There are no shortage of tower defence games available for the different systems around today and chances are you’ve played at least one of them, so why would anyone bother with another? Anomaly 2 (the sequel to the PC game Anomaly: Warzone Earth) from 11 Bit Studio is a little bit different, as it turns the tables on the Tower Defence genre and becomes a Tower Offence game; rather than place units on a map and wait for the enemy to advance, units armed to the max take the fight to the enemy and go and kick massive alien butt.
The story takes place on a future post-apocalyptic Earth invaded by an alien race who have subsequently installed hulking great towers that make short work of anything that strolls too close to them. It is the player’s role as commander to take control of a patrol of mech units and eliminate that enemy threat.
The game starts things off simply at first, introducing the player to the game’s various technical gameplay aspects across a three-level training simulation with the first encounter controlling the Assault Hounds. The player never controls these units directly but instead issues commands on the ground from his combat suit, whilst able to view the unfolding action from above.
Each unit has two modes of operation and these generally mean one for long range attack and one for shorter encounters. The player is able to morph the units at any time simply by placing the commander over it and pressing the relevant button. The march of the patrol through a map is relentless but the player does have the ability to pause and take stock of the situation by switching to the tactical map. This allows the commander to plan his route through a level, which is important due to the number of enemies to kill and the resources to collect to improve units – get this wrong and the patrol can end up as scrap very quickly. The events are rather fluid, though as new enemies can appear out of the ground the player needs to adapt to an evolving situation.
Although combat units will simply fire on whatever unit is closest and unquestioningly take a hammering of enemy fire, the player is able to aid them with some modifying abilities. At first this is the ability to place down a healing area; as the units walk through the glowing green circle their health is restored. As the game progresses, along with new unit types like artillery with longer range attacks, abilities such as decoy and concentrate fire are introduced and careful use of these will be needed to defeat the varied enemy towers the game spits out.
One of the biggest draw backs with RTS games on consoles is the fluidity of the control system, or more usually the lack of it. The precision of the mouse & keyboard combination offered by the PC often doesn’t translate well to a console joypad. There are no such issues in Anomaly 2 however, although surprisingly 11 Bit didn’t take advantage of the PS4’s trackpad surface. Instead the commander is free to move about the map using the left stick issuing his orders using the four face buttons. The submenus seem a bit fiddly at first and in the heat of battle it’s possible to fumble on placing the abilities on the map, but they generally work very well and it is frustration free. Deaths are down to poor tactics, not poor controls.
The game’s look at feel is somewhat metallic. Fonts are very square but easy to read and the colour palette is made up of silver, copper and gold. It’s not going to blow anyone away in terms of polygon counts and impressive textures but the styling suits the game well. The neon like tactical map gives a great impression of being the mission architect and it’s easy to see what is going on throughout a level which is important when the action gets intense as it really gets the pulse racing; poor visuals would massively hinder this.
The story mode will take about five hours to get through but there’s plenty of scope for replaying the different maps. With the four difficulty levels from casual to nightmare the gamut is wide enough for players of all abilities to be able to enjoy the action. There is also a player-vs-player mode in the game.
Unsurprisingly in this multiplayer mode, one player takes on the role of the aliens, placing their towers on the map and the other gains control of the commander to destroy the defence points. There are two ways to victory; either earn the required amount of points on a map to win or gain a point advantage over an opponent. There are a number of training levels to get the player acquainted with how the multiplayer aspect works and it’s worth seeking out the tower side of this at least, given it’s the reverse of the solo game action.
For £11.49 there’s a lot to like about Anomaly 2; the campaign mode is fun to play and the different take on the Tower Defence genre is an interesting one. It’s well worth the asking price.