Where Battle: LA meets Cowboy & Aliens.
The beauty of strategy games force you to think of how to defeat the enemy in multiple ways whether it’s selecting another route to flank or attack head on, picking which unit to rush first, or choosing the type of defense you should put more expenses into when upgrading. Typically, tower defense games consist of strategically placing towers which attack hostiles before they destroy your base. However, Anomaly Warzone Earth takes a different approach than most games in the genre, where you control units through the battlefield either evading or attacking enemy towers, essentially calling it “tower offense” instead.
Tower defense fanatics may disapprove, but surprisingly this different concept works. Though you have limited control over your transport and attack units, you do control the Commander: a suited little guy, who has regenerating shields and is responsible for planning routes, positioning units in the line, and deploying abilities.
You’re free to roam around the map, but if you don’t stick to your squad, they have a higher chance of being destroyed. Units and upgrades cost you, and you’re only given an allotted amount of money when a mission begins. But there are also money caches spread throughout the map, called carusaurum, and is only picked up when your unit shoots at it as they pass by. Abilities don’t cost anything and can only be retrieved when destroying an enemy, so you won’t know which type of ability you’ll get; they include repair, smokescreen, decoys, and airstrikes. Each has limited range, so as the Commander, you must remain close to your unit or sneak up behind the enemy for your chosen ability to be the most effective.
Positioning units, deploying abilities, and picking your routes pull up a different screen, so you can execute your choices, but it does interrupt gameplay. Players may wish for a smoother transition, though the pause from the chaos on the battlefield is welcome as well. And trust me, there will be chaos. There are fourteen missions in total and the mission’s length increases in each level as you progress.
You also encounter more difficult enemies to fight against. The Behemoths are the only ones I try to avoid. They deal great damage, but are slow when turning to attack you, giving a short window to deploy one or multiple abilities. Other enemies slow your unit down or even hack your unit, so they attack the Commander, if within range. The amount of different enemies makes you consider or reconsider which route to take and there is no such thing as a safe route, since there are constant surprises thrown your way.
Objectives vary, from retrieving transport upgrades, destroying energy field generators, and escorting allies, just to name a few. One aspect of the game that becomes dull is the layout design, giving a repetitious feel despite the variety in enemies and objectives.
On top of that is the ho-hum story. An alien race has invaded the most populated cities—in this case, Tokyo and Baghdad—and you, the Commander, and your squad, the 14th platoon, is ordered to investigate anomalies that are interfering with communications. The storyline is mediocre, but ties everything together even though some corny lines may encourage you to skip scenes.
As you complete levels, you unlock more modes to play, like fighting through waves of enemies and a tactical mode that challenges you. These take the form of taking one-way routes, being forced to get additional units around the map instead of buying them, and so on, making this one game worth playing again.
The layout design and storyline certainly does not short Anomaly Warzone Earth’s satisfying gameplay. It is a strategy game through and through regardless of what kind of tower game it should be. Introduced initially on PC/Mac and touchscreen devices, Anomaly Warzone Earth does just fine on console and won’t disappoint newcomers to the title or tower defense fanatics.