Anomaly Warzone Earth review (XBLA)
Anomaly Warzone Earth was an amazing game when it debuted on Steam last year. It took the tired tower defense formula, and literally flipped it upside down. No more were you in charge of placing down defenses to take down pesky enemies trying to get into your base. Instead it was up to you to build a convoy of units in order to survive the onslaught of defensive towers. The game then managed to get a decent port to iOS, though it did remove your main playable commander, in favor of just touch based controls to pick up power-ups.
Anomaly is back however, and this time more akin to its Steam counterpart. You play as the commander of the 14th platoon who is sent into Baghdad and Tokyo in order to investigate 'anomalies' that are interfering with satellite signals. Of course sending a lone commander into the fray is mostly suicide, which is why you're given the ability to build up your convoy with various offensive and defensive vehicles that will help enable you to progress further and further into enemy territory.
Even though Anomaly is a backwards tower defense, some of the same rules still apply. You are able to strategically place your vehicles in the convoy depending on defense and offense, since most of the more powerful vehicles tend to have lower health, they should be protected by vehicles that can withstand damage. Similarly you can upgrade each vehicle to withstand more damage or do more damage. If you're well versed in the tower defense genre, you will ease into Anomaly fairly quickly.
That isn't to say Anomaly isn't still entirely original, and it makes a great transition to XBLA. If you're worried about the controls, you can rest easy, as this is one of the more better transitions from PC to console. You have direct control of the commander as you run around the map, picking up power ups and placing vehicles into your convoy.
The structure of the game is simple. You start out with your tactical map, plotting your route from start to finish. Sometimes it's better to take the longer/harder route, since it includes some extra cash pick-ups. Often times you'll also have to alter your route mid level. You then build up your convoy and set off trying to defend it from various towers. Along the way you'll pick up various power-ups such as health, a decoy, air strike or smoke screen which all help in different ways. Throwing down health will enable all vehicles to pass through it to get healed, while a decoy will make towers shoot at it, so you can breeze by them and take them out with minimal damage. These power-ups are a necessity, as the game can get quite brutal with difficulty, meaning you might be replaying some of the later levels multiple times, if you're not careful.
The game still looks just as great as it did on the PC, and dare I say it's a better experience playing it on a big screen HDTV. If you own any of the previous iterations of Anomaly and are wondering whether you should consider giving the XBLA version a download, it does include an extra mode called Tactical Trials which plays out like a set of VR missions, complete with wireframe levels and all. Is this mode worth a rebuy? Not at all. For those who have yet to try this backwards tower defense game however, this is absolutely the definitive version however.
Anomaly Warzone Earth was a refreshing take on the tower defense genre, which offered something totally unique to players, all the while having a familiar feel to it that TD veterans could appreciate. Like I stated before, if you already own the game on PC or iOS, you will find all the same content here, except for the added Tactical Trials, however if you're still uninitiated in the art of tower offense, there is no better place to start than here.