In my last review, “Defenders of Ardania,” I commented on how giving players the ability to attack as well as defend in the Tower Defence genre was an addition that brought the game to life, and allowed the player some input in their success beyond placing defences and hoping for some breaks. Anomaly: Warzone Earth takes this philosophy even further by ridding players of the defensive side of play altogether and instead leaves you with command of the attacking forces, as you attempt to drive your way through the defensive formations of your enemy.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth takes place in a futuristic Earth where a crashed alien spaceship has created a series of anomalies across the planet. These anomalies are unable to be viewed by traditional surveillance equipment. To this end, players take control of the commander of 14th Platoon, as they are sent into the heart of the anomaly, to determine just what the spacecraft’s inhabitants are up to. Is it worth your time to investigate this extra-terrestrial mystery? Or is this a future better left alone?
It’s Good To Be the Boss - As you’re now in control of an offensive, rather than defensive force, setting up tactics is slightly more involved than placing towers in strategically sound locations. Instead, you need to lead your forces safely through a series of turret-based gauntlets, destroying them as you go. Thankfully, Anomaly has an easy to manage routing system, with a well-designed map that utilises interesting visuals. You will feel like a futuristic military commander as you direct your troops to victory.
One-Man Army - Although your commander doesn’t have any offensive capabilities of his own (he acts as more of a caretaker for the forces under his command) he does have a few tricks up his sleeve. A selection of power-ups are offered through the course of the game to ease the path of your armoured convoy. Certain power-ups allow you to lay down smokescreens and deploy decoy forces to fool the enemy, and they can all be placed using the well-designed shortcut system, which requires minimal button presses to enact. You are also able to upgrade each of your units, using a smartly designed deploy system, all of which is accessible from a single screen.
The Grand Tour - Whilst the visuals on offer are clear, crisp, and generally representative of the areas they are supposed to depict, there isn’t a whole lot of variety to them. There are only two locations of offer, namely Baghdad and Tokyo, and although each area has multiple levels, you won’t really be able to tell one level from the other just by looking at screenshots. This lack of variety also extends to the vehicles and enemies available as well, with only a slight selection to be seen through the entire duration of the game.
Cor Blimey Guv’nor - It may be the fact that I’m English that led to me detesting the voice acting so much in this game, but my god is it awful. It’s almost as if someone locked Jason Statham in an underground room, drugged him up to remove what little acting ability he has, and then forced him to read out a selection of the most clichéd English expressions that they could think of. Yes, the Queen is mentioned, as is Big Ben, Guy Fawkes night, and of course, Tea and Crumpets. I finished the game wanting to shoot the commander more than the enemies.
Geriatric Warzone - Anomaly starts off at a remarkably slow pace, and upon completing the first few levels, I just figured it was a standard tutorial-esque tactic, to ease players in gently. This wasn’t the case. Anomaly stays slow through the vast majority of its levels, and although there is the option to speed up the action slightly, it takes away from your ability to effectively manage your forces. For a game based so heavily on action, it takes a long time to get going, and even then, it’s at a snail’s pace.
Tower Offense is an interesting twist on an otherwise greatly overused genre, and Anomaly: Warzone Earth offers up some decent arguments as to whether it could be a genre in its own right. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough here to recommend Anomaly as the ground-breaking genre changer that it could otherwise have been. Whilst it is fun running the show, ordering vehicles around and attempting to halt an alien invasion, the lack of variety and seeming lack of impetus takes away any tension or desire that could have potentially been aroused from players. Instead, we are left with a rather mundane slog through enemy territory, with the execution falling short of some promising planning.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*