By: Jeff Cater
A few years ago, 11bit Studios turned the tower-defense game upside down with their release of Anomaly. Now a sequel has been primed, and the earth again finds itself in a desolate pit of trouble. Anomaly 2 sets the player with the task of moving a convoy, negotiating the various obstacles and enemies in your path, and then forging a path of revenge for the human race.
Anomaly 2 is an incredibly easy game to pick up and play. A few short tutorial missions will ease you into the control system, which is highly dependent on your cursor accuracy and response time. You may move your commander about the battlefield with the left stick, but directly engaging in combat is done by the vehicles in your charge.
Selecting your power can be done with either the X button, which brings up a four-sided selection of your powers, or by using the d-pad where each power corresponds to a direction identical to the X button sub-menu. Using the d-pad is the way to go here — using X can lead to inaccurate and mistaken ability placement due to having to tilt the stick while selecting, which results in your character moving ever-so-slightly out of place.
Thankfully, being given two options in regards of power utilization renders the issue above meaningless. The in-game menu system can take a little bit to adjust to, but it later proves easy and attractive.
The journey of Anomaly 2 takes you all over the northern American countries. Unfortunately, due to the events of this game and its predecessor, most of the world lies beneath sheets of ice and fields of snow. The game is played from an overhead isometric perspective, which is a great way to scope out the barren but familiar landscapes; crystalline ice structures jut out from the ground and buildings look as though they will soon collapse due to the sheer weight of this extended winter.
Unit animation is well done and engaging as well. Most of your units can transform into alternate versions depending on which tactics are being called upon, and running from the back to the front of your convoy to switch it up is fun to do and watch. The enemy menace is truly that: menacing. They’ve got a sleek, reptilian-robot look that is both scary and eerily organic.
The soundtrack does a fine job of drumming up the drama, but it goes largely unnoticed due to the mass amount of action on-screen and all of the other sounds that come flying out of your speakers. Explosions and weapons sound full and chunky, which provides an enhanced level of engagement. Voice work ranges from spot on to embarrassing, but the game is packed with so much to do that you’re unlikely to even notice.
Anomaly 2 is a fun little package. Through the battered eyes of some of the last humans, you must guide your commander through various fields of battle while ensuring the survival of your convoy. The only unit you directly control is the Commander, but given that title he actually has some pretty nifty skills such as pulling up a tactical map to plan a route or repairing/upgrading units on the fly for a coming battle.
A tactical map shows your current path, which can be changed at any intersection. As such, careful planning and route revision are often a must during single player, and they’re absolutely necessary in multiplayer. Someone looking at this game without playing it might be confused about the addition of multiplayer to a tower defense title, but it actuality works very well.
One player will be setting a path for their convoy to embark on while the other player starts to place towers around the map. Each team has a different method for achieving victory as well: the convoy must destroy enemy generators scattered about the map, whereas the defensive player can either eliminate the convoy or win by collecting enough resources via building Harvester towers.
Matches can swing wildly, and a secure victory really might not be as secure as you think because while you were pounding away at a certain section, your opponent could have possibly (and very likely) buffed up the portion of the map where your next advance would be. That being said, the game has a brutal online representation and fans of the tower defense genre will be pleased to see a truly unique and fun multiplayer experience.
Anomaly 2 not only serves as a fun sequel but a true advance in the genre. Sure, many of the units are identical to the first game, but the refinement of their established system and addition of a truly fun multiplayer should be more than enough to bring fans of the original back while simultaneously attracting new players. That, and the fact you’d be hard pressed to find a game at this price point that contains even a fraction of the fun as Anomaly 2.