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Anomaly Warzone Earth (PS3) Review

Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a combination reverse tower defense and  strategy game centered around attacking an alien-infiltrated city to regain control. The game features 3 single player modes (2 that need to be unlocked) and a multiplayer co-op mode. You play as a squad leader trying to direct your squad to victory against the aliens by completing certain mission objectives.

As the lead unit, you have 3 responsibilities. You need to select the units, the upgrades and the order the units progress through the map. You can change these attributes as you make your way through the map, which is helpful in situations where you have units low on life –  you can move them further back in the lineup to conserve their health. Since you can only move yourself, another responsibility you have is to select the path that your squad moves in. This is a big portion of the strategic element of the game, as paths can affect the amount of time it takes to get to certain objective points and to avoid certain towers – or even to get a better angle of attack on the towers. The last responsibility you have is to initiate one of the 4 abilities you have to help the units as they make it through the map. These abilities are placed with circle of effect markers. You can set a health marker that will heal your units, a smoke screen which makes it more difficult for the units to be hit, a decoy which can direct fire away from your units (or other targets) and, eventually, air strikes which gives you your only offensive ability in the game as the squad leader.

Story mode features 3 locations with multiple missions or maps to work through. The game has an incremental tutorial system to teach you how to use new units and abilities that works well. Each map also allows you to select 1 of the 3 difficulty modes so it’s easy to adjust the difficulty as you get used to the game.

Each map will also contain a mission objective which will vary from map to map. The objectives on each map range from just making it through a winding path, to clearing a path for a defenseless unit, or to destroy designated alien structures. Some of the maps include time restrictions to accomplish your goals which leads into the strategy portion of the game.

I was a bit worried that the controls might feel awkward, as most tower defense games tend to be better with more refined point and click control of a mouse, but the control of the squad leader to initiate the actions feels pretty natural. There are a lot of games that make their transition from a point and click style that really feel like they don’t make that transition well. This doesn’t suffer from that at all. In fact, it makes me wonder if the point and click method for the tablet version of this game is as good as the squad leader controls are in this game.

If you are looking for something that is going to be visually stunning, don’t hold your breath. The graphics are certainly good enough for the game genre but aren’t anything special. I was surprised at the amount of extra story elements that were put into the game though. There is a lot of voiceover acting, and each map builds up the story, but certainly don’t get into this with high expectations on that either. The voice acting will not inspire thoughts of Oscar winning performances. Fortunately, it does let you skip those parts which is really nice if you have to replay through the map or if you decide to go back and give a map another go.

Anomaly does incorporate something that is not typical in the tower defense genre. It has a multiplayer mode. I was pretty anxious to try this out as I was curious how this would be adapted for something that seems to be geared very much for single player control. What they did was to decide to split up the roles. You have 2 squad leaders, each with his own responsibilities. One player will control the units by purchasing new ones, the updrades and setting the order. The other leader is in charge of setting the route. Since the multiplayer map is an open grid with waves of towers sprouting up seemingly randomly on the map with a time constraint on destroying the objective towers, there is plenty for both players to handle. The abilities have also been split with one leader getting the health and airstrike abilities and the other getting the smoke screen and decoy abilities. Each player does have a “boost” ability to match up to the other leader’s ability which requires some coordination to get them to work correctly as the boost has to be laid in the area of effect for the ability for it’s benefit to be felt. It’s as good of a coop multiplayer mode as I’ve played in most any other tower defense game.

Final thoughts
While you won’t be wowed be the graphics or the lackluster voice acting, that shouldn’t be why you are playing this game. Anomaly: Warzone Earth features a wide range of playing styles and modes that offer a very good experience for the tower defense genre. Add to it the unique strategy element and this is a very well put together game that should appeal to both fans of the genre and strategy hounds as well. My biggest complaint with the game is that I do wish there were more levels to it, but even what it gives you makes this game a really good value. There is certainly enough gameplay to make you feel like you got your money’s worth out of the game and if you can find a buddy to tackle the unique coop mode with you, there is plenty more to boot.

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