Review: Anomaly: Warzone Earth
Turning a formula on its head is often a tricky job. So when I first played Anomaly: Warzone Earth on the iPad, I was impressed by the way it toyed with the tower defence genre, and placed control of the units navigating the maze of enemies in the players’ hands. The game was so perfectly suited to a touchscreen, that its hard to imagine the title working properly on a console. So, I’m happy to report that Anomaly has survived the transition to PSN, with very little lost in the process.
Taking place in a number of locations, the game places you in the role of the commander of a squadron, trying to survive deep behind enemy lines. Of course, the enemies are aliens, and you’re going to have to destroy as many of them as you can whilst performing a variety of objectives. The objectives themselves range from a straightforward “survive to the other end of the maze”, to an escort mission. That mission was less fun, escorting your squad whilst simultaneously escorting a plane might well be a new layer of hell. The game doesn’t just provide a full campaign though, with a wave based survival mode providing ample replay value after you’ve completed the main campaign. There’s plenty to keep you busy for quite some time, although the game is far more suited to small bursts of fun, rather than extended sessions.
However, the transition from touchscreen to controller has produced one odd extra, in the form of the commander. A tool for picking up power ups, his role amounts to little more than an anthropomorphised cursor, with little to do in the way of usefulness. While the rest of your units trundle along destroying enemies, you’re left to fire up powers, and repair your vehicles as and when you can. It feels little more like science fiction busywork, and a few extra abilities for the commander’s own use would have gone a long way. Even a pistol to chip away at an enemy would have alleviated the feeling of usefulness. Eventually you gain the ability to call down an air strike, but by then you’ve become rather bored with your support role.
Anomaly isn’t the best looking game I’ve ever seen, but it runs smoothly and everything looks decent enough. The sandy desert cities and the rain drenched streets look the part, and serve the real purpose of making your enemies and your troops stand out visually from the environments. The enemies are easy to tell apart from one another by silhouettes alone, so planning your route becomes rather strategic, avoiding lines of sight of some of the stronger foes until you feel confident enough to tackle them head on. Of course, you could always tackle these missions with a friend, but the PSN version’s exclusive co-op modes feel a bit like a missed opportunity. With one player taking on route planning and the other bolstering the forces, it feels a bit like both players have been given half a game to work with, and half the fun seems to follow on from that in a sad fashion. Once the second player has planned the route, he takes a bit of a backseat, dispensing some powers, but really player one gets the main meat of the game in choosing which units to pick, and how they form up. Its fun for a few moments, but it quickly gives way to a rather one sided co-op experience.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a fun diversion, with a good helping of content and a decent twist on the classic tower defence formula. It won’t blow your hair back with glee, but if you’re in the market for a bit of gaming comfort food, you’ll enjoy a snack on this one more often than not.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- A clever twist on the tower defence genre
- Plenty of content to keep you busy
- Graphics make it easy to distinguish between friend and foe
What I Dislike:
- Mission design is often dull and uninteresting
- Co-op presents both players with half a game
- The commander's role in the game often feels superfluous.