May 11th, 2013 | By Tom Christiansen
Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a game that has sat in my Steam library for as long as I can remember. I think I picked it up in some indie bundle from a few years ago, but I honestly cannot remember. The only thing I knew about it was that it involved the tower defense genre, and because of that, I had very little interest in the game. My issue with tower defense titles is that I find them dull. Being stuck in an area and forced to watch as units scurry down a predetermined pathway is just incredibly boring for me. I prefer making on-the-fly decisions, being rewarded with bright explosions, and namely not being anchored to one location. To my amazement, Anomaly 2 delivers all of that.
How Anomaly 2 works is that it inverts the tower defense mechanic, so that it is the player’s job to get their convoy through the tower-filled gauntlet, and to the objective at the end. There are multiple pathways through every level, and players get to customize their convoy along the way. The enemies, just like a typical tower defense game, have plenty of towers at their disposal, and it takes an apt player to know what unit to use against what sort of tower. Knowing what to use when isn’t difficult thanks to a handy tactical map that players can pull up whenever they like. It shows not only the enemy positions but also allows players to alter their convoy’s route on-the-move. You, are the TomTom.
From what I’ve gathered with my five-ish hours within Anomaly 2, the human race is on the rebound after getting their butts kicked by some sort of robotic alien species that the humans have cleverly taken to calling “The Machines”. The last bastions of humanity have banded together in convoys to keep on the move, always running from their robotic pursuers. Hope for humanity remains in the mystery of Project Shockwave, a weapon which has the potential to wipe out the alien aggressors. The initial levels of Anomaly 2 involve seeking out the remaining scientists responsible for Project Shockwave and looking after their well being, to ensure their research does not go to waste.
While the story isn’t anything special, it really just serves as an excuse to fill a post-apocalyptic Earth with really badass robots. These machines are Decepticon-caliber cool. Unfortunately, they do nothing but try and kill you through the entire game. Fear not, for you have some pretty neat tools in your arsenal as well.
Players control a little commando future-soldier who they can order around the map. The soldier is not limited to the roads, so he is able to run anywhere the player wants him to. However, the enemies will target the soldier if he strays too far from the convoy, so it is generally a good idea to stick close to your little armada. The soldier is armed with some enhancements that play out to be crucial as the game progresses and the gauntlet becomes tougher to get through. One ability, for example, drops an area-based healing effect, that causes friendly units passing through to quickly regain their health. Another ability allows the soldier to drop an EMP bomb and disable enemy towers, knocking them offline until the convoy units engage them. While being a pretty straightforward mechanic, it really helps to keep the monotony of typical tower-defense games, at bay.
The convoy units themselves are not helpless, though. In fact, these units will do the majority of the work…as long as the player helps them stay alive. So far, every convoy unit has an alternative form. Take, “The Hound” for example: in its default form, it sports a big mini-gun that gradually powers up to full-speed, dealing massive amounts of continuous damage. This is great, if there is simply one enemy after another to take down. But, if there are two enemies across from one another, switching The Hound into its secondary form transforms the vehicle into a bipedal machine which sports a flamethrower on each arm, allowing it to roast two nearby enemies at once.
Some enemy towers are great at countering specific vehicle forms, so players have to literally stay ahead of the game by constantly checking the tactical map to know what is coming. Heading down a road unprepared will certainly get you killed.
Anomaly 2 is not your typical lazy tower defense game. It’s badass, action-packed, and you’ll only survive by the skin of your teeth. With four difficulty settings that can be switched at the start of every level, the game ensures that all types of players will be able to find a challenge within the game’s hostile, ice-covered, environments.
Anomaly 2 is set to be released May 15th, pre-ordering through the official website gets buyers some pretty neat bonuses.