Anomaly 2 reviewed: Refreshingly clever strategy is back

Anomaly 2

By on May 20, 2013 at 10:16 am

When I played Anomaly: Warzone Earth a couple of years ago, it was a refreshingly different take on the tower defense genre, but one that seemed almost more like a proof-of-concept. Now, with Anomaly 2, this reverse-tower-defense concept has been polished up and expanded into a well-developed new iteration that offers a number of neat new twists on the idea. This includes a multiplayer mode that is the real selling-point of the sequel, but which might struggle to find a stable player-base.

Anomaly 2’s single-player campaign is a marked improvement on that of the first game, even if the story remains somewhat perfunctory and almost superfluous. It’s well-structured for teaching you all about the game’s approach to tower defense, and mixes in the new elements so you won’t be bored if you’ve played the first game. The most prominent of these new elements is that almost every unit can transform, switching between two modes with different characteristics and functions.

This is what you’ll devote most of your attention to during the campaign, making sure your convoy of units is appropriately configured for the threats it faces, i.e. switching long-range units with a narrow arc of fire to shorter-ranged modes that can cover every angle. This focus on configuration extends to a much greater emphasis on the marching order of your convoy than the first game’s campaign had. New enemies necessitate switching fast-firing units to the back of your convoy, to let the slow-firing heavy-hitters pound away at them, or vice-versa.

Selecting your route through the alien-infested levels was the meat of the first game — but in Anomaly 2, it’s just the basic level of tactical gameplay. It all adds up to a very satisfying and engrossing tactical experience, but it’s not without its flaws.

For example, certain missions punish sub-optimal route selection more harshly than others, and some require a very specific mix of units and mode-selection for success. This obviously reduces opportunities for players to take their own approach, rather than searching for the one correct way to tackle a situation.

Multiplayer is where Anomaly 2 really shines, and where its innovation is strongest. This is asymmetric multiplayer, with one player placing turrets that the other must deal with as their convoy travels to their goal. It’s a really compelling multiplayer experience, but it’s also a bit complicated to pick up, even if both players have finished the singleplayer campaign. Given that multiplayer games live and die on the size of their player-base, this complexity barrier might make it hard for Anomaly 2 to maintain enough players to provide a satisfying and well-developed multiplayer scene. This would be a shame, because it’s a game that’s really worth learning.

Anomaly 2 is definitely worth picking up if you enjoyed the first game. If you missed the first game, or found it lacking in complexity, Anomaly 2 might hit the sweet spot for you. And if you can get together with some mates, then you’re in for a great time with the multiplayer.

Good:

  • Expands the original’s mechanics
  • Well-structured singleplayer campaign
  • Excellent and innovative multiplayer

Bad:

  • Limited range of choices in certain campaign missions
  • Multiplayer takes a little work to get into

Anomaly 2 is available for $14.99 on Steam. If you already own Anomaly: Warzone Earth, you’ll get 10% off the purchase price before May 31st.

This review copy was supplied by the developer.

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