Anomaly 2


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Complete Review & Description

Tower defense games are not generally the most innovative. The formula remains largely static: you build towers to protect against an advancing enemy along a fixed path; wave after wave, you build more towers as the enemies become increasingly difficult to fend off.
In Anomaly 2, the sequel to the innovative and critically acclaimed Anomaly: Warzone Earth, rather than being on the defense, the campaign flips that paradigm on its head, taking the battle to an invading Alien enemy which are pushing humankind to the verge of extinction by creating huge, domineering towers.

The story in Anomaly 2 is extremely thin, acting largely as flavour text for the action, which there is no shortage of. Various levels are set against a bleak, cold, and war-torn landscape, through mountains and cities which looks nothing short of amazing, making for some exciting battlegrounds. Largely, the Campaign acts as a platform for players to learn the ins and outs, preparing you for the challenging multiplayer.
The gameplay dynamic hasn’t changed significantly from the predecessors, making Anomaly 2 less innovative – but not necessarily any less fun. In the campaign, you take control of a number of mechanised units, and move your commander (named Yukon) around the field of battle. You use a tactical display to set the route for your military convoy along a number of fixed paths, avoiding frontal attacks from some of the aliens more brutal machinery, all the while guiding your units towards key locations on the map. The range of pathing options you have helps each battle pan out differently, giving you a number of options, and you can also customise your convoy from a range of awesome futuristic mechs to further mix things up.

Each of the units in the convoy can convert into a different mech form with different battle characteristics, allowing you to dynamically change your convoy to gain strategic advantage over the aliens. Your machine gun unit, for example, converts into a powerful flamethrower unit, each of which is suited to its own unique situation. This keeps the action intense and fast paced, as you often have to switch units quickly. The convoy can even be swapped around on the fly, allowing you to move key units to the front, or, as often happens, out of harms way to the back.
Yukon darts around the battlefield in Anomaly 2, at your command, placing repair modules, EMP grenades which temporarily disable enemy turrets, decoys which draw fire, or targeting attacks which force all units within a radius to concentrate their fire. The number of these actions you can use depends on how many you have Yukon collect from destroyed towers, making it crucial to focus on moving Yukon around while also keeping track of where your convoy is.
The range of alien towers is so diverse, it makes you change up your strategy multiple times each level and requires a reasonable amount of focus, and even Yukon becomes stretched. I much preferred the touch sensitive controls of the iPad and Android versions of Anomaly, because Yukon feels more like a clunky cursor – he takes damage but it feels like he glides over the landscape rather than actually being part of the battle. I can understand why they opted to have a commander, and it adds to the challenge, but it does detract slightly from the immersion for me and makes the more fast paced levels feel downright hectic.

The multiplayer is where Anomaly 2 deserves applause. Somehow, the developers have created a tower defense gameplay variant which is just perfectly suited to multiplayer. One player takes on the role of the Earth convoy, while another takes on the role of the alien invaders. Each player engages in a tug of war for points, with the point difference between the two being key to success. Both players earn points from attacking and destroying enemy units, but the convoy’s ultimate goal is destroying key alien buildings for a fat bounty in victory points. As the aliens, you place a range of towers, while harvesting coin, with which to build more advanced towers and buy tech upgrades.
It does feel that playing as the aliens gives you a slight disadvantage, particularly because playing as the humans is much like the singleplayer campaign. The aliens have a large range of towers, you see, and it takes some time to understand when best to implement them – though again the campaign assists you in learning how to utilise these them, to an extent. It’s great fun, fast paced, and nail-biting as you watch your competing scores dart up and down in relation to one another and I found that I was able to win almost equally often, regardless of which side I opted for.

While Anomaly 2 will be easy enough for people who have played the original, it can be a challenge to pick-up and play for newbies – especially once you advance onto the later levels where things heat up. To avoid the frustrating element of having to restart segments where your strategy hasn’t worked out, the excellent and regular placement of waypoints makes it possible to restart sections of each level with relative ease, allowing you to try another route or strategy. It’s clear there are many, many ways to play Anomaly 2 and equally as many ways to victory, but developing a sound strategy takes time, which makes Anomaly 2 a fun challenge to come back to.
11 bit Studios, the creators of Anomaly 2, have shown once again that small indie developers can achieve astounding things and Anomaly 2 has a lot going for it. As a tower defense game it is easily one of the best, and the gameplay is a welcome change to the traditional formula. The price-point of only US$14.99 (on Steam) makes it difficult to resist, but don’t expect to be tied up for days on end playing the campaig



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