Anomaly 2 Review

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"Anomaly 2 puts players on the opposite end of the field, as you control the creep wave whose goal it is to run the gauntlet of defense towers."

Anomaly 2 is a recently released tower defense game that, like our recently reviewed Sanctum 2, turns convention on its head in favor of a less traditional approach to the genre. Anomaly 2 puts players on the opposite end of the field, as you control the creep wave whose goal it is to run the gauntlet of defense towers. But, does Anomaly 2 offer a thoughtful and well-designed reversal of the traditional tower defense experience?

Simply put, yes it does. The game is split into different components. There is a single player campaign and a multiplayer mode. The single player campaign has players taking control of the remnants of a battered and scattered human defense force with the ultimate goal of driving back the alien forces that have been occupying Earth for quite some years. The campaign is carried out over missions that have various objectives. You start the mission by purchasing a number of automated mech and tank-like military machines. Since this is a tower defense game, your units may only travel on predetermined paths; so, your next order of business is determining the path your machines will take to accomplish the mission parameters. Once you’ve determined a path, your units begin moving, all the while destroying towers. Players also have a commander unit that is available to them in every mission. The commander unit is used to run around the map and pick up certain buffs that destroyed towers leave behind. These buffs allow the commander to heal units, place a beacon that will draw enemy tower fire away from your units, and so on. As your units progress through the map, resources can be picked up to spend on new machines to add to your creep wave, or resources can be spent to upgrade existing units.


"Anomaly 2 is really something special. It’s fast-paced and many of the missions require twitch-reflexes to navigate successfully."

It may sound like Anomaly 2 is a rather slow-paced affair, but it isn’t. Towers are placed in such a way that your creep units rarely, if ever, get respite from battle. Creep units also lose health very quickly, and die in seconds if you’re not paying attention with your commander units and laying down the proper buffs at exactly the right moment. In fact, therein lies Anomaly 2’s brilliant reversal of design. The most impressive thing about this game is how well it combines strategy and action. The gap between the two is instantly closed. Whereas most games would stop there, Anomaly 2 still requires you to engage the strategy as it is being carried out. Within the real-time strategy genre such a thing is expected, but the seamlessness with which the strategy element is implemented into Anomaly 2—a tower defense game—is really something special. It’s fast-paced and many of the missions require twitch-reflexes to navigate successfully.  


"Multiplayer component aside, Anomaly 2 is great fun, and an unique experience that you shouldn’t pass up if you have a PC."

The other component is the multiplayer. This is where things get a little rockier. Multiplayer matches are won by being the first to reach 1,000 points or the first player to outscore the other by 500 points. The multiplayer is carried out over only five maps, so it gets repetitive fast. The multiplayer also has some horrific balancing issues. If you happen to be playing as the commander unit and have control of the creep wave, you’re pretty much guaranteed to win as long as you pay attention and heal your units. The creep units are quite simply too powerful when playing against a tower force controlled by a human opponent. On the other hand, it’s extremely difficult to win playing as the towers. 

The only way I was ever able to win as a tower player was having my opponent make a big mistake, such as a missed heal on units. If the creep wave player isn’t paying attention, the towers obliterate everything that happens upon them. Couple the awful balance with a tutorial that doesn’t explain everything fully and a steep learning curve, and you can see how the multiplayer is less than adequate. It’s rubbish and for some it will probably prove to be simply unplayable. Hopefully, the developer takes a good long look at what they could do to make the multiplayer balanced, because I really think they could be on to something special if they can make it work. Multiplayer component aside, Anomaly 2 is great fun, and an unique experience that you shouldn’t pass up if you have a PC. It turns the tower defense genre on its head with a well-thought out and well-designed reversal of tradition that puts players on the other side of the action. 

Review by: Jon Hamlin | Reviewed on: PC

8

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