The premise of the Anomaly games is so simple that it’s a wonder it hadn’t been executed before. Anomaly: Warzone Earth took the iOS staple of Tower Defense and turned it inside out; having you play as the attack force whose job is to maintain a constant onslaught and push through enemy defenses. Essentially, this game helped create a sub-genre on its own; Tower Offfense!
Anomaly 2 takes place a number of years after the first title and even though the basic gameplay hasn’t changed, the stakes have. The metallic alien invaders are still on Earth, and in fact have decimated humanity to near-extinction. Your objective is to lead a caravan of heavy armor through gauntlets of these giant metallic dragon-things while managing their status with your little scout man.
There are two primary views within the game; a satellite view that allows you to observe the entire map and plan routes accordingly, and an in-game view where the action plays out in real time. In many ways, this setup is the best of both worlds. It appeals to twitchy RTS fanatics with the feverish ground-level management that occurs while your convoy fights its way through areas.
The simple control options on the ground allow for split-second tactical changes that can be the difference between leading your machines to victory or standing in a pile of rubble. The only real problem with the ground view is that it is high up, which is nice for the sake of tactical views, but it doesn’t allow you to zoom in closer or change the angle of view. It’s really too bad because Anomaly 2 is a great looking game and being able to engage with it from different perspectives would show that off nicely.
The other view switches you from a tactical to strategic view. It’s up here where you plan routes, buy and upgrade equipment, and take a breath after narrowly escaping an ambush. At first, you can pretty much just plow through areas with whatever vehicles you choose. After a few missions however, this approach stops working with all the subtlety of an anvil dropping on you. It’s at this point where the strategy menu becomes incredibly useful. Much like in last year’s surprise hit XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a great deal of time and care is spent analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of various configurations and praying you make the right choices.
Some of the missions in Anomaly 2 can be quite lengthy, which is not a problem, and to the game’s credit there are numerous marked checkpoints throughout. One thing that bugs me however about the checkpointing is that it only applies if you are staying in-game. If you close Anomaly 2 out mid-mission, you have to start that level all over again. While this sort of thing is not unprecedented nor is it game-breaking, it comes across like a needless barrier that only serves to frustrate the player.
In terms of how this game relates to its predecessor, Anomaly 2 reminds me of Borderlands 2 in that this new title is giving you more of what you played before. That’s only really a good or bad thing depending on what you thought of the first game, but if you’re looking for revamped systems and innovation within the genre you’re not going to find it here. Then again, the old saying that ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’ certainly applies here. This is an incredibly fun and surprisingly deep game for anyone interested in dipping their toe into the strategy or tower defense genres.
[+Deceptively deep and complex] [+Easy to pick up and learn] [+Rock solid controls] [+Looks great] [-Not able to zoom in] [-Lack of in-mission save]