In 2011, 11 bit studios released a game that completely defied the mechanics of the traditional tower defense game. Anomaly: Warzone Earth gave the genre a breath of fresh air by flipping the role and having the players go on the offensive. After a successful debut on other platforms, 11 bit studios has decided to bring the sequel, Anomaly 2, to the PlayStation 4.
In Anomaly 2 you assume the role of First Lieutenant Simon Lynx. The story picks up after the events of the previous game as the humans continue to wage battle with the aliens. The humans have developed a superweapon called Project Shockwave and plan on using it to finally end the long lasting war against their enemies. The story didn't necessarily amaze me but I was satisfied that there WAS a story, unlike other tower defense games I've played. The cutscenes helped transition to the chapters and the voice acting is pretty solid. Gameplay, on the other hand, has amazed me.
One of Anomaly 2's biggest changes is the ability to have each unit morph to become an alternate version of themselves. Each unit can morph any time you choose, which allows them to switch out abilities that would properly fit the situation you are in. As you progress further in the 14 chapter campaign you will unlock newer units that may not necessarily be stronger, but have different advantages. For example, some units have the ability to give your convoy an extra shield of health while others may have the ability to fire weapons further.
The differences and capabilities of each unit is very diverse and adds a ton of strategy when it comes to selecting the convoy you want to traverse the maps with. Power ups also prove to be a very important factor for victory. Destroying alien towers will award you power ups that can be used against them. I found all of these improvements forced me to strategize differently depending on what the aliens had prepared for me on each chapter. The morphing ability easily is one of my favorite additions to the series.
The scale and scope of this entry triumphs previous games by far. The maps are huge and extremely polished and balanced. I was constantly having to go back to the drawing board to think of new strategies for every chapter. Complacency is a quick way to being decimated by the aliens. A few times I got too comfortable with my convoy, just to be destroyed when the aliens had towers that played on my weaknesses. Being diverse in creating your convoy is key to victory because the AI is smart and incredibly balanced. Exploiting weakness will win over brute force every time.
Similar to the humans, the aliens are equipped with a variety of unique towers that can counter and expose a convoy that isn't perfectly balanced. The enemies are preset around the map and before the chapter starts you are allowed to map your route so that you can go down a path that you believe your convoy is prepared for. Graphically, Anomaly 2 impresses as well. The sheer amount of action that takes place on the screen sometimes can overwhelm. Unfortunately, I would occasionally get caught up in just watching how great the visuals and physics were in the battle instead of commanding it which eventually led to restarting the chapter.
At the end of each chapter you are awarded a score based on how well you played. This is a great way to compare your skills to the rest of the world and your friends for bragging rights. However the ultimate bragging rights will come if you become a skilled player at the game's unique multiplayer portion.
Multiplayer is a different beast and demands that you use every skillset you have at your disposal. You can either be the attackers, which play out similar to the single-player campaign, or you can play as the defenders, which is a total different experience. You will have to strategically place your towers around the map and monitor the battle as your opponent attempts to destroy you. The competitiveness of the multiplayer makes it a very deep experience that has a ton of replay value. Even with the solid campaign I would argue that the multiplayer is the star of the show.
11 bit studios continues to prove that a little innovation can go a long way. Anomaly 2 capitalizes on what made its predecessor so great by improving on an already unique take on the genre, adding great visuals, and a cleverly crafted competitive multiplayer that tower defense fans will surely enjoy.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09