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Anomaly: Warzone Earth Review

Marshall Honorof | 25 Sep 2012 21:00
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Like your units, each enemy tower has distinct strengths and weaknesses. Ubiquitous Blaster towers sit still and fire moderately damaging projectiles, while hulking Behemoths can tear through multiple units, but take a long time to aim. As the commander, you can use a variety of supportive techniques to help bring them down. A simple repair radius will keep your machines alive long enough to take down a Blaster, while a smoke cluster or decoy target can divert more powerful adversaries. Since the towers appear in a variety of different positions, configurations, and combinations, finding the right mix of routes, power-ups, and squad compositions for each encounter can be tense, but ultimately feels rewarding.

You can upgrade your units as each stage progresses, although this comes with its own set of caveats. Upgrading units is quite expensive, and acquiring even small amounts of money often requires detours through dangerous territory. Even more frustrating, upgrades only apply to individual units, so if you have two APCs in your squad, you'll need to pay for each one separately.

The campaign can take six to eight hours depending on difficulty settings, but two extra arcade modes and a local cooperative mode extend the playtime. These scenarios, which assault the player with wave after wave of increasingly tough enemies, both play well. The arcade missions tend to last much longer than their campaign counterparts, which means a higher difficulty, but also more resources and more time to plan ingenious routes and sound strategies. While they lack the narrative weight and urgency that the campaign provides, they also provide more leeway in creating, maintaining, and upgrading an army, making them an attractive time-sink for anyone in the mood for a longer-form version of A:WE. Online cooperative or competitive play would have been welcome additions as well, making their absence all the more palpable.

A:WE is a superlative downloadable title. A cheap price tag belies a deep, difficult game that offers some frustration, but much more fun. Even if you've had more than your fill of tower defenses lately, give this one a shot. You might be surprised just how much a shift in perspective can change the feel of a whole genre.

Bottom Line: Anomaly: Warzone Earth delivers satisfying gameplay and a strong story, even if the non-campaign content is thin.

Recommendation: Strategy fans should pick this one up posthaste, but neophytes might want to cut their teeth on something easier.

This review is based on the PS3 version of the game.

Game: Anomaly: Warzone Earth
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Developer: 11 bit studios
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Platform(s): PC, Mac, Xbox 360, PS3, iOS, Android
Available from: Steam, App Store, XBLA, PSN, Play Store

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