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Anomaly 2 (PC) Review

/ May 21st, 2013 No Comments

Anomaly 2
Anomaly 2

Anomaly 2 (PC)

Anomaly 2 is a real-time strategy game for the PC (Windows, Mac and Linux). The game utilizes the popular tower defense sub-genre and turns it on its head by putting players in control of the moving units, while the computer controls the towers. 11 bit studios developed and published the title. The studio’s prior work includes several iOS mobile titles such as Funky Smugglers and Sleepwalker’s Journey, as well as the Anomaly series. Anomaly 2 is a sequel to the refreshingly good Anomaly: Warzone Earth and the side-quel Anomaly: Korea. Its predecessor Anomaly: Warzone Earth was wildly popular receiving many awards and honors, and spanning several ports from PC to mobile to PS3 and Xbox 360. Can Anomaly 2 recapture the magic of the original or has the good will for the concept dried up?

Story

Earth is ravaged, a desolate wasteland covered in frost with freezing temperatures. The machines came one day and that was it. Quickly, the tin cans rebuffed all resistance and devastated the landscape.  The remaining human survivors were scattered and forced to form small wandering bands to scavenge for resources to live. Hope seemed lost. Yet there remained one final bastion of humanity’s endearing spirit in a small military outfit. The outfit, lead by Commander Ellen Bolt and Lieutenant Lynx, intend to find the scientists necessary to finish a weapon that will help reclaim the Earth from the machines. By completing the research on Project Shockwave, it is possible to destroy the machines for good. Now it is up to Lynx to lead the final remnants of human resistance across the globe to find the necessary parts to take the Earth back.

The story is nicely fleshed out, especially for a tower defense game. It takes place after the events of the previous Anomaly games and it is good to see 11 bit continue a singular saga of a beleaguered Earth at war with alien machines. The only issue with the narrative is that it is told only through communications, before and after a mission (with some minor interruptions during gameplay), with only talking character profiles. Anomaly 2 does a great job improving and enhancing the previous games’ elements, but the static nature of story telling is a bit disappointing. There is also a tendency at certain points for the characters to fall too neatly into stereotypes seen often in these military themed stories. That said, the aftermath of the machines winning and taking over Earth makes the stakes properly high because losing means the world is doomed. Plus, the game hinges on a choice and that is a refreshing story element for the game.

Gameplay

Anomaly 2

Tactical strikes, if only Anomaly 2 had Obama’s drone strikes.

Gameplay in Anomaly 2 will be familiar (in a sense) to any gamer who has played a tower defense. Except instead of building towers to maze and destroy enemies so they do not reach an arbitrary point on the other side of a map, players will take control of Lieutenant Lynx and be responsible for the units crawling through the maze. Lynx will plan the routes for units that will be the most beneficial and efficient for taking out enemy towers. These routes can be changed at any time by hitting ctrl or scrolling up or down on the mouse, then clicking on arrows to change the direction. Building units is done simply by pressing space and selecting the units, each of the 5 units can be upgraded three times. Rearranging units, in order to take advantage of an enemy tower’s strength or weaknesses, is also done by pressing space at any time. Each unit in Anomaly 2, in addition to be upgradable, can morph to a different form that confers them specific advantages for certain situations. This leads to a larger amount of strategy when moving through the missions, and the strategy is more fluid because units can morph at any time by either selecting it in the squad menu or double clicking the unit. For example, the assault hound can be used as a rapid fire unit or can morph into a hell hound that uses dual flamethrowers to attack. This allows the player to attack two towers crevices between buildings at the same time instead of the assault hound focusing only on one tower. Lynx also has abilities to help support his troops. The player has four abilities to choose from, these abilities can heal units, focus unit attention, or distract enemy towers. Deploying abilities is smooth and intuitive. There is a huge amount of depth to the gameplay and there is a refreshing sense of difficulty to the game (for those looking for more or less of a challenge, the game offers four modes of difficulty). The story mode offers a variety of different missions objectives that build upon the core gameplay elements to liven up the proceedings and keep gameplay fresh.

11 bit studios have included an additional multiplayer mode in Anomaly 2. In this mode, two players can face off against each other as either towers or units. The multiplayer is a bit tough to get into at first, but when players get the hang of each side’s particular strengths and weaknesses, the mode opens up. There is plenty of depth to explore in multiplayer and for diligent fans, a whole bunch of skill to learn and use when facing off against seasoned opponents. It is not the most robust multiplayer, but what it may lack in modes makes up for in how entertaining it is. There is a wealth of strategy to explore and try out in Anomaly 2’s multiplayer.

Graphics and Sound

Anomaly 2

I don’t like the look of those tendrils.

One of the most eye catching aspects of Anomaly 2 is that it is an extremely beautiful game. 11 bit studios has put plenty of work into the game to make sure that it looks amazing. Compared to Warzone Earth, Anomaly 2 is leaps ahead graphically. There is plenty of polish to how the environments look, and the variety to the different environments is admirable. The units and towers have a good amount of detail. When morphing units, the animation is smooth and looks good. Each character that speaks in the game features a great hand drawn character profile and that art style carries over to the loading screens before missions. It makes one wonder what a game using that style would look like. The animations for towers and effects is top notch. Sound wise, the game has an intense soundtrack that marries well with the game’s tone and story beats. The voice acting is solid, but there is a tendency for it to dip in quality due to some wonky dialogue.

Overall

Anomaly 2 does a superb job of making another solid reverse tower defense. It has a surprisingly fleshed out story, deep strategy gameplay, excellent visuals and solid sound. With an interesting take on multiplayer, there is something to explore even after finishing the game’s story mode. The only drawback is that while it improves upon prior efforts, it does not change the formula significantly. Anomaly 2 will probably not convert anyone who does not already enjoy tower defenses to the game’s charm, but for the faithful, there is plenty to like in the game.

ANOMALY 2 (PC) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall78%

GAMEPLAY8.5

The game features the same excellent gameplay that made Anomaly: Warzone Earth so addicting and refreshing. It adds new units and towers to the mix, but does not totally re-invent the core gameplay, this serves to enhance the strengths of the formula. The addition of multiplayer is where the game really tries something new. This mode will certainly attract plenty of attention. For players willing to invest the time, there is plenty of depth, strategy and fun to be had.

GRAPHICS8.5

The prior Anomaly games looked great, but Anomaly 2 amps up the production value. The game is gorgeous with improved models, textures and effects.

SOUND7

Anomaly 2 features some good soundtrack work with properly intense music for the last hurrah of humanity. The voice acting is solid, but there are points when the quality dips due to some clunky dialogue.

STORY7.5

The story is intriguing and fairly fleshed out for a tower defense. It is mainly told through communications before and after a mission featuring character images, which is an acceptable means of telling the story (for the genre). However, for a game that ups the ante in many other aspects of the Anomaly formula, they could have done more with how they delivered the story.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. Currently, he lives in Tustin, California. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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ANOMALY 2 (PC) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall78%

GAMEPLAY8.5

The game features the same excellent gameplay that made Anomaly: Warzone Earth so addicting and refreshing. It adds new units and towers to the mix, but does not totally re-invent the core gameplay, this serves to enhance the strengths of the formula. The addition of multiplayer is where the game really tries something new. This mode will certainly attract plenty of attention. For players willing to invest the time, there is plenty of depth, strategy and fun to be had.

GRAPHICS8.5

The prior Anomaly games looked great, but Anomaly 2 amps up the production value. The game is gorgeous with improved models, textures and effects.

SOUND7

Anomaly 2 features some good soundtrack work with properly intense music for the last hurrah of humanity. The voice acting is solid, but there are points when the quality dips due to some clunky dialogue.

STORY7.5

The story is intriguing and fairly fleshed out for a tower defense. It is mainly told through communications before and after a mission featuring character images, which is an acceptable means of telling the story (for the genre). However, for a game that ups the ante in many other aspects of the Anomaly formula, they could have done more with how they delivered the story.

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