age-old tradition of integrating horrible voice-acting into the genre Endgame features campy over-the-top voice work that just barely manages to stay away from being excessively irritating.
For all intents and purposes, Endgame is a Time Crisis clone. Luckily, it does a good enough job of mimicking Time Crisis that it manages to talk itself down from complete disaster. Even so, the TC-esque style of gameplay is more than beginning to wear thin and I’m not sure mechanics this old should warrant a purchase. There are a great deal of cool unlockables which help to extend the enjoyment of the game though and for some that may be enough to get excited about. Action is solid and for a straight-forward shoot-em-up Endgame does a respectable job of delivering a hefty amount of action, but the lack of innovation and on-rails progression ultimately relegates this title to mediocrity. Definitely rent before laying down your hard-earned pay for this one.