There’s always a small group of gamers who just can’t get enough of tower defence games, no matter what the platform. A good one may eat up a fair few hours of your life, pushing aside all of your upcoming plans and turning you into an unsociable, unreliable mess, whereas the bad ones leave you wondering why. Thankfully, Anomaly 2, the sequel to Anomaly: Warzone Earth is worth losing a few days to, so clear your calendar, draw your curtains, and cram your game-space with snacks.
From developers’ 11 bit studios, Anomaly 2’s campaign is all about tower offense vs. tower defence. Following a huge 2018 invasion, the Earth is now overrun with alien machines, persistent on making the human race extinct. The once green planet has been transformed into a mostly frozen wasteland, and the last of humanity have formed convoys, out on a constant mission to recover and repair a missing super weapon that will hopefully be strong enough to take down the intruding forces.
Over the course of the 14 chapter campaign, you’ll improve and expand your armoured convoy, adjusting its course and placement in the varied, detailed stages, in order to maximise effectiveness and damage. At the same time, you will need to avoid traps, complete specific objectives and then plan your next move carefully, during the occasional pausing of the real-time action. After setting your path, the convoy will begin moving, following orders with exceptional precision. As the actual player, you are free to run alongside, laying power-ups and assisting your colossal crew.
If you played the first game then this will all feel comfortable to you, and newcomers to the series shouldn’t have any problems picking up the simple yet effective methods of gameplay. Some may say that Anomaly 2 is too similar to the original, but new inclusions give and maintain a fresh feel throughout. One such example is the ability to change units’ forms of combat, clicking the mouse to reveal alternative fire modes and flexibility that will prove beneficial to different circumstances. This is a nice addition because it allows for the exploitation of strengths and weaknesses, as well as expanding the selection of strategic options.
A lot of the units that make up your convoy are actually lifted straight from the Warzone Earth; these include jets that create a force field, tanks packed with machine guns, rocket launching armoured vehicles as well as large, armoured behemoths that stride through their surroundings. Everything at your disposal has a rightful place here, and the game tells you exactly how they fit in. It’s good that your arsenal is varied, because the enemy doesn’t take to kindly to earthlings attempting to reclaim their home planet.
In terms of the levels, you’ll be battling aliens amidst the luscious jungles, on top of snowy mountains, and commanding your cavalcade through post-apocalyptic cities. They all look great. Textures are sharp, environments are packed with little details, and you can really picture what the locations would have looked like before the mass alien takeover. Anomaly 2 also sounds fantastic. The mechanical screech of huge machines trudging through snow, suspenseful music and crisp sound effects all add significantly to the overall atmosphere. Even with the campaign being relatively short at about five hours, the various visual delights more than make up for it.
Furthermore, there’s also a multiplayer mode. Personally, I’m not a fan of multiplayer, as it is usually means one of two things. It’s very good, and offers something entirely new, or it’s very bad, and only includes the option just for the sake of saying so. I don’t often find middle ground. In the case of Anomaly 2, it’s a huge success. Not only does the multiplayer bring something completely new and interesting to the table, but it is a prime example of what can be created with a bit of out the box thinking. Here, one player is put in control of the convoy, and the other in charge of the alien defences. Playing as the human led convoy is pretty much the same as playing single player but online, so it’s the alien side of things that really shines. You’ll have to constantly harvest resources and tactically deploy turrets, all whilst fending off those pesky humans. It isn’t often you get to see a situation from both sides, especially in games, so the ability to do so is fun and well executed.
In addition, the multiplayer matches are fast paced, requiring quite a bit of tactical thinking, and the scoring system is constantly moving in and out of your favour, so knowing who has the advantage is never completely apparent until the end. Depending on how you did, more maps, units and settings might unlock, which helps to keep online play interesting.
I have a feeling that multiplayer may go underappreciated, because it would occasionally take some time to connect, but hopefully a larger dedicated fanbase will come to appreciate what Anomaly 2 does here in terms of a completely unique idea.
In conclusion, whilst Anomaly 2’s campaign may feel short to some, it certainly entertains. 11 bit studios have redefined the tower defence genre, and given players the opportunity to experience something fun as well as fresh. Some may say that it is too like the original, but with the addition of a surprisingly great multiplayer and plenty of replay value, it’s definitely worth letting Anomaly 2 invade your hard drive.
Anomaly 2 is available on Steam for £11.99.