[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”11 bit studios” publishers=”Microsoft Game Studios” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”April 6th, 2012″]
So far in the past year, there has been clever twist after clever twist on the tower defense genre released on Xbox Live Arcade. We saw third person shooters mixed in. We saw hack and slash added. We saw real-time strategy altering the formula. Anomaly: Warzone Earth, developed by 11 bit Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios, throws yet another twist on the genre with what should be dubbed the “Reverse Tower Defense” game. Originally released on PC, Anomaly has also been ported over to Mac, iOS, and Android. With 11 bit Studios putting the player in control of the non-tower side, is the grass truly greener on the other side or have they forced us to step in a pile of manure to find out?
In Anomaly, Aliens crash-land on Earth and erect a force fieldish dome a.k.a the anomaly in Baghdad and Tokyo. You must lead a convoy to investigate and defend the planet. Unfortunately, that convoy must be routed around and through alien towers of mass destruction. You play a commander that runs around on foot picking up power-ups, using power-ups, and altering the route of the convoy. While the plot might not seem like much in writing, it is executed rather well in the game and is enjoyable as a storyline compared to most games where the plot only exists to give the player a reason to slaughter. Outside of the opening movie, the story is told through the banter and dialogue of the military and the action on the screen.
As commander, the player buys what units appear in the convoy and their upgrades with cash money gathered from destroying towers, completing objectives, and gathering fictitious material called carusaurum. The player also runs around the map, viewed top down and almost isometric, gathering power-ups and placing them in strategic positions to protect his convoy. These power-ups range from heals, smoke screens, decoys, and air strikes. Since the power-ups can be stacked on top of each other, placing combinations of them becomes yet another strategy to master in Anomaly. With the way that the camera sticks with the commander, he is basically a cursor with a health bar. But don’t worry if the commander dies, he is only out of commission for about three seconds. The last thing that the commander does is change the convoy’s route by going to a map screen and cycling through directions at each intersection on the map. It might not sound like you are doing much as the commander but once the action starts it can get hectic to keep your convoy alive.
The main campaign of the game contains fourteen levels, but the game does not end there. Throughout the campaign, extra modes are unlocked. This includes multiple wave missions and tactical exercises. The maps tend to be somewhat large which causes a pacing issue between sections that have towers and don’t. While you can speed up the gameplay by holding a button, this can lead to devastation if not paying attention because you will speedily send your convoy to their death. Achievements come easy as the tasks are things you will do to survive while the rest are for completing modes. While the game transitioned extremely well from PC to Xbox, there are still signs that it was a port. The biggest sign is a large amount of screens have what looks to be a back button that can’t be interacted with. It is a small nitpicky thing and thankfully doesn’t interfere in the enjoyability of the game in any fashion.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth is one of those games that you have to play through at least once if only to just appreciate the creative gameplay elements and design. Anomaly takes tried and true gameplay and throws twists on it with the best of them. The gameplay along with the engaging plot will make this title hard to put down.