Of the following facts, I'm not sure what's more surprising: Tom Clancy's EndWar, the decidedly odd, voice-controlled console real-time strategy game, is making a return. It's coming back as a free-to-play tower defense game. And what do you know, it's pretty fun.
Last week at Ubisoft's Digital Day press expo, I was surprised to see a row of PCs with a massive EndWar logo hanging above them. Did this mean that the game was back as a PC RTS, which always did seem like a more natural fit?
Nope. Instead of going full-RTS, EndWar Online is actually a quick-moving tower defense game focusing on player vs. player online battles. I played a round and found the game to be pretty enjoyable.
The trailer above gives a sense of things—the whole game plays through flash in your browser, and while it doesn't look as hot as a modern PC game, it doesn't look too shabby, either. Strategy involves a sort of rock-paper-scissors setup: Tanks beat infantry, helicopters beat tanks, anti-air beats helicopters, and so on. The key to winning is deploying the right troops to the right lanes, and getting them clear to attack your enemy's base. As you level up, you'll be able to buy new and better units, and presumably the game's free-to-play setup allows for microstansactions, too.
EndWar Online will be in beta soon, though the developers weren't saying when exactly; I'd look for beta signups soon if you're interested in checking it out.
Obviously, free-to-play can ruin any game, and if this EndWar Online turns out to be pay-to-win I'd imagine its appeal will be short-lived. It also has a name that, while not quite as dumb as Warface, is still pretty dumb. That said, I enjoyed what I played. It was a fast-paced, down and dirty versus tower-defense game that looks like it rewards quick thinking and forethought. Best of all: No voice-controls required.