- Format: PC, XBLA, PSN (version reviewed), Mac, iOS, Android
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
- Developer: 11 Bit Studios
- Players: 1-2 (local co-op)
- Site: www.11bitstudios.com/games/7/anomaly-warzone-earth
The popular tower defence genre is becoming oversaturated with clones, from the sublime Plants vs. Zombies and Pixel Junk Monsters to countless games on the iOS platforms. Anomaly Warzone Earth turns the genre on its head by being an offensive game rather than the overused defensive play style, and this change to the format is very welcome indeed.
The game puts you in charge of a convoy of armoured vehicles (14th Platoon) sent to investigate strange anomalies that have occurred in the cities of Baghdad and Tokyo, where huge domes of energy are engulfing the streets and aggressive aliens are guarding sections of a massive spacecraft that has crash landed on earth. It’s up to your unit to defeat the alien invaders by carefully choosing your convoy from the units available. The game offers three levels of difficulty: Casual, Advanced and Hardcore. The harder difficulty levels up the ante and can be quite a challenge.
The graphics are well-realised with the cities of Baghdad and Tokyo looking suitably war-torn, and there is quite a foreboding atmosphere, with buildings in flames and an eerie smog lingering around the deserted streets. The map is viewed from above and scrolls as you move around. When things really start to kick off there are some pretty impressive explosions on show, and with colourful missiles and flames darting around the screen it is almost like a lit a match in a fireworks factory. We found it a bit off-putting that you could walk over the top of a palm tree or car without having to jump, but generally speaking the game does look the part. The story however leaves a lot to be desired, with a cut-and-paste alien invasion tale that has about as much depth as the cringe-worthy movie Independence Day.
You start the game with a limited budget to purchase your units. Once you have your team in place, you need to plot your route on the map, picking up nodes that give you cash to buy new units (or upgrade them) and taking down any enemy fighters in your path. Some levels have time limits, so the route you take is crucial to your success or failure. You control a foot soldier Commander who is able to pick up power-ups that are dropped from friendly fighter jets and look ahead to see what the enemy has planned for your unit later in the level.
You can also use your character to draw enemy fire away from your convoy, by using decoy vehicles and smoke screens, so that your convoy can get close enough to deal the enemy a critical blow. Laying down repair nodes in the path of your convoy is another option, which helps keep damage limitation at a minimum. Later in the game you are given a powerful bomb which levels anything in it’s vicinity. The alien menace can put obstacles in your path, which means you have to plan a detour around it, and when things get too hot to handle, you sometimes need to guide your units to an enemy free zone on the map until they recharge their shields or you roll in some reinforcements.
Later levels introduce more powerful enemies that can drain your shields, turn your own squad against you, or respawn defeated enemies. Thankfully the game also introduces new units that you can use to counter the increasing alien threat. Missile launchers, a tank that packs a flame thrower and more are all available to add to your ranks, and each of these units can be upgraded to increase the vehicle’s attack or armour. As the game reaches it’s climax, there are some pretty intense moments that require quick thinking as you set decoys, make sure your units are well-protected, and plot your way through masses of enemy units.
The game controls well considering it was originally designed for the PC and mobile platforms, and you never feel that you are out of control, even when things really start to test you towards the end of the game. Once you have completed the main 14-mission campaign, the game unlocks a couple of modes to keep you playing, which are available locally with a friend. These modes– Tokyo Raid and Baghdad Mayhem– are basically a test to see how long you can survive by navigating your way through the city streets, and taking down alien controlled areas. While welcome, they’re quite shallow and it won’t be long before you revert back to the campaign.
If you enjoy tower defence or strategy games, we can’t recommend this game enough. It’s not over complicated, and the game is accessible for new players, who are gradually introduced to the nuances of the gameplay. It also doesn’t overstay it’s welcome with around 8 hours of gameplay, and each level introduces enough new elements to prevent the game getting repetitive. The tower defence genre may be becoming a bit stale, but the shift in focus from defensive to offensive in Anomaly Warzone Earth is a master stroke, and the game feels a lot fresher and more satisfying as a result.