Anomaly: Warzone Earth Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Tower defense games are a great way to spend a couple of hours. They are strategic enough to be fun, but easy enough to keep players playing. I do wonder from time to time about the people walking the road past my “towers of death.” Who are they? Why are they walking senselessly to their doom? Anomaly: Warzone Earth helps to answer these burning questions. The game puts the player in the role of a commando tasked to navigate roads surrounded by towers trying to kill them. It’s a reverse tower defense game, if you will. So, is it any fun being the other guy? Surprisingly, it is.
What Anomaly: Warzone Earth does exceptionally well is take what is normally a slow-paced genre and make it action-packed and exciting. Players control a small guerrilla officer that can pick up dropped power-ups and direct vehicles around the map. The main gameplay element in Warzone Earth is commanding your vehicles to go down specific roads to a goal, such as a strategic position or through a heavily defended area.
With one button press, a map of the level will appear. From there, players create a route to the level’s goal. Once you have exited from the map, all the vehicles will begin to follow the laid-out route. The strategy of the game comes from picking routes with fewer enemies, oftentimes adjusting on the fly, and using power-ups appropriately.
Players are equipped with four power-ups: healing, smoke screen, a decoy vehicle, and a bomb. Healing creates a small circle that will heal all units in its radius, a smoke screen will make your units invisible for a short while, the decoy will draw fire, and the bomb does massive damage to enemy towers.
The gameplay mechanics are interesting because they take away any sense of power that the player may have. This game isn’t about building strength and attacking, though there are vehicle upgrades and the units do attack towers; it’s about surviving until the end. I found this to be an incredibly refreshing mechanic and one that I’d like to see implemented more in the future.
Graphically, Anomaly: Warzone Earth is very underwhelming. I understand the game is available on multiple platforms, and many of them not as graphically advanced as the Xbox 360, but more could have been done for the console version. I feel that a console version of a game nearly a year after its original release warrants a graphical upgrade.
My biggest gripe with the game is that movement with the commando can be cumbersome. I found that sometimes the character would get stuck on objects and miss some of the action happening on the road, which would lead to some units being destroyed. This can get frustrating, especially in the beginning stages where the player doesn’t have too many units to work with.
Also, stripping the players of their ability to shoot is a hindrance to the game, as it means the player has no real interaction with the world. This hurts the immersion of the game because you become just an observer of the world. A simple mechanic like giving the players the ability to shoot would make things feel a little more engaging, even if the bullets did very slight damage, and it’d make players feel important. As the game is now, the player is more of a ghost, just mildly affecting the world.
Overall, Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a great tower defense game turned on its head. The quick pace mixed with its interesting mechanics make for a game that will satisfy the most hardcore of strategy fans while being simple enough to appeal to casual players. It’s not often that we see a game that can turn a convention on its head and I applaud 11 Bit Studios for a job well done.
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