Anomaly 2 Review
Every once in awhile a strategy game comes along that just engulfs you in the experience. Anomaly 2 is one such game with its blend of easy to learn strategy, challenging gameplay, and great visuals. A lot of tower defense games tend to feel the same, but Anomaly 2 feels unique and satisfying with every mission you complete. It does a great job of making each of the missions in the game feel completely different from one another, and they slowly introduce new units and abilities for the player as well as new enemy types. Despite the fact that the storyline is very typical in the science fiction realm - aliens invade which turns the world into turmoil and the military must destroy them for the good of mankind - it still matches the tone of the game and doesn't take away from it.
Strategy isn't always for everyone, but it felt like Anomaly 2 nailed it. You play as the attackers in this tower defense game, and 11 bit studios did a great job of making the game easy to learn. One of the best things about this game is how the gameplay always builds upon itself. You start off simple with a few units and a few commander abilities to fight a few enemy types, but with each mission it ramps up everything. This is a great way to help the player grasp all the new information as the game goes along, and makes each mission feel unique. Every unit has two modes as well, so that you can quickly change your strategy on the fly when running across different enemies. For example the Assault Hound is a unit that charges up and gets more powerful the longer it shoots at targets, but it can morph into the Hell Hound which has dual flamethrowers so that it can hit multiple enemies at once. Knowing this is crucial because once you get deeper into the game you will fight a larger variety of foes.
Not only is Anomaly 2 great for strategy, but the game is absolutely stunning. The environments look both detailed yet rundown with a post apocalyptic feel. You start off in North America where it has become a winter wonderland, and cities have crumbled to the ground. This contrasts with what you see in the second half of the campaign as South America is full of lush, detailed jungles that look absolutely gorgeous. They accomplish this and I never once had any issues running the game on middle of the road hardware. You also have top notch sound design to match these differing environments which helps bring them to life.
With all the great things I can say about this game, the star of the show is definitely the campaign. While the story is more or less typical, the actual missions are well thought out and fun to play. Each mission feels unique as Anomaly 2 does a good job of changing things up with each one. Early on, it's just a slight change where you will get an extra unit or a different enemy but then they become almost completely different games, One of the levels has you taking down towers while also defending a tower as waves of enemies are built around you. It is hectic and chaotic, but it makes you take advantage of all the strategies you've learned along the way. This is completely different from a later level that has you redirecting a signal around the map to multiple towers so that you can ultimately send out a signal to help in your fight against the big bad. When you move the laser around you can also stun enemies with it, so it adds an additional strategy to that particular mission. It's the little things like this that make Anomaly 2 stand out and makes you want to continue playing to see how the next mission will be different. This is all jam-packed into about a 10 hour campaign with a lot of replay value if you want to tackle higher difficulties, go for the medals, or earn achievements. The story is pretty lackluster and the game tried to tack on a moral choice in the very last mission, but you probably won't notice since you'll be having too much fun playing the game. This game is worth it for the campaign alone.
The campaign isn't everything you get with the package, though, as you do have the tower defense vs. tower defense multiplayer. I would suggest playing through the campaign first, because it helps you a ton from a strategy standpoint. The versus mode is alright, and it can be fun if you have two players who know what they're doing. When you play as the attacking side you are essentially doing the same thing as the campaign, but being the tower side is a completely different experience. It will take you a few games to get the hang of using the towers since they are stationary and using the abilities with them has a bit of a learning curve. Most of the games I played ended up being very quick and one-sided until the other person knew what they were doing, and that's when you started to see a bunch of back and forth. It just didn't feel as rewarding as playing through the campaign. You might have some fun with it, but I think you'll enjoy the campaign a lot more.
Anomaly 2 is an outstanding strategy game with a stellar campaign to back it up. It has a lot of replay value, and the missions are all unique from one another. This game is one of the best looking indie games on the market, but unfortunately it has a pretty lackluster story. That doesn't hinder your experience with the campaign though. The multiplayer was slightly disappointing, but it's also not terrible either. It just feels like it's kind of there. Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Anomaly 2 and it would be a mistake not to pick this one up!
This game was reviewed using a Steam copy of the game provided by the publisher 11 bit studios S.A.