Jul 1, 2011

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Anomaly: Warzone Earth Review

Anomaly: Warzone Earth Review

I admit it, tower defense games are always appealing to me. Whether it’s PixelJunk Monsters, Plants vs Zombies or the many indie games I’ve downloaded on my phone, the strategy needed in tower defense games is addicting. Anomaly: Warzone Earth, developed by 11 Bit Studios, takes everything that makes tower defense games so great and turns it around on you. Instead of building towers to fight off enemies, you are the one on the ground and the towers are shooting at you. This simple twist on the gameplay makes Anomaly a truly unique strategy game and a game every tower defense fan cannot miss out on.

Set in the near future, an alien spaceship crashed down in several major cities around the world. You play as a commander of the 14th platoon, or as I like to call them, “the fightin’ 14th.” Armed with a combat suit, you are tasked with bringing your men into battle to investigate the crash sites in Baghdad and Tokyo. Both cities have been ravaged by a mysterious alien energy dome and your team is sent into the heart of it to find out how to take it out.

The story is halfway decent for a tower defense game, but the intense action is where the game really shines. As I mentioned earlier, Anomaly is the opposite of what we have come to expect from tower defense games. You control a convoy of armored vehicles from a top-down angle and must guide the convoy trough each level. One of the more interesting aspects of the game is that you have to set routes for your convoy. Before and during the level you can bring up a map simply by scrolling back on the mouse wheel, and from there you can direct where you want your troops to go. This simple mechanic adds so much to the strategy of the game because there are many different routes to go and you’ll always be changing them throughout the level, especially in later levels of the campaign. Plus, you can pretty much always find the path of least resistance for those who would rather avoid enemies.

While you control the commander on the ground, your troops will do all the fighting. Your only job is to set the path of the troops and use your combat suit to aid them in battle. The combat suit allows the commander to use various powers such as repairing damaged vehicles, deploying a decoy beacon, or calling in air strikes. This can all be done in real time, but you have to move the commander to the spot where you want the power deployed. This means that you always have to stay by your troops. What makes this aspect so interesting is having to pick up the powers that are air dropped in.

You’ll get air drops that will resupply you with more powers, but you have to move your commander over them to collect it. You will also occasionally get air drops after killing enemies, so while you are in the middle of battle, you might be moving back and forth between the route your troops are moving on and random areas around the map where powers are located. This creates very intense combat scenarios because not only do you need to keep an eye out on your troops, but you also have to make sure you have enough powers to help them.

Anomaly features a good amount of unique vehicles that each have their own strengths and weaknesses. There’s the APC that has a lot of armor but lacks offense, there’s the missile launchers that bring the offense but lack armor, a shield that protects nearby vehicles, and a few tanks. As you progress through the game you will unlock more vehicles and they can be upgraded by money earned from killing enemies and by picking up money depots scattered around the map.