11 Bit Studios’ Anomaly: Warzone Earth has certainly seen success prior to its most recent PlayStation Network release. The iOS version was our iOS Game of 2011, and the game’s been released on PC, Mac and XBLA as well. The last stop on the console carousel is the PS3, but being last has its advantages with an added co-op mode.
For those who haven’t played the game before, a primer: Anomaly is a tower offense game that sees you take formations of tanks through a maze of alien turrets to reach the other side and accomplish objectives. You gather money to purchase and upgrade your forces, with extra health and firepower. You set the route you’ll follow, and can modify it at any time. It’s not just sit-back-and-go, though; you’re given powers to trigger to help through tough spots.
The four powers are best in different situations. You have a healing circle, a decoy that draws enemy attention in an area, a smokescreen to avoid detection and an air strike to level particularly nasty foes. Defeating towers gives you more of these (and more money), creating an incentive to take ’em down rather than just avoid them. While the mobile version of the game uses touch controls for these (a method we think works best), the PC and console versions put them on a “commander” character that you move around. He can take too much damage and die (temporarily), get stuck behind buildings and generally get caught up in one situation too far away from another to manage. It makes for a different-playing game out of necessity; it’s not better, but it works fine when you adjust your expectations of how capable you can be.
The PS3 version of the game brings all of the content from PC and 360, and does so with no noticeable technical issues. Anomaly has a strong aesthetic and enough detail to see it through. Generally, though, it gets out of the way so you can focus on not dying. Thanks for that, 11 Bit.
What this release brings to the table that the others don’t is a new local-only cooperative mode. In it, you have two commanders, splitting the duties: one handles the route and two powers, the other handles the troops and the other two powers. It’s not a full campaign, sadly; it’s a few maps of a wave-based mode that tests your endurance and ability to use your resources as intelligently as possible. Still, it’s worth checking out; the tedium is broken up a bit, since one player can upgrade and buy while the other re-routes between waves, and the toughest spots can be cleared with a double-speed power deployment. (The mode also lets the other player drop “boosts” to the powers it isn’t controlling; they do nothing on their own, but at least let some teamwork happen when the situation calls for a specific stratagem.)
If you haven’t played Anomaly: Warzone Earth, you need to, because it’s great. If you’re going to pick up a home version, this new PSN one has the most content. We still think the iPad experience is the ideal one, but regardless, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
Pros: Added local co-op mode, solid gameplay from other versions
Cons: Touch controls still better than “commander” ones, co-op is wave-based