Tower defense games differ from your typical strategy games. In these type of games, enemies follow a set path through a gauntlet of units trying to destroy them before they reach their goal. The player sets up stationary units that have a variety of abilities, such as close range and high damage or units that attack multiple targets. In tower offense games, the player takes the role of the units that are running the gauntlet using whatever abilities they have to survive the ensuing onslaught. Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a tower offense game in which the player takes on the role of a commander. This commander is in charge of supporting his (or her) convoy to make sure they succeed in their mission.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth’s plotline follows the recent trend of the alien invasion theme. Upon entering Earth’s atmosphere an alien ship breaks into two pieces, one of the parts lands in Baghdad and the other in Tokyo. The player begins the game by breaching a weak spot in the shield one of the pieces has erected over itself (and over the city). The cut-scene that introduces the player to the game begins strongly with military-style footage from gunships and radar screens showing what happens in real time. However, once the squad the player will be controlling is introduced the game’s preface comes to a screeching halt, leaving the player with the thought of “What just happened?”
The player takes on the role of the “commander,” a soldier who wears a special combat suit that gives him unique abilities. These abilities include superhuman speed, damage reduction (the commander will get shot at), and access to various support modules. Individuals at the helm of the commander may notice the back of this combat suit is identical to the layout of the module deployment screen in the game. The commander’s modules and the correct usage of them are the keys to victory throughout the missions in the game. These modules include smokescreens, decoys, the ability to call in airstrikes, and finally repair modules. These modules are limited in number and are deployed by the commander onto the map. They expire after a certain time period, or in the case of the decoy after it takes enough damage. Destroying enemies or passing checkpoints will help replenish the commander’s resources. The downsides to the replenishment are that the module type is random and destroying an enemy does not guarantee an airdrop. Although the commander has a variety of tools at his disposal the convoy he escorts perform all the actual offensive tasks. There is an assortment of unit types to choose from. Anomaly’s armory includes APC’s which are heavily armored units that are able to withstand concentrated fire, to shield vehicles that units that generate shielding to the unit in front and behind them, to the dragon which sets multiple enemies on fire. This diverse selection allows players to creative survivable formations in the six available convoy slots.
The overhead camera perspective gives a bird’s-eye view of the player’s mission area. 11bitstudios went through the extra effort to provide thorough detail into the city landscapes that the player will be traveling through. However, the limited zoom ability doesn’t allow viewing of the finer details of individual combat units.
The script for the voice acting was finely written, the cast of British actors played their individual parts well. The dialogue did inject some awkward emotional transitions when the characters would at one moment be speaking in a rational manner about one topic, then would spontaneously switch topics and inject an extreme opposite emotional response that was out of place. The sound effects for the game were nothing short of excellent, from the cannon fire of the behemoth turrets to the flames of the dragon tank. They did, however, get repetitive, you will hear them through the entire game.
The games control and layout leave just a little to be desired. The ease of moving your commander around and the controls associated with it are easy to understand, and the learning curve is minimal. However, on the map display in which the player assigns the route of their convoy, it can be tedious to select given points on larger maps. The selection method doesn’t flow logically. This isn’t enough of an issue to force the removal of hair or to throw objects across the room, but it can nag at you when you constantly wish to fine-tune your convoys route. The only other interface issue is the way buying/selling units is handled, it is very easy to attempt to upgrade a unit and end up selling it instead. Otherwise, the interface is easy to navigate and all the information you need is available at a glance. The game mechanics themselves had no noticeable glitches or bugs.
The challenging nature of Anomaly’s missions and their progressing difficulty contribute to the game’s addicting qualities. This combined with the entertainment value of exploring and eradicating extra-terrestrial life forms from real-world locations, make this game very enjoyable to play. The gratifying nature of the game, as well as the progressing difficulty levels of Anomaly: Warzone Earth, give it a high replay value. In addition, the player is allowed to replay levels on an individual basis. This is beneficial in the event the player would like to fine-tune their strategy to improve their score or earn better medals for that level. Different game modes such as Baghdad mayhem and Tokyo raid will present a different type of challenge outside of the normal story mode to help prevent the game from stagnating.
The E10+ rating for Anomaly is for the most part accurate. The game is all about violence between military units vs alien units (please note the mission video in this review). There is moderate use of vulgar language in the games dialogue. The usage of certain words may urge some parents to consider this game a T game, and may want to review the game ahead of time if that is the case. (Some examples, not all, are included in the video)
Anomaly: Warzone Earth performs well in it chosen genre. Despite the shortcomings, what few there are, the game is worth more than the current $0.99 price tag on Steam. Hardcore players may get 5-10 hours of gameplay from directly playing the storyline from start to finish at the highest difficulty, whereas more casual or newer players will get significantly more time through gaming and opting to replay levels at higher difficulty levels.