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REVIEW – Anomaly: Warzone Earth

A strategy game with tower defense elements and an engaging story? Yes, please.

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Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a new real-time strategy game making its console debut on the Xbox 360. The game has already seen release on PC and portable devices. Garnering solid reviews on these systems, great reviews on the Xbox could arguably give the game even more box office to celebrate. I’m here to report that the developers at 11 Bit Studios should have a whole new pile of cash to start counting.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a top-down strategy game that plays like a tower defense game except the player is on the offense rather than defense. As an alien force has taken over Baghdad and Tokyo, you’ll take an international force through the streets to eliminate the alien invaders. Just like in a normal tower defense, you are provided with a set of units to create a customized offense or rescue squad. While the options for your units aren’t that varied or expansive, there’s enough variety to make surviving each level a worthy challenge.

I found the gameplay to be reminiscent of the best tower defense games I’ve previously played. The controls are smooth, the time crunch is challenging but not overwhelming, and the modifiers saved the day many times. It took me maybe 15 minutes to completely figure out how to play the game but it took multiple play throughs to feel that I mastered it. I didn’t spend too much time on the harder difficulties, but I’m sure they’ll provide plenty of replay value for the hardened tower defense fan.

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With that said, the actual main storyline might be a bit shorter than I expected. Fortunately, the game is only 800 points and the brevity of the story isn’t that big of a problem. With the added Mayhem modes there is enough here to justify the $10 price tag, but had the game been priced a bit higher I wouldn’t have been so nice.

The real gem hidden within this game is the storytelling. The alien invasion of Baghdad and Tokyo has a unique flare to it that kept me intrigued from start to finish. While the acting is constrained to use of voiceovers, the work here is well above average for the format. Most XBLA titles seem to be focused more on gameplay than storytelling and that’s just not the case here. I really had a blast following this story and I hope there’s more to tell with this conflict.

In the end, I found Anomaly: Warzone Earth to be a hell of a good surprise. I’d never heard of the game before the review codes went out and I couldn’t put the game down. It’s a great variation on tower defense and well worth your time. I had more fun playing this game than I have some full-priced $60 titles.

9


Full Disclosure: CraveOnline received 1 advanced copy of Anomaly: Warzone Earth for the Xbox 360 from Evolve on behalf of 11 bit Studios. We were held to the embargo date of April 6, 2012, at 12:01am PDT. Before starting our review, we played every game mode available and completed 80% of the main storyline.