Anomaly Warzone Earth might be one of the weirdest titles for a game in a long time – or one you can’t say after a few beers anyway, but despite a very successful release on PC, Mac and iOS in 2011, its now finally arrived on the Xbox LIVE Arcade!
Anomaly Warzone Earth is a real time strategy game, and before you shut off the page and think to yourself, “oh no, it’s one of them” because we all know exactly how BORING that genre of game can be at the best of times, but listen up – this has a something a little bit special – it’s a tower defence in reverse. So, the main objective is that you’re always on the attacking side in the position of offence, and being an Xbox LIVE Arcade title, it’s not over heavy on plot, nor in your face with CGI cut scenes to make traipsing around monotamus dull environments all that more interesting, and even more shocking because this might be one of the things to surprise you the most; it’s not even dull or boring!
I just said “…it’s not even dull or boring!” and it’s a real time strategy game – no wonder this has won awards. The developers 11 bit Studios have taken a clapped out mostly pc dominated game genre, flipped it reverse, mixed in a story about defending a near future earth from an Alien onslaught – and hey presto, a fresh feeling different approach with just about the perfect amount of strategy game-play for any person to handle. It’s like dropping in a fresh piece of lime in your lemonade, you don’t normally do it, but it makes a huge difference to something otherwise plain.
Within the game you take on the role of a Commander who must guide his units through many streets across some of the world’s major cities starting out in Baghdad. As best described as a ‘lite’ version of an RTS, your game play style consists of how to best manage your weaponry and monetary resources as well as your planned route of attack on some of the meanest deadliest turrets planted through-out various locations. Naturally as you might expect, the deeper into the story you plough, the harder and stronger different forms of sci-fi tech are out to diminish your built up army of armoured units, and then comes that moment when you have to put your brain into gear. You have to think about your approach to the Alien tower turrets and how to guide your units from one section of the maze-like streets to another section. Even when you have carefully constructed your path in tactical view mode ( a form of pause screen with a map ) trying to avoid as many of the turrets as you can, to get to the end zone as best as possible – the game will screw you over as something alien form will randomly drop in your path where you then have to rethink your strategy and plan a whole new route.
As the Commander you are on foot with the ability to free-roam, and you do not have direct control over your units who can only drive along the streets. You will lead tanks, mobile missile launchers, Power Field Generators, and a whole host of heavily armoured vehicle – your job is to simply guide them through the streets and assist with the need to keep a constant eye on your Abilities to deploy a means to repair and protect your squad when it is most needed. Because Abilities are limited and come in the form of drops scattered throughout the environments you can’t use them willy-nilly as later down the road you’ll realise if you had better managed your resources you could have gotten through a path much easier. You get to generate health, drop smoke screens and even decoys to trick the Alien turrets into shooting their junk all over that instead of your squad units. It’s very much do or die as from the on-set you are faced with some really intense moments where it’s all about trial and error. Some turrets will fire a constant stream of bullets whilst other slow moving ones will fire their cannon fired kinetic energy to cause severe damage. As previously mentioned, it’s all about tactics and approach, using the right given resources available at the best time to cause as little damage to your units; whilst guiding them from one end of an environment to another. As you progress, thanks to a means to earn money within the game by collecting Carusaurum – we couldn’t say that drunk either, you get to earn yourself upgrades to units on the road and additional resources to build up you army.
You’re one very brave Commander!
Thankfully being best described by ourselves again as a ‘lite’ RTS it’s not a brain masher on the controls as other than move your Commander around the map, everything else is so intuitive because selecting your abilities and chosen path for your squad units is very simplistic. When those intense moments hit it is not a matter of oh my god, what button does what again – it’s a simple tap and selection choice which is both fast and non-complex to lessen the thought process when you are constantly being bombarded by waves of bullets and lasers!
Whilst I have only talked about the positives I bet you couldn’t guess in a million years what I would pick for the negatives if you didn’t peruse your eyes a little lower? It does have a very bad negative and that is the voice over guy! The cheesy, downright dreadful and obviously fake approach to entering Alien engulfed territory is embarrassing. Giving his best impression of a forceful missionary – he doesn’t belong. Either he has been deliberately added in for comedic purposes or wanted a break from voicing Worms! Moaning about a voice might sound petty, but when you can clearly hear someone’s best attempt to provide action and drama in an intense setting, but it just isn’t right… the mute button comes in handy. It’s not just the main voice over either, it’s all of them.
Exclusively on the Xbox 360 come six Tactical Trials levels that will test your puzzle-solving skills in the Anomaly world. This is something extra to do after you have completed a lengthy campaign, and completely changes the view point from gritty war torn scenes into a futuristic arcade style game in its own right. It’s something extra, but a mode you could quite easily live without.
A better form of game aside from the campaign is the unlockable Tokyo Raid and Baghdad Mayhem survival games where this is Anomaly’s own take on Horde. You get to pound the streets of Baghdad and Tokyo whilst trying to take out as many Alien turrets as humanly possible as well as earn those much needed Abilities to ensure you last that little bit longer. A bit of a test of your patience, but so much fun all the same – you can’t help but go back in for more!
Visually as an Arcade game with a top-down view over your whole environment, your worlds look very miniature, but filled amazing visual effects and explosions to compliment the settings. As a near futuristic earth that is being invaded by Aliens who are setting up their sci-fi tech to kill us all, it’s how you might actually imagine the scene.
Anomaly Warzone Earth is game of surprises, intensity and action packed chapters all neatly packaged for 800 MS Points ! How amazing “Woohoo Awesome” is that some of our readers might say? An enjoyable game that will undoubtedly leave you feeling it’s been money well spent – a rare cheap and cheerful gem that will lead you a stray from even your most well-played action games.
Give in to the temptation – download the demo today!