Published on February 27th, 2014 | by Kristian Ivanov0
Anomaly: Warzone Earth HD Review
Tower defense games are quite popular on Android, and there is a good reason for that – they just work well on a touch-screen. The Anomaly series games however are reverse-tower defense, which works differently. The ones of you that have seen the PC versions of the games know that they have plenty to offer, including stellar graphics, good control and a real challenge…but I want to check out their Android counterparts…do they hold up? Well, why not have a look?
While Anomaly 2 has been out for a while now, I believe the original deserves a bit more attention, so I’ll talk about the sequel some other time.
For those of you that don’t know how tower defense works, let me give you a crash-course: you have a level (or if you prefer “map” or “location”) with places for towers to be built. These towers have different functions such as attack, slow-down, debuff etc., all with the general purpose to get rid of the creeps. Creeps are the attacking forces, which can also vary in types and function. The objective of most tower defense is to prevent the creeps from reaching a certain location (usually a certain number of times).
In Anomaly games however, instead of being the defense (tower builder), you’re the offense (creeps). Your objective is to get your creeps from the start to the finish, selecting the optimal path for them to use and destroying any towers you can in the process. Each tower you take down gives you some cash, which you can spend on more creeps, or upgrades for the ones you already have. There are also “sub-objectives” (optional things completionists would like). If you destroy all the enemy towers or beat the level without losing a unit, you’ll get a medal. There are three medal types (bronze, silver and gold) depending on how many towers are left and how many creeps you lost.
Some missions will require you to do some additional things, such as escort a specific unit somewhere on the map or destroy certain towers marked on the map. The game actually does a surprisingly good job with the phasing. Each new mission adds something different to keep you interested, such as a new creep type, new tower type, new ability or new objective.
One difference with the PC counterpart you’ll find right away is that there is no “commander” for you to control. Here, you just get an overhead view which you can drag like in any other tower defense game…but you still get the abilities from the PC version, you just place them directly instead of moving a commander and then placing them. I can’t say I played the PC version that much, so I can’t comment on a difference between the creep and tower variety, but I was told they’re the same number in the PC and Android versions.
Moving on to the design aspects, I have to say, 11bit Studios did a stellar job with this game. Being a mobile platform, you’d expect some more basic graphics back in the time it was released…but instead, we get a very detailed presentation, which even to this day looks impressive. Often you see tower defense games with detailed graphics, but usually those don’t differentiate well between creeps, terrain and UI, making it difficult to see, but Anomaly does it incredibly well.
Here I want to add two complains I have with the game. The first complain (a minor one, but still) I personally have is that if you zoom in as close as possible to the units, the models look static (like plastic models that are pushed), though this is hardly unnoticeable in the default zoom…and you wouldn’t want to use a camera that close to the ground anyway. The second one however, I consider more serious – there is no exist button. When you press the back button on your device, it’ll bring you back to your Android home-screen/app drawer, but the game will still be running in the background. This is not an issue for iOS devices, but for Android, it’s something developers need to pay attention to when posting their games.
Sound-wise, the game is on the same level as the PC version. I personally like it…not impressive, but definitely good enough. The more observant players that are familiar with the PC game will find that a lot of the dialog is ripped from the PC game and added here, which is not something I mind, but I believe should be mentioned.
Last thing I would like to comment is the story. It’s pretty much the same as the PC one (as far as I can tell), where aliens crash in Baghdad, then you’re sent to investigate and get rid of them. Don’t expect anything epic here, it’s as standard as it gets. Tower defense games are not known for deep story lines or epic moments with memorable characters, and Anomaly Warzone Earth is no exception…but that doesn’t mean it needs a great story to be a good game.
I believe the conclusion should be obvious enough – this is a really good game which I would recommend to anyone interested in reverse tower defense. It runs really smooth on pretty much any phone and tablet, it’s fun to play, and even after you’re done with the main story, you can test your skills in the Squad Assault mode (where you have to race against the clock to complete an objective). The only thing missing from Anomaly Warzone Earth HD is a multiplayer mode.
Summary: A fantastic reverse tower-defense game that will satisfy both casual and hardcore players for many hours.