Tower defense games are not necessarily a new occurrence, even though in recent times they appear to have gained a new lease on life through independent games such as Defense Grid: The Awakening or PixelJunk Monsters. Anomaly: Warzone Earth offers a unique twist on the tower defense mechanic, if anything it's more a "tower offense" type game.
So 11 Bit Studios's award winning Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a tower offense game that throws you into a modern warfare type scenario similar to a lot of the popular shooters released in this generation. You've been tasked with commanding and leading the 14th Platoon through the war riddled streets of Baghdad and then Tokyo to investigate the anomalies and push back the invading extra terrestrial foes.
The game's meaty campaign features fifteen levels split between the two previously mentioned locations and with the PS3 version a brand new Local Co-Op mode not found on the XBLA, PC/Mac or Mobile versions. There are also three challenge modes to complete; Baghdad Maymen has you destroying all the alien generators within a specific time limit through ten waves that progressively increase in difficulty, while Tokyo Raid is a similar hoard-mode type affair to Baghdad Mayhem. These two modes act as a nice little distraction from the main storyline, or add extra length to a game you've already enjoyed, they won't keep your attention for hours but it's a pleasant addition.
So on to the gameplay, the only character or unit that the player moves is themselves, the Commander. As the Commander you have free roam of the battlefield while your units have to follow a set single file path of your choosing. You lead the units, repair the units, protect them from incoming fire with decoy units and smoke grenades and even airstrike the alien massive on some occasions. You also have the ability to sell units in favor of new ones strategically during the combat allowing you to select your play style on in the heat of a fight, selecting new units also allows you to pick the right squad for the upcoming situation.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth's spacing does a good job of introducing more enemies into the mix with the campaign progressing in the same fashion. It can be quite a daunting challenge when faced with escorting damaged friendly units, destroying shield generators or even frantically rushing across weak bridges as our extra terrestrial mates attempt to cause it to crumble under your feet - How kind. The game often makes you rethink your approaches or try differing strategies in an attempt to save mankind, but don't worry, Anomaly's checkpointing system is relatively generous, so you won't be throwing your controller down in frustration often.
For an independent game, Anomaly: Warzone Earth is quite pleasant on the eyes, the ever gritty Baghdad looks artistically vibrant and significantly better than most shoots of the modern warfare variety. Lighting is sharp and explosions look quite astounding at times as they boom sending a shockwave across a large radius. The menus and interface is smooth, classy and slightly future focused. It really wouldn't look out of place in a modern day science fiction film. Voice acting is a little hammy in places with its typically British accents, but it's hardly meant to be a AAA blockbuster with a massive budget for famous actors.
Another thing we liked was Anomaly's file size. It's a nice round 600mb which won't break your internets bandwidth bank. Even more impressive is the size of game that is contained within those 600 megabytes, which will easily last you a good five to six hours. I've downloaded demos and other games triple the size that don't contain anything near the amount of polish, quality or overall fun factor.
11 Bit Studios should be praised for the extra work involved with bringing Anomaly: Warzone Earth over the Playstation 3, for those who have played it in the past the new local cooperative mode will bring new life in to a previously enjoyed game. For new players, it's a fresh take on an overcrowded game genre that pokes it's head out above the rest. It's pretty hard not to recommend Anomaly to anyone else, especially seeing that the PS3 version is probably the best of the bunch, it's great to just pick up and play for a bit, the graphics are sharp, level design unique and it's just genuinely fun. You won't be disappointed if attempting to save the earth one last time.
Review Policy (Version tested: PS3)