Anomaly: Warzone Earth (PSN) Review
Posted by Gavin Napier on 09.17.2012
11 bit Studios brings some much needed innovation to the tower defense genre with their latest offering.
Title: Anomaly: Warzone Earth
Developer: 11 bit Studios
Genre: Tower Offense/RTS
Players: 1-2 local co-op
By the nature of the beast, there's not a lot of innovation in the way of tower defense games. They just sort of are what they are. Some developers put new coats of paint on them, or use various setting such as medieval knights or space stations or football players, but they remain generally the same. Various units with various forms of attack - ground based, air strikes, heavy artillery, light speedy attacks, and defensive units, all try to attack a tower. Your job is to defend it with stationary units of the same types, and you have to find the right balance to keep them out. 11 bit Studios has flipped the script a bit, though, with Anomaly: Warzone Earth.
Rather than shipping out another nice looking tower defense game, 11 bit Studios has given you the opportunity to play offense. You're responsible for leading the attack, repairing and upgrading units, and marching from Point A to Point B on a map as quickly and efficiently as possible. The story isn't all that involved, but it doesn't hinder the game in any way, because you don't need a great deal of story. As the player, you're in charge of a military response team that is dealing with an alien invasion. You'll get voice overs from time to time from one of your fellow soldiers, a pleasant enough fellow that sounds more than a little like Ring of Honor star Nigel McGuinness.
Through the first few levels, you get simple tutorials on how to play the game in real time. The gameplay isn't what I would call deep, but much like the story, that's not a knock on the game. There's a quick walkthrough on how to plot a course across the map, and how to change the course if and when it becomes necessary, and how to maintain the units during the course of the levels. Through the first few levels, air support drops in power ups that allow smoke screens and decoys to be set, or repairs to be made on the fly.
Once you adjust to the pace of the game, it's quite fun. I'm not a huge tower defense fan normally, but Anomaly: Warzone Earth stands out. It's gotten great reviews on other platforms, and the PSN version holds up its end of the bargain in spades. The PSN version offers a co-op version that isn't found on X-Box Live or on Steam. In the co-op version, player one does the same thing that they would do in the solo mode. Player 2 takes control of the alien units that are out to destroy the earth. It's the first time I've played multiplayer tower defense, and it was a lot more fun than I anticipated. The level of competitiveness cranks up pretty quickly, and there's surprisingly a lot of room for trash talk.
As presentation goes, the game looks great. There are a lot of moving parts on the screen, but Anomaly does a great job of keeping things distinguishable on the screen. It's virtually impossible to lose track of where you or the military units are on the screen. The top-down view gives an excellent view of what's coming up so that the quick decisions that are such a vital part of the game don't become overwhelming.
The audio is busy but the voiceover instructions come through loud and clear. There's a lot going on, but there's no confusion. The audio does an excellent job of conveying the chaos that's unfolding around your troops, but still navigates you effectively through things.
I was admittedly apprehensive before playing this one, but it won me over pretty quickly. The game has a quick learning curve, but isn't simple. The game presents a challenge but isn't overwhelming. The game looks great, but doesn't sacrifice gameplay for aesthetics. It seems like a pretty simple twist that's been put on the tower defense genre, but mixing in a heavier than normal dose of real time strategy and switching the roles has worked wonders. The game moves quickly, looks great, and is addictive beyond belief. Easily one of the best titles I've played on PSN.
-great graphical presentation
-easy to pick up and play
-local co-op works
-solid audio presentation
-high replay value
-honestly, none spring to mind
I can't give it a 10 with games like Red Dead Redemption out there. For the genre, it looks great.
Not the deepest, but great at what it does.
The soundtrack is appropriate and the volume balance between effects and voices is well done.
Very addictive, and the co-op mode will take a long, long time to get old.
This is a great twist on a standard genre. Even if you're not a tower defense fan, this is worth a look.