Anomaly Warzone Earth was developed by 11 Bit Studios and retails for 800 MSP. It was released on April 6, 2012. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Anomaly Warzone Earth takes the tower defense genre and turns it on its ear. Instead of placing towers and picking off enemies you are thrust into the difficult scenario of finding a way to run the gauntlet. In the not so distant future aliens crash to earth and tough times ensue. A small convoy of soldiers must infiltrate and investigate the destruction. Anomaly Warzone Earth is an updated version of the iOS title that delivers new features to make it worthy of a XBLA release.
Here’s what we liked:
Unique concept – The tower defense genre is fairly well represented on XBLA. A new spin on the genre is in order and Anomaly Warzone Earth delivers. Taking control of those running the gauntlet seems very natural and is perfectly implemented. The key is in properly planning your route and then being flexible when unexpected obstacles arise. There are essentially two phases to the action. The planning phase has a large map of the area with all or most of the enemy locations spelled out for you. There you will plot your course, buy new units, upgrade them, and configure them. The action can be paused at any time to access the planning phase or re-route your squad. The action phase has your units plodding their course and fighting the enemies as they come. But this is not merely watching your planning play out. The leader unit is fully player controlled and has several functions. The leader collects power ups, activates them, and can draw fire from the convoy as well. It all comes together in a cohesive way that is ultimately as fun as it is unique.
Tactics galore – There are five different units that can be deployed in your convoy. Some are pure offense, some pure defense, and others a mix. There is no one size fits all configuration so adaptation is the key. A convoy can have a maximum of six units. Those six units can be moved from front to back of the convoy at any time as well. Coming through tight corridors lined with enemies forces you to really think about what will fit best in a situation. On top of the units the leader’s powers will really turn the tide of battle. The leader has the option to repair damaged units, set up a decoy unit, set up a smoke screen, or call in an air strike. Knowing how to use these effectively and when to use them is the key to victory.
Mission variety – Even with a killer gameplay system doing the same things over and over again will get old. Fortunately there is a fair amount of mission variety to be found here. In some missions you simply have to punch through the blockade. In others you have to clear a specific path as an escort. Stealth is occasionally involved and time limits are sometimes imposed. On a side note, time limits can be major drag in games. But Anomaly Warzone Earth does a great job by calculating exactly how long any particular route will take you. This takes out the guess work.
Smooth progression – The first level would be hard to lose. You would probably have to try to die to make it happen. But things get progressively more challenging and complex. Every level seems to add a new enemy or unit or some other wrinkle. The ramp up in difficulty and complexity is very smooth. Each level feels instructive and challenging. The default difficulty is called “casual” and even that packs a punch in later levels. Experienced gamers will not be disappointed.
Big punch in a small package – Bigger is better, right? Anomaly Warzone Earth is a relatively small 350MB. Considering the price of a HDD for the Xbox 360 any savings on space is a savings of money as well. What is most impressive is the quality they packed in to such a small space. We have played plenty of 2 Gig XBLA games that don’t come close.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
No map editor – Anomaly Warzone Earth is another example of a game that needs to have a map editor. We can only imagine the devious traps people could come up with if only given the chance. But this is really just a quibble. We don’t have any true complaints against this game.
Anomaly Warzone Earth is a great game on its own merits. It is also a rather unique and ground breaking game within the tower defense genre. Simply put, this game deserves your attention. It is incredibly easy to jump into but will prove rather challenging in the long run. There is plenty of content and a rather reasonable 800MSP price. This game is easy to recommend to everyone.
Score: Buy It