A couple of years ago I sat down and played a game
called Anomaly: Warzone Earth. At the time, those folks that are better acquainted with the gaming vernacular were as impressed by the game as I was, but in some cases for a different reason: they were intrigued by the innovation of reversing the normal genre of “tower defense” (a term I was unfamiliar with at the time because I just play games, I don’t study them) and creating what they called a “reverse tower defense” game. Me, I couldn’t help wondering what would have been wrong with calling it a “tower offense” game, but like I said, I just play the things.
The game itself was quite good, having both excellent game play and production values far in excess of what one would normally expect to see in a “budget title,” which is another of those fancy gamer tags (yeah, yeah, I know -- I do know some of the lingo) that really just means “less than $60.” The premise of the game was the old stand-by of aliens invading the Earth and being met with determined resistance in the form of armored vehicles. There was a twist, though, in that the player wasn’t actually in one of the vehicles, but rather was running around outside virtually unprotected. The player was responsible for determining the route that the convoy took from point A to point B, and also was required to gather various items to assist or repair the vehicles.
11 bit studios has not spent the intervening years resting on the laurels. No, they have been busy working on Anomaly 2 which, believe it or not, they are now calling a Tower Offense RTS. +1 for my prescience. The sequel is set in 2018 (too close for comfort!) when the aliens decide to have another go at us. The basic game play has been carried over from the original game, albeit with some added sophistication and improved graphics. One of the more interesting aspects is the new ability to morph the mechs in the convoy to suit the current battle environment. For example, one of the mechs is very well suited to close in battles as you would find in a city environment. Those same mechs would be at a severe disadvantage in a more open battle space, so they can be morphed into a second variant that has longer range capabilities.
With added complexity comes added responsibility for the commander (you!) to deal with. Even in the original game, the player often had to balance competing demands and often struggled to make the right choices. With the additional burden of having to manage the current state of the mechs, the player can find that events are happening so rapidly that losses are inevitable. This is where the ‘S’ in ‘RTS’ comes into play. Route selection is important, as is the ability to quickly and correctly respond to changes in the environment. Even the selection of which mechs to put into any given convoy is a serious decision that offers nothing more than abject failure if the player doesn’t get it right.
Probably the biggest change, though, is the addition of a multiplayer component that allows Anomaly 2 to be both a tower offense and a tower defense game as one player command the humans while the other works with the aliens. That should be interesting.
Anomaly 2 is scheduled for release in June, 2013.
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