Anomaly: Warzone Earth is developed and published by 11 bit Studios on PC and published by Microsoft on the 360, it is also available on Mac, iOS and Android devices. The most adequate genre to put it into is Tower Defence but that doesn’t quite ring true.
After two asteroids crash land in Baghdad and Tokyo it is soon revealed that they are actually wrecks of alien spacecraft. After the crash, large spheres called anomalies appear over the crash sites. You as the commander of an armoured battalion must infiltrate these anomalies and fight back the invaders.
The game can be best described as Tower Defence with role reversal; you take part as the attacking side against the defending aliens. As with most games of the genre you earn money to upgrade your troops and recruit new ones by destroying enemies and finding Carusaurum caches. After getting your initial set of troops or cash allotment to buy troops; you have to set a path through the city and battle against various alien towers.
You, as the commander, run alongside your troops but never fire a single shot. What you do have is the ability to lay down four different abilities in support. Initially you only get the repair skill that heals all units within its radius but you soon earn the smokescreen and decoy abilities before the airstrike later in the game. Using abilities is essential to your troop’s survival as they will take large amounts of damage in almost all situations regardless of difficulty level.
The troop types are as follows: APC, Crawler, Tank, Shield, Dragon and Support. APCs mix high armour with a steady but low damage stream and also are the cheapest. Crawlers have a long range, high damage but low armour and fire at a slower pace sometimes stopping for brief periods. Tanks have higher damage and armour than an APC but cost double the price. Shields are invaluable in my opinion as they grant a recharging shield that absorbs a fair amount of damage to the vehicles in front and behind itself. Dragon tanks do a constant stream of damage to one target on each side of itself which can set fire to enemies increasing damage done substantially; they also have a large amount of armour but cost the most. Support vehicles spawn abilities and depending on which upgrade level it is it enhances the corresponding ability. There is also occasionally, a unit that is there to be protected but has no weapons of its own.
Alien towers come in various forms; from the standard attack towers, behemoth towers that cause large damage of an area, stormray towers that fire chain lightening, two supporting structures and generators. The supporting structures mix up the gameplay the most; one fires an area of effect hack, which forces any allied units that are in the area with you to attack you. The other support structure drains any abilities you use in line of sight of it and channels the drained energy into reconstruction and repairs of nearby towers. There is also a mine structure that when destroyed will wipe out everything in the vicinity though these are very scarce.
The real tactical side of the game shows itself when you start to mess with the exact directions you are giving your troops, the composition of your troops and which to upgrade. That combined with the limited sources of abilities can really make or break the game. On the lowest difficulty you rarely have to move your troops around much but on the higher levels it soon becomes a must as spamming smoke and repair will only get you so far.
Aside from the main campaign there are tactical challenges which have some interesting restrictions or goals that you must achieve. These are unlocked via completing the campaign missions and do provide much more challenge even on the lower difficulty levels. Baghdad Mayhem is a single map where you strive to eliminate the generators and enemies that are spawned in each of the 10 waves. Any enemies not eliminated in the previous wave stay until they are destroyed. While this mode is rather easy, Baghdad Mayhem Rearmed is far more difficult, is 18 waves and is unlocked after the first is completed. The last extra mode is Tokyo Raid which like Baghdad Mayhem consists or numerous waves; each wave however is a separate level with varying objectives.
It is an impressive looking game and it uses the same tactical overlays that are normally only really seen in Ghost Recon games. It does make the map incredibly easy to navigate and it helps to highlight key locations such as chokepoints, cover and locations of the Carusaurum cashes.
Music conveys the tone of the game well, and the voice acting is good even if it does get cut out very easily if you are speeding up the game. The music is militaristic in tone so it keeps well to the game. Accents are maybe the only thing that doesn’t always sit right but that may also be due to the language used.
The story is a little strange as the events that unfold never really give an explanation to why only six vehicles at any one time would go in to destroy an alien invasion. Barring that one problem it serves well enough to get you from one mission to another without it feeling disjointed.
Presentation and Audio
The game looks really nice and the Baghdad environments look much better from above than many FPS games in similar locations. The dialogue while good can be interrupted incredibly easily as you fast forward through the slow movement.
The gameplay is untouched from the PC but the controls have been mapped and very successfully to the 360 controller; though it does take getting used to. The game is a unique spin on Tower Defence and it works; it is maybe a touch too much micromanagement on the higher difficulties. Also you need to be much more aware of your surrounding than with other games of the genre as you are on the receiving end of all the punishment.
It shows that offence is just as fun as defence and it offers many game modes to keep you occupied. It is however more difficult and requires more micromanagement than other games of its type. Even if you aren’t a fan of Tower Defence this may be enough of a change to the formula to draw you in.
The controls work surprisingly well on 360, at first it feels a little cack-handed but it is easy to learn and soon becomes second nature in heated moments. I started the game in the hardcore difficulty but soon ran back to casual as it is the closest to normal difficulty as there is. The micromanagement of the harder difficulties was something that I wasn’t too comfortable with but got used to during the latter levels of the campaign on casual and some of the tactical challenges.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.