Review: “Anomaly: Warzone Earth” (XBLA)

TITLE: “Anomaly: Warzone Earth”

DEVELOPER: 11 Bit Studios

GENRE: Real-Time Strategy/Tower Offense

PLATFORM: XBox Live Arcade (XBox 360)

RATING: Everyone (10+)

RELEASE DATE: April 6, 2012

The Real-Time Strategy genre is certainly a large and varied one, and one sub-series of it that seems to be immensely popular lately is the “Tower Defense” genre.  Yet, it is somewhat rare that we get to see the other side of the coin – “Tower Offense.”  Well, developer 11 Bit Games has come to remedy that in the form of “Anomaly: Warzone Earth” for the XBox Live Arcade (and other various platforms).

To sweeten the deal even more, this game is far from your typical fantasy or medieval-based tower defense game.  Instead, “Anomaly: Warzone Earth” is set less than a decade from now in a time when a meteorite (which turns out to be a piece of an alien spaceship) enters the atmosphere and breaks into two parts – one landing in Baghdad and the other in Japan.  Thus, rather than being a game about defense, Anomaly has you taking control of the 14th Platoon, an elite military unit whose responsibility it is to encroach into enemy territory (specifically the area inside the dome around the meteor), rescue civilians, and put a stop to the alien threat.

In many ways, the game is quite simple.  Movement is done in a path-like system rather than grids, and your units move automatically.  Essentially, you must decide, on the fly, what the best path is to bring your unit to whatever your target goal is.  You can take risks and go through areas swarming with enemy units and guns or you can try and sneak around enemy units.  Sometimes this pays off while other times the path that seemed less dangerous proves to have pop-up units that make it far worse.  Your commander, however, can walk anywhere on the map.  This is necessary in order to pick up supplies dropped by support teams or to scout out and interact with special objects.  As you build up funds you can upgrade existing units or add more units to your team.

The only major gripe I had about this game was a small oversight in the story.  During the introductory sequence, the date on the video camera clearly indicates that it is 10/12/2020, but the narrator soon says that it is 2018.  A minor complaint in the end, but I would have preferred for the story to have had no snags like that.  Still, the story otherwise is well-done and features excellent voice acting and narration.

This game has met with critical acclaim from several other sites, and it is clear why they think very highly of it.  It certainly is one of the better, if not best, games available via the XBox Live Arcade.  Its simplistic nature is going to go one of two ways – it either will really entertain you due to how easy it is to jump in and go or it will be a bit off-putting to those looking for a more in-depth game.  So, in the end, I find this game to be quite fun but certainly more suited to those of a casual gaming taste (which is understandable as this was also released on various mobile devices).

FINAL SCORE: 8.5 

“Fun – This game is sure to please (especially casual gamers)!”

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