Released back in 2011, 11 Bit Studios’ Anomaly: Warzone Earth served as an interesting twist on the tower defense genre by having the player act as the invading force against the enemy ‘Towers’. Last week saw the release of a full-fledged sequel, which adds a major new element to the game while retaining the things that made the first installment such a success.
Anomaly 2 picks up over a decade after the events of the first game and Anomaly: Korea. The Machines have since returned to Earth, destroying almost all of civilization in the process. Players control Lt. Lynx, who has been tasked with securing a new weapon that could prove instrumental in humanity’s fight against the Machines. Visually, Anomaly 2 offers some pretty interesting scenery. The graphics are unique and heavily stylized, though not enough to be overly distracting or to detract from the game’s cheesy, yet dark storyline.
Players don’t actually have any direct control over their units and instead take on the role of commander. Able to freely roam around the map ahead of their slow moving forces, players will have to decide the best route to take, as well as provide support for their units during battle. New to this game is the ability to switch your units between two different modes. Learning which units to take into battle and when to morph into their alternate forms adds a whole new layer of strategy to an already intense situation. Players can also support their units with various abilities, which include setting up a recovery point that heals units who pass through it, laying decoys to draw enemy fire or setting off an EMP to temporarily disable enemy Towers.
Resources to enable these abilities are in very limited supply, meaning that one wrong move could spell doom for your units. Players are able to gain more power-ups from fallen enemy units, and adapting one’s strategy to whichever resource they obtain is essential to survival. Scouting for more enemy drops and laying down decoys also puts Commander Lynx at risk of attack. If the player takes too much damage they’ll stop moving for a few seconds, leaving their units completely open to attack.
Those who are new to the series may be surprised by its unflinching difficulty. Choosing ‘Normal’ difficulty does not give the player the ability to stroll through even the early missions without carefully planning for future confrontations. Luckily, the game offers a plethora of tutorials and hints to help ease the player into its world. Each new enemy, unit and ability are carefully explained to the player. This may seem like hand-holding at first, but it becomes entirely necessary as things become more complex throughout. As difficult as things became, Anomaly 2 never felt unreasonable or unfair.
Possibly the most exciting thing about this sequel is the added multiplayer mode. This pits players against each other on both sides of the conflict. One player will take the usual offensive role as a commander, while the other controls the Machine towers. The slow beginning to these matches are filled with tension as players work to gather resources and lay down their plans of action. It was very clear to us that people (including ourselves) are still getting used to the game’s mechanics, but we’re excited to see how players learn to hone and adapt their strategies in the future. Anomaly 2‘s multiplayer aspect has a lot of potential and that alone makes this game worth a look.
In the end, those who enjoyed the original Anomaly will certainly love its sequel. The gameplay offers some satisfying victories and an excellent subversion of the usual tower defense genre. Anomaly 2 is now available for $14.99 on PS4, PC, Android and iOS.