Review: Anomaly Warzone Earth (XBLA)
Title: Anomaly Warzone Earth
Platform: XBLA, iOS, PC, MAC (Reviewed on XBLA)
Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Tagline: Reverses the Roles from a normal Tower Defense Title
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Buy It Already
When 11 Bit Studios released Anomaly Warzone Earth on various platforms, it seemed to hit on a new formula in the oversaturated tower defense genre. Instead of going around, setting up towers, why not make the player the team trying to invade the defensive perimeter. That simple change on the normal concept spawned huge sales, and now, Xbox 360 owners have a chance to join in on the action.
Flipping the tower defense idea is not a new idea, but Anomaly Warzone Earth does it so well. You are presented with a simple overview map with a series of roads, all of which have enemy towers that have been planted by aliens looking to destroy our world. The idea is to set up the path that your team of vehicles will follow, with a risk/reward factor playing into each decision. Mapping out a high risk route will net you more points and money, but will put your crew at a higher risk, while playing it safe will keep you safer, but will keep you lean and mean in the wallet. As you earn more money, it allows you to buy more units, or upgrade the ones you have with better weapons and armor.
You also get a unit called The Commander, which you actively control on the screen. The Commander is like your field general, which sets up smokescreens, decoys and repair zones, while picking up more power-ups that are dropped by friendly aircraft. It feels a bit weird to be controlling both the overhead action, as well as The Commander, but it works well, as you move your Commander to where you want to deploy your repair zones or smokescreens.
Enemy towers are varied and set up different challenges for you to navigate. While they start off simple enough as simple turrets, later missions have you pit against towers that might fire beams of energy that require you to tackle them from alternate directions, as a head on strike would be suicide. Enemies will also blow out roads with some weapons, forcing you to make changes to your routes on the fly. This kind of on the fly tactical shift can make for some tense moments and when you survive them, you feel like you have achieved something great.
Moving a game that was based on a touch or mouse and keyboard control scheme can be difficult, but since the PC version already had built in support for the Xbox 360 gamepad, it makes an effortless transition to the big screen. Controls are laid out logically, and you never feel rushed or flustered with the controls. I did miss the ability to do things like scroll around the screen, and exploring farther away from your mobile squadron was safer to do with the PC version, but these are minor complaints, as the core gameplay is the exact same on the Xbox 360 as it was on the PC or the iOS versions.
Beyond the campaign, there are other modes that allow you to take on specialty missions, including bonus Squad Assault levels and the Tactical Trials. While the main story missions are tough and challenging, these might make you pull out your hair with the extreme difficulty even at the lowest levels of play. Leaderboards shore up your competition against other players and friends which can help with bragging rights and comparing against the world as a whole.
Anomaly Warzone Earth hits on all cylinders when it comes to enjoyment and fun, while packaged at a very nice price. Casual fans can jump in and have a bit of fun, while the hardcore strategy crowd can study the maps and plan out routes to their hearts content. If you haven’t had a chance to pick this up on another platform, you would be remiss in passing Anomaly Warzone Earth by, as it offers up a surprising amount of depth and fun for its price tag.
Good Job Commander:
- Solid gameplay mechanics
- Easy to pick up and play
- Lots of replay value
Conduct Not Becoming a Commander:
- Extra challenge maps can be a struggle to complete
- Feels a bit claustrophobic at times with commanding the Commander
Anomaly Warzone Earth is a game that is safe for most ages. While it does feature warring vehicles, no blood is shown, and the aliens are destroyed in explosions that show no graphic detail of the carnage. However, younger children might get confused by the idea of mapping routes. Maybe stick with 10 and up just because of the technical nature of the game.