Anomaly Warzone Earth is a genuinely unique gaming experience, certainly on Android. From the outside it looks like another tower defence game, albeit a highly polished one. However, closer inspection reveals it’s more of a tower offense game.
Instead of blasting oncoming baddies, you’re the one navigating through hazardous locations taking on static towers, which makes for a refreshing and original reversal of a popular genre. The game features an interesting plot involving alien technology, as well as astonishing graphics, brilliant gameplay and a wholly immersive experience. For more on this remarkably visceral Android gaming milestone, read on…
Set in the near future of 2018, it would seem that Baghdad is a city not due peace any time soon as it becomes the backdrop of this fiercely superb and action packed game. You command a group of armoured vehicles as they pass through highly defended locations and against a variety of seriously powerful towers. If you literally take the tower defence concept and flip it, you are now on the offensive side.
Detailed 3D graphics
As you progress through the stages, you are able to add vehicles of your choice to your convoy. It’s not just you and your vehicles either; there are various ability items which are essential. Take, for example, the maintenance ability: simply tap an area of the path ahead, and as your vehicles pass through it they’ll gradually get repaired. Another example is the decoy ability, which lets you drop a decoy anywhere which will draw away enemy fire from your group.
Use these abilities sparingly and punctually to keep your troops alive and complete the level. The more towers you destroy, the more air support will drop items for you. Mid-stage drops are absolutely vital for keeping alive. Your vehicles can be upgraded too, once you begin collecting the valuable alien resources scattered around the levels.
Use abilities by creating affected areas, here in yellow
Before each mission, you are initially briefed by a gruff Andy McNab-type narrator who will give you an idea of what you need to do and present the location to you. This is via a super-imposed tactical blueprint map that displays locations of towers and other items of interest. Missions are quite varied, from taking out specific targets to clearing a path for support vehicles.
Each mission you have accomplished can be viewed on the larger stage map which plots your way through the Baghdad locale. While it is just a game, the kind of interaction you get with each mission feels quite authentic (well, as authentic as searching for alien tech can be) and clearly well thought out by the developers. Players get to design their own route through the area and this strategic plotting is vital for both completing missions and surviving.
Tactical map view - set your own path through the enemy towers
Once you have plotted your route, you also have to pick which vehicles to take and there is a variety to choose from. You can earn extra credits during the stage, and the game lets you add units to your convoy even half-way through the level. Stages obviously get tougher as you progress, but another choice relates to what difficulty level to take on. There’s ‘Casual’, ‘Advanced’ and ‘Hardcore’. I like the fact you get to choose this before each level, so if you take a battering in one level you can turn the action down a notch for the next in order to progress.
Difficulty Settings before each stage
In a nutshell, the graphics are eye-wateringly spectacular. The landscapes and enemies are rich and detailed and exchanging of fire (and subsequent explosions) burst from your screen. There are lots of other aspects to the visuals that you might miss. The secondary screens – such as the interactive tactical screens, the stage map and the menus for buying and upgrading vehicles – are all extremely slick and a joy to use.
The stand-out graphical feature for me is the transition between the tactical blueprint view and the real-world maps. It’s so fluid and sexy, your eyes would be forgiven for bleeding. Think of the high-tech graphics you get with TV shows like CSI, 24 or Spooks and you’ll have an idea of the kind of visuals to expect. The main in-game landscapes are 3D and look astounding as you move around the map and see buildings from different angles. The city is a war-torn dystopia of devastated ruins and these representations come across as chillingly authentic and finely detailed.
Mission over, chummy narrator debriefs
It would be a travesty if the sound quality were not superb, but fortunately it is. Your squaddie narrators on the ground feed you regular soundbites throughout the level, from whoops of joy when big towers are destroyed to timely reminders that they’re under heavy fire and could do with support. There is the typical explosions and gunfire you might expect, in addition to a significantly well-executed music tracks that reminded me closely of that from the Command and Conquer titles.
Gameplay-wise there are no other tower ‘offense’ titles that I’m aware of and the tower genre is one I’ve played and reviewed a great deal. Graphically, the game is ever-so-slightly better than the blistering Sentinel 3: Homeworld. The attention that has gone into details such as menu graphics, sound quality and gameplay elements remind me of the polish you get with games like Night of the Living Dead and Fieldrunners HD.
Anomaly Warzone Earth roundly trumps all of these titles, however, and sets a new high standard in strategy games. It not only splits the ‘tower’ genre by being about offense rather than defence, but sets new standards in interactivity and absorbing realism.
When you take a step back there are a number of things you can measure a game by. Graphics, sound, ease-of-play, gameplay, originality and addictiveness – for me anyway – are all key. Anomaly Warzone Earth wholeheartedly ticks all these boxes with absolute aplomb. It’s stunningly beautiful and the sound is first-rate. It’s also easy to pick up and the gameplay is absorbing, diverse and highly addictive.
If you currently enjoy tower defence or any kind of combat/war/strategy games, Anomaly Warzone Earth should completely blow you away. It’s a game you have to pay for, but worth every penny.