Anomaly: Warzone Earth coined the phrases reverse tower-defense and tower offense with a novel idea of running mobile units through the streets of cities littered with the entrenched structures of alien origins. 11 bit Studios continues to expand on those ideas with a new sequel. The appropriately titled Anomaly 2 is available now on PC. The word on the street is that there are no plans for it to be ported to consoles, so fans that found the title thanks to the XBLA and PSN release will have to hop on their PCs for the sequel action. Anomaly 2 will remind gamers a lot of Warzone Earth but a couple of key new features make the sequel stand out in the flooded tower defense/offense genre.
The story continues with the alien invasion from Warzone Earth. Humanity has traded places with the aliens and become the anomaly on a mostly alien machine controlled Earth. A large portion of the planet has become a frozen tundra leaving the pockets of humanity to form convoys to hunt for food and supplies. Players are put in the shoes of First Lieutenant Simon Lynx who fills the role held by the Commander in the first game leading the Yukon convoy. Their goal is one of survival and to take out as many alien sobs as they can while piecing together the plans for a lost super weapon that might help them reclaim Earth.
The core gameplay hasn’t changed much since the first game. Players run around as Lynx on foot across the battlefield. Lynx is able to direct the human convoy through the tumultuous paths surrounded by destructive aliens and their structures while also dropping items that affect combat such as heals for his units, decoys, and air strikes. The battles tend to get chaotic like the first game which still leaves the players with the issue of losing track of Lynx. It is hard to be precise with power ups when you can’t find where you are on the screen. Every unit in Anomaly 2 has very specific strengths but as a new feature it can be switched into different battle modes for varied utility. Overall the gameplay still works out and is fun despite the rare occurrences of frustration due to Lynx hiding amidst the carnage.
The missions in Anomaly 2 vary from rescue missions to obliteration of the enemy to the very survival of your units. There are only 14 missions in the single player campaign creating a rather short single player experience. Anomaly 2’s single player replay value is dependent on the 4 difficulty levels and a medal based system for rating skill, time of completion, and overall score. The settings for the missions are a whirlwind tour of key locales and monuments presenting great locations for post apocalyptic fun. It has been established in the genre ever since the Planet of the Apes movie, If you do something in New York post apocalyptic there has to be a ruined Statue of Liberty and Anomaly 2 does not disappoint.
The biggest feature Anomaly 2 brings to the table is the addition of multiplayer to the series. There are quite a few games out there that leave us groaning on why the developer and publisher felt the need to shoehorn in lackluster multiplayer but Anomaly 2 is not one of those games. The biggest worry is that the game will fail to develop a strong enough community to keep the multiplayer aspect active. If it doesn’t that would be a shame considering all of the support the title is receiving from 11 bit in terms of features like stat tracking, ranks, and matchmaking. The whole presentation of the multiplayer component is extremely polished.
The core gameplay lends itself well to an asymmetrical one versus one competitive play. Humans play as they do in the single player campaign but there is an added bit of resource gathering to build the convoy. The aliens play out like a standard tower defense game with the added need to strategize against a live human opponent. Due to the fact that the multiplayer doesn’t play similar to anything in recent memory, every match turns into a tense learning experience of what to do and what not to do as players learn how to play.
Anomaly 2 stays with the same gameplay that made the first title popular and enhances that with a must have multiplayer mode. It’s not quite like anything any of us have ever played and it is nice to get surprised by something like that in a day of cookie cutter clones. The single player is a bit on the short side but longevity of this title will come from the multiplayer as long as the community sticks with it. For the price, you can’t find a game with much more polish than Anomaly 2.