Developer: 11 bit studios
Price: $9.99 (£5.99)
Description: A Beautiful Reverse Tower Defence
Pros: Original concept, excellent execution, frantic and exciting.
Cons: Saving issues, not long.
Advised Control Method: Mouse (trackpad unusable)
Originality is like the gold-dust of gaming. Creating something completely original puts games in the spotlight. And that’s why Anomaly Warzone Earth is such a great game. It takes a genre that everyone is familiar with, and turns it on its head. Seeing everything from a new perspective, and being faced with new challenges is what makes Anomaly Warzone Earth so unique. That mixed in with the beautiful presentation, sound design, riveting action-packed set-pieces and strategy makes for a gaming experience like no other.
Anomaly Warzone Earth is set at the beginning of an alien invasion. A comet has crash landed into Earth and has brought along some unwelcome visitors. These visitors have created an anomaly in Iraq – a protective shield around the area – to prevent any outside intervention. You need to penetrate its walls and destroy it. But the area is heavily guarded by alien turrets and machinery… and this is where you come in.
Unlike most tower-defence games where you are in charge of placing turrets to fend off the oncoming foes, this time you are the helpless ‘foes’ on the catwalk, and you need to navigate your convoy of army vehicles to the set objectives without being destroyed in the process.
But to say that you are ‘helpless’, is a bit misleading. You play as a soldier on the ground, co-ordinating your vehicles. Not only are your trucks heavily armed with rockets and machine guns, you have a set of RAF planes at your disposal. With them, you can fix your vehicles, send in air strikes, smoke screens and decoys.
This is where the strategy is introduced. Even though you aren’t controlling the other end of the scale this time – the turrets – Anomaly Warzone Earth still retains some strategic elements. You always have access to a complete map of the area, with enemy turret placements and precious minerals marked. There is never just one route to go, and from the large map, you can set a path for your men, trying to avoid as many obstacles and collecting as many minerals as possible. But that’s not it. Management of your air strikes is key, and using them effectively will make the difference between losing and winning. You only have a certain amount of air support – you can pick up more on the ground – and you need to decide which enemies to use them against.
With the minerals you collect in the game, you can buy more vehicles (real-time) and upgrade existing ones. Gaining access to new machinery comes through progressing through the game.
Anomaly Warzone Earth performs very well technically. The graphics are phenomenal, and a great deal of work has gone into creating a realistic, dusty atmosphere to the urban, Iraq scenery. The streets are deserted and the game really does look good. So good in fact that it stumbles into some framerate issues. Depending on the specs of your computer, you may have to alter the game’s graphical settings before having a smooth enough experience. The sound plays just as well with some good voice acting and tense music taken straight out of an action film.
Despite its revolutionary gameplay, Anomaly Warzone Earth doesn’t last long enough to be a full experience, rather a short but sweet one. The game includes only 2 ‘worlds’ which are set in Iraq and Japan. Collaboratively, that’s 13 levels which when you get into the game, isn’t much. There are 2 randomised levels set in both areas which throw wave after wave of enemies at you. The difficulty does ramp up by the end, and trying out a higher difficulty level with improve play-time. Even so, don’t expect a lengthy campaign. As well as that, the game’s save system is somewhat inconvenient. In the game, if you die you restart as a nearby checkpoint – which is good – but if you leave the game altogether you have to start the whole mission again. As some missions can be quite long, this can become an annoyance.
In conclusion, Anomaly Warzone Earth is a white-knuckle thrill ride designed to transport you to the gritty war zone between alien and human in the middle east. It does this beautifully, and its exciting concept of ‘anti-tower defence’ gives hope to gamers for more original titles in the future. Good job.