Anomaly Warzone Earth (XBLA) Review
The year is 2018 and alien spacecrafts have crash landed across the earth, and you, a mere one soldier is to command your troops to victory. Anomaly Warzone Earth is a tower offense style game, which incase you hadn’t already guessed, is pretty much the opposite of your usual tower defense game; you command the ships (or in this case, APCs, tanks, and such) to destroy the towers that have been overtaken by anomalies. As the game progresses, enemy forces become stronger and much more plentiful in their attempts to stop you from defeating them.
Let’s see what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of 11 Bit Studio’s Anomaly Warzone Earth.
Fun To Play
The game gives a significant amount of planning and strategy privileges to the player from early on, and those advantages must be used very wisely to ensure survival. As you go on, those privileges are expanded upon with the player receiving new commands such as air support to demolish oncoming anomalies or to simply enjoy yourself while watching explosions. The greatest thing about all of it is that the controls are easy to get down, so you shouldn’t find yourself not enjoying the game as a result of hard to master controls.
The Game Feels Interesting
While there were some parts where the game felt like it was progressing slowly, I was often on the edge of my seat making sure that everything I wanted to happen surely did. While playing, the game gives you multiple path options throughout each level that you can use to get to the end of the level more strategically. As well, the music in the game fits very well at most all times, which certainly helps the player be more interested in the game. Though the overall music is great, the dialogue in the game at times seems repetitive and annoying to the point where you may want to turn it off altogether.
Not a Simple “Do this, do that” Game
Anomaly actually requires a strategy a majority of the time for the player to be able to progress. You may at times make it past a checkpoint with little thought having been put into the strategy used for the part, but an upcoming part will likely require more thought, as I often experienced. Though this may seem like more work than its worth, there is definitely an accomplished feeling when a difficult part that you have been stuck at is finally completed.
Graphics and Design
The game does an excellent job of depicting war devastated battle zones no matter which area you may be in, and does a great job of not re-using old environments. While yes, you are in the middle of an invasion, the developers subtly put in landmarks from the various areas that you visit including the Tokyo Tower in, you guessed it, Tokyo. While the graphics aren’t necessarily ahead of their time, they fit the game well enough for it to easily be overlooked. While going through the game, the player travels to various areas around the world including war torn Baghdad, as well as Tokyo, Japan. Areas are distinguishable with their differences with the levels that are in Tokyo being dark, gloomy, and rainy, as opposed to Baghdad’s dusty, more lit up environment. The location clash among the areas beautifully shows how well the game transitions from one area to another in the story.
Exclusive Xbox Live Arcade Tactical Missions
A big plus that is found in this version of the game are the fun new tactical missions. These new missions are progressively unlocked throughout the game as you complete missions in the regular story mode. In these missions, you play in a virtual reality style area, while completing various goals such as breaking through enemy defenses, in true tower offense style, or even destroying high proximity mines. As you progress through these missions, the difficulty is amped up both in what your objective is, and the continuous loss of valuable supplies. There are six of these new exclusive missions to play through.
I at times found myself losing sections of levels as a result of the game for some reason not acknowledging a path switch I made, or a repair command that easily makes a difference. While some of these problems can be prevented simply double checking your map overview, or planning commands earlier, they are still things that can mess you up in the midst of a long battle.
Overwhelming Difficulty Spikes
While the majority of the game is considerably easy, even beyond the regular casual difficulty, certain parts of the game out of nowhere will constantly destroy you until you finally restart the level and restrategize considerably. While difficulty increase is to be expected as you progress in the game, the most difficult parts for me were never consistently at the end, but were very sporadic.
A combination of the two previous points listed can easily lead to having a frustrating time while playing through the game on any difficulty higher than casual at times.
Lack of Replay Value
After having completed the game, I didn’t find myself wanting to play the game beyond possibly to snag some missed achievements from the first playthrough, or tinkering with the tactical missions briefly. The game’s story is moderately lengthy being that it took me about six hours to get to the end on the ‘advanced’ difficulty, which is the medium difficulty between casual and hardcore. Going up or down in difficulty may change that number by an hour or two whichever way you go.
I feel I should note, the play time is also highly dependent on your personal play skill. When I played, I towards the end found myself having troubles and restarting here and there, so this is a big factor for time, as well. I personally found this to be short, but isn’t the worst I’ve seen. In regards to the difficulty, its pretty easily doable on advanced difficulty with some exceptions.
My biggest gripe when I had finished playing through the story was simply that I enjoyed it and it was addicting, but it was surprisingly short for my personal standards. In the end, Anomaly is a great indie game, especially for the fair price of 800 points on the Xbox Live Marketplace. While there certainly are some flaws here and there, the overall game still shines in most areas. Whether you simply want a change from the usual tower defense games, or just want a new game to play in general, Anomaly Warzone Earth is certainly worth a try.[Editor's Note: Anomaly Warzone Earth was reviewed on the Xbox 360 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.] Anomaly Warzone Earth (XBLA) Review,