Last year’s PC hit has finally made its way to Xbox LIVE Arcade. The tower-defense-with-a-twist title took PCs by storm last year, garnering both critical and commercial love (and it has also made an appearance on mobile devices). Now that the console crowd is getting a look, is it worthy of its alternate versions? In a word, yes...
And the reason why is simple: It’s pretty much identical. One of the biggest concerns about PC ports are the controls, as adapting the mouse/keyboard combo to a controller can be a difficult prospect for some games. But here, developer 11 bit Studios had designed Anomaly Warzone from the ground up with the controller in mind, so making the jump to consoles wasn’t a terrible stretch. Some minor adjustments have been made though, and it changes the feel just a bit.
"Porting over to a console had no adverse affect - short of the lower res visuals - making this one of those ‘must own’ games for any console tower defense fan."
For those that didn’t get a chance to check out one of the previous iterations of the game, essentially Anomaly Warzone Earth is a backward tower defense game - i.e. a Tower Offense game. Instead of the traditional placing of towers to defend against an incoming horde on-rails, the roles are reversed. An anomaly of extraterrestrial origin, has landed in cities around the globe - from Bangkok to Tokyo. You, as the Commander, will lead a squad of vehicles into the warzone to gain control of the area once again. Defending the area are various towers, and while your route through the area is on-rails, you do have a measure of control by planning directional changes on the map at each intersection. It’s a clever concept, putting you on the other side of the tower defense equation, and it adds a whole new spin to the genre.
You aren’t in control of a large horde, as is typical for the genre, instead you only have six slots for your squad deployment (which can be filled with units light and heavy units, as well as some special ones like a mobile shield generator). Supplementing your strength, the Commander can upgrade the vehicles, as well as having access to different support powers such as the ability to heal or toss out a smoke screen. This creates a level of micromanagement when guiding your squad through the area, especially now, as the console version gives you direct control over your Commander. You won’t stray far from your team though, the need for the Commander’s support abilities is almost constant. There’s multiple difficulty levels, but even at the easiest setting, you won’t be able to set your team on their path and forget about them.
Should you start needing a change of pace from the story campaign, there’s a few other options included in the package. First is Squad Assault, a sort of mini-horde mode. It’s only a few missions long, but it allows for a nice shift in gears for a bit. On top of that, there’s a new mode that the PC version didn’t have. Called Tactical Trials, it’s a puzzle version of the game, set in VR. Coming in at roughly twice the size of the Squad Assault mode, Tactical Trials will challenge even the most stout Anomaly vets. Some maps will start you with no abilities at all, while others may be filled with one-way streets, making each command decision incredibly important. One early mistake can cost you the entire map.
Visually the game the same as its alternate versions, although the drop in resolution didn’t do it any favors. My biggest complaint sits firmly with the bland color palette. The environments are not terribly detailed, but there’s little doubt that these cities have seen their share of battle. With that said, the graphics as a whole won’t set any new standards, but they won’t hurt your eyes either. The UI is basic, and complements the intuitive controls; with movements handled by the sticks, plus three different buttons depending on if you want to control your route, manipulate your squad, or lay out some of your support abilities.
In all, Anomaly Warzone Earth is a fantastic entry in the genre, which is not surprising as it’s virtually a carbon copy of the well received PC version. For the same price, you get the core game, and an extra mode that will challenge even the best players. Porting over to a console had no adverse affect - short of the lower res visuals - making this one of those ‘must own’ games for any console tower defense fan. Although, I can’t say the new mode is enough to warrant a second purchase, especially if you prefer playing on PC. But if you are a console player, and have a hankering for a new take on the genre, this will be 800 MP well spent.
Release date : 2012-04-06
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Developer : 11 Bit Studio
Gameplay : Tower Defense
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