Anomaly: Warzone Earth review

Anomaly: Warzone Earth takes the concept of tower defense games and flips it on its head. Instead of being tasked with setting up a defense against insurmountable odds, Anomaly forces you to run the gauntlet through countless turrets, laser cannons, space monsters, etc. Turns out, this change of pace is exactly what the tower defense genre needed.

An alien spacecraft of some sort or another has crash-landed in Baghdad and it’s your platoon’s job to investigate. Lo and behold, whatever was inside that thing isn’t all that friendly and has set up a defensive perimeter of death lasers around the crash zone. It’s a very basic “us vs them” story where aliens are the bad guys and human beings rock harder than Metallica; however, the game makes use of some passable voice acting along with a few twists and turns to keep the player motivated. We’re not saying it’s going to be contender for best narrative of 2011 (the super-jock marine ethos gets pretty taxing after a while), but it’s surprisingly decent.

Gameplay in the story campaign boils down to you protecting a convoy of military armor as they make their way through the alien defenses. Taking the role of a Special Forces Commander, it’s your duty to scout around for supplies and deploy powerups to keep the convoy alive. The abilities are varied, ranging from repairing damage done to your vehicles to setting up decoys that draw away enemy fire to give your group some breathing room.

You also get to choose the vehicle makeup of this convoy – defensive APCs that tank damage, offensive crawlers that launch rockets but can’t take too much damage, etc. – and you can use the money gained from destroying enemy sentries to upgrade your vehicles’ effectiveness. Likewise, while you don’t get to directly control the movement or speed of your caravan, you can open up a tactical map of the level featuring a top-down view and plan out a route to flank or bypass enemy turrets.

Unfortunately, Anomaly falls pretty short in terms of game modes. Once you’ve had your fill with the story mode, you can move over to Anomaly’s survival challenges. There’s really nothing here that’s all that surprising. The gameplay is the same as the story mode only you now face off against increasingly difficult defenses with a single goal: don’t die.

Graphically, Anomaly is (surprisingly) a visually engaging experience. One would think that a game taking place in war torn Baghdad would be a boring brown mess, but Anomaly makes use of a bright color palette that just makes the screen pop. Likewise, the aliens are surprisingly detailed and feature an interesting design.

We weren’t the biggest fans of the tower defense genre, so this game came as a pleasant surprise. Complemented with a solid plot and gameplay that finds a steady medium between strategy and action, Anomaly is a clever game that is sure to draw in tower defense fans. It’s a very interesting twist and breathes new life into what was quickly becoming a tired genre.

Apr 14, 2011

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