Published on April 6th, 2012 | by Louis Garcia, Contributor
Review: Anomaly Warzone Earth
Developer: 11 bit studios
Release Date: April 6, 2012
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)
What people seem to like about Anomaly Warzone Earth is the unique approach it takes with the tower defense genre. I’m not even sure I’d label it as such, seeing as how different it actually is.
Instead of building towers to set into one place, players buy machines such as APC tanks, mech like Crawlers, or shields, and more that are always moving toward a player-routed destination. A tactical view, or 2D grid, is used to direct troops to specific routes to reach objectives, avoid debris, or avoid enemies.
Then enemy to avoid is an unknown threat from big bad outer space that has landed smack-dab in the middle of Baghdad and Tokyo. As part of 14th Platoon you’ll traverse through a number of stages to figure out just what’s going on underneath giant, mysterious domes that have formed where the aliens have landed.
To add to the on-rails approach of combat vehicles getting from point A to point B is the ability for the player to control a unit wearing a combat suit. This suit allows players to heal units, lay down smoke, create decoys, or set off area-clearing bombs in real-time to turn the tides of war. The action is already dynamic for what may seem like a slow-moving approach to tower defense, but adding the suit’s powers makes things more hectic as you lay them down or collect power-ups on the map.
Players can also bring up a troop menu when you want to upgrade or buy more war machines, with different types packing more firepower or more armor. The key to using these war machines is positioning them in a smart order on the front line (they line up in a row as they follow each other), as you don’t want your lightly-armored attackers on the front, or, say, a shield generating unit taking the brunt of the enemy fire.
It may not sound like there’s a whole lot to do in the game, but it’s really a lot of fun. Trying to maneuver around certain enemies while taking a safe route to your objective becomes challenging, and the tides of battle can change on a whim. It will keep you from getting lazy, and the extra control over units keeps the game from becoming just another tower defense title-and everyone knows that genre has been played out with me-too titles.
What’s also a bit unique about the game is how the controls were adapted to work so well on a console. I learned them quickly, and never felt as though they impeded my progress.
The only pitfall is the story; it doesn’t feature anything too out of the ordinary when it comes to alien invasions. Overall the presentation isn’t anything special. Soldiers sound kind of silly when they yell things out, and the music is forgettable. Even the visuals won’t stick with you for too long, but that’s OK; it’s still a fun game underneath it all.
The Xbox 360 adds six exclusive “Tactical Trials.” These trials take players to a virtual reality playing field-a nice change of pace from all the war-torn rubble in the campaign-to finish different goals. They’re nothing special, but they are a nice bonus if you like the gameplay and want more of it. There are also some extra levels akin to survival mode to play.
Anomaly is a different kind of strategy experience. The overall presentation may be a bit lacking, but the intense action provided from battling invading aliens more than makes up for it. If you’ve played it already I can’t see why you’d need another version, but with the extra content I recommend the console iteration.
[xrr label=”Rating: 8/10″ rating=8/10]
+ Intense, unique gameplay
– Story and presentation leave much to be desired