Anomaly Warzone Earth Review

very good
key review info
  • Game: Anomaly Warzone Earth
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: N/a
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Anomaly Warzone Earth review

Tower defense games are to the independent gaming scene what military first-person shooters are to the triple-AAA part of the industry, largely because lots of small developers are trying their hands on making titles in the genre in order to get their name out there.

While this has caused almost the whole genre to become rather stale, there are developers that are trying to spice things up, with 11 Bit Studios and its new Anomaly Warzone Earth title being the perfect example.

Instead of letting you be on the defense side and allow you to place different sorts of towers onto a level, you are now leading the invading forces, choosing what sort of units you want in battle and how to take down the challenging enemy towers.

This reversal of the genre sounds very promising and, if executed properly, could take it into a whole new direction. So, is Anomaly Warzone Earth an ice-breaker or should it be exterminated before it reaches the front line? Let's find out.
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Plan your route ...
... and go on the attack
Genre Reversal

When you look at the matter of simply swapping sides in the tower defense genre from a certain distance, the move seems quite obvious and pretty simple in theory. In practice, however, things get quite complicated, and it's only then that you realize just what a challenge the developer had when it tried to turn the relatively simple tower defense mechanics on their head.

Regular games just require a fair amount of strategy skills at the beginning of their levels, when you need to make sure that you are well defended against enemy troops by creating the best sort of tower lineup. With a bit of luck and perhaps some trial and error attempts, things usually work out and you proceed to the next round without any serious problems.

Anomaly also demands quite a bit of strategic thinking, but it combines it with split second reactions, as you're no longer just an all-mighty commander looking down on his towers, but you are present down there, right where the action is, not only to guide your troops, but also to take care of them.

How do you do that? Through your trusty combat suit, a futuristic piece of technology which allows you access to multiple strategic options. You can not only deploy special repair areas to fix up your troops, but also smoke screens, which confuse the enemy towers, decoys, which generate a fake target for them to fire at, or call in airstrikes, in order to finish off hard to destroy towers.

By combining the two elements, Anomaly manages to keep you on your toes and doesn't see its action slow down. If it does seem a bit boring, especially while watching your troops go through areas that are deserted, you can always hit the Shift key and see their movements sped up, a great feature that should be implemented by lots of other developers.




Unit Choices and Enemy Variety

As you can imagine, even if Anomaly is very well executed, it would be all in vain if you didn't have multiple options and choices regarding your units or didn't meet any particularly challenging opponents. Thankfully, you get plenty of both.

Slowly but surely, throughout the game's single-player campaign, which lasts for a round 4 to 5 hours, depending on your skill level, Anomaly supplies you with an increasing number of different units, from fast, yet vulnerable rocket-launching mechanical walkers, to better armored yet less powerful APCs, while throwing in units like shield tanks, which need to be placed between units to supply them with an extra layer of protection.

This is where you'll also be spending some time debating over your choices, as your units can only move in a row, so you need to decide over putting powerful, yet vulnerable units up front, or save them for your rear and put better armored vehicles at the front of your attack.

While allowing you access to different units, the game also ups the challenge by introducing newer and more dangerous towers, which require different types of strategies in order to be defeated. From the simple ones you meet in the first few missions to giant ones that you need to attack from special angles or use different powers, Anomaly isn't shy about putting up a fight.

Even on the normal difficulty setting, you'll be forced to restart checkpoints quite often, especially during the last missions, unless you don't take advantage of all the powers at your disposal and aren't ready to move extremely fast through the battlefield.

Anomaly also shines in terms of graphics, as everything from your units to enemy towers or the ravaged cities where the action takes place is beautifully rendered. The main protagonists, British soldiers and scientists, are also a breath of fresh air as opposed to standard American ones, but the big number of references to English life can wear on your nerves, especially after your fifth checkpoint restart, for example.
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Explore the beautiful levels ...
... and leave nothing in your wake
Conclusion

Anomaly Warzone Earth is a great game and proof that variety can still be found in a genre as stale as the tower defense one. It offers quite a serious challenge, keeps you on your toes and demands not just strategic thinking but also quick reactions on the fly.

If you hunger for something small that will keep you entertained through its single-player campaign as well as through some relatively entertaining skirmish modes, then you won't make a mistake with Anomaly Warzone Earth.

The game is currently available for $10 on digital distribution services like Steam, GamersGate or the Mac App Store, while a demo for it can be downloaded right now from Softpedia.

Check out some more gameplay screenshots showing Anomaly's mechanics at work:
story 7
gameplay 9
concept 10
graphics 9
audio 8
multiplayer 0
final rating 8.5
Editor's review
very good
 

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