Anomaly: Warzone Earth took the mobile gaming network by storm when released in 2011, flipping the ‘Tower Defence’ genre on its head and creating a ‘Tower Offence’ game. After huge success and an ‘Apple Design Award’ 11bit Studios had the genius idea of porting this game to the consoles (with a few improvements). The finished product is a well crafted, fun to play strategy game in which I actually didn’t mind dying as it made me rethink and improve my tactics.
You are the commander of 14th Platoon, leading your team into a destroyed Baghdad after an alien invasion has landed there. As commander you have no means of attack, but you can gather supplies and try to distract enemies for a short time. Whilst the story is nothing to boast about and the voice acting is repetitive and seems like something from a Guy Ritchie film, I found that this didn’t really take anything away from the gaming experience. In addition, the graphics aren’t the best in the business, but do paint a very pretty picture, especially the reds and blues of the enemy which really liven up the Baghdad and Tokyo landscapes. Also the explosions and broken buildings give you an idea of the sheer amount of damage being done.
11bit Studios have found a near perfect balance between action and strategy. What Anomaly Warzone Earth brings to the table is a twist on the modern Tower Defence game in which you are the attacker, forging your way through or around enemy turrets; finding and exploiting their weaknesses. This means quick strategic decisions which could result in a triumphant victory or a crushing defeat. Anomaly uses two maps to play the game; the field map and the strategic map. When using the field map the game moves on as usual, allowing you to use power ups and speed up play, but the strategic map stops play, giving you the chance to change route and buy/upgrade new squads.
Where Anomaly gets really interesting is the upgrading of troops and the use of your support items such as: Smoke Screen, Decoys or Health Packs. I remember the feeling of intense fear when picking up a smoke screen when what I desperately needed was health for my tanks. These random supply drops add a new level to the game where the player actually has to think about when and where to place certain power ups, for example smoke screen works on a large area covering up troops, but runs out very quickly, whereas a decoy will draw fire away but doesn’t have a large radius.
All of these problems were flying through my head as I was trying to get to the end zone where you are graded with medals on how efficient and deadly you were. With every kill you get money to purchase new troops from heavily armoured APCs to high damage mobile turrets.
A great deal of the games strategy depends on what you spend your money on in each situation. Once the 14 mission campaign has been completed, 11bit have added some extra game modes to vary the play. These are much more survival based and involve moving from objective to objective destroying the enemies. While this is enjoyable, it doesn’t really add anything to the overall experience of the game.
Unlike many ports to consoles, Anomaly feels comfortable and easy to play on the PlayStation 3, on the iOS everything was done with a quick tap of the fingers. It would seem more difficult on the PS3, but it is in fact highly accurate, using the analogue sticks to quickly change a route and having the front buttons to administer a power-up. The addition of local co-op works well as one person plays as strategist and the other as troops builder. As a team you can boost each others power ups and change the whole flow of the game. However it would be nice to have the option of online co-op if you have no-one local to play with.
A unique, pioneering idea, which will hopefully pave the way for more Tower Offence Games, 11bit Studios have almost hit the nail on the head with Anomaly Warzone Earth. Although there is an average story and forgettable dialogue, which may put some off of this port of Anomaly, but the fast paced enjoyable game-play is a real winner for me. There are a good diversity of missions, each asking you to do different things, really spicing up the experience, and the extra modes will keep you going for a short while. Also, the inclusion of multi-player co-op is great if you have friends round and just want something quick and enjoyable to play. If you want a relatively cheap strategy game with a decent amount of re-playability, I would say that Anomaly Warzone Earth is for you.