Platforms PC/Mac/iPhone/iPad (PC Reviewed)
Things You Might Like
- Unique take on the tower defence genre
- Fourteen levels over two campaigns
- Two raid modes
- Online scoring, achievements
- Unlockable vehicles, upgrades
Things You Might Not Like
- High difficulty
- Cheesy dialogue
- Dreadful voice acting
Anomaly is a refreshing take on an old genre, although mired in difficulty and lousy acting.
4 out of 5 Combat Suits
Jonathan David Lim
In the past ten or so years, Internet gaming has sort of taken on its own breed. Numerous genres with simple premises are abound on gaming sites like Kongregate or BubbleBox, likely for the same simple reason: they’re easy to make, and everyone already knows the rules. Unlike console or PC gaming, Internet gaming tends to offer the same game with different coats of paint. There’s the escape-the-room game, an offshoot of the classic PC Adventure games made popular by Sierra and LucasArts; the platform puzzler, wherein Super Mario Bros. is combined with the likes of Tetris; the launcher, made recently popular by Angry Birds; hordes of zombie-related games; and perhaps most popular of all, the tower defence strategy game.
Most tower defence games are quite simple to master, given enough time and a decent understanding of the controls. Set up towers along a predesignated route, and watch as your enemies get splattered into oblivion — or reach their goal, which of course spells trouble for you. The tower defence game has been known to inhabit medieval fantasy worlds, the far-flung future, a school desk, the innards of a computer, and so on. Same game, different setting. All the hopeful programmer needs to do is create a slightly more unique landscape than the last, and the game may as well have coded itself.
What Anomaly has done is the big role reversal. Instead of tower defence, the guys at Polish outfit 11 bit studios have given the world a tower offence, putting the player in the shoes of the poor saps who have to fight through these towers to the very end.
The game is set in the not-too-distant future. When a pair of extraterrestrial spacecraft crashland in Baghdad and Tokyo, they each release an anomaly — two large domes that envelope their respective cities with a mysterious energy wave. The British military is sent in to explore the anomalies, utilising the latest in military technology: combat suits. The combat suit allows for on-the-ground control of a convoy of vehicles, along with an array of helpful tools.
The player controls the unnamed General, who can deploy repair beacons, smokescreens, and decoy targets, as well as call in aerial strikes to assist the convoy in reaching their goal. In order to reach said goal, the player is able to ‘zoom out’ of the map at any time to a blue overhead map, whereby s/he can plot the most sensible route.
All of this is explained over time, and in the first few missions, there is a good deal of hand-holding. But don’t let these initial levels trick you into a false sense of security. As the game goes on, it gets much, much harder. Sometimes frustratingly so (I wouldn’t want to play this on ‘Hardcore’ mode, unless I want to lose all my hair), but it’s not impossible. It does require a very strategic mind — which is something I do not possess. Needless to say, the game wasn’t for me, but I can definitely see the appeal it will have with others.
There are two campaigns, one for each city. When one campaign is finished, it opens up a raid mode for the respective city, where the player can take on waves of towers in a sort of tower offense battle royale. The missions can also be replayed to earn either a higher score or numerous achievements. Y’know, bragging rights. Once new vehicles and upgrades are released in the next campaign, they become available in the raid modes.
My only real gripe with the game is the dialogue. The problem is twofold: to start, it’s rather poor. It comes off as cheesy and a bit forced. For instance, at some point in the Baghdad campaign, the narrator/commander says, ‘Keep this up, and the Queen will have us over for tea and crumpets.’ It’s as if the head writer sat down and asked, ‘What does everyone associate with Great Britain?’ And of course, the response was: Queen, tea, crumpets, London Bridge, Big Ben, etc. Fair enough, but would a real British soldier make mention of any of these things, especially in the heat of battle against an alien force? I find it unlikely.
Also, did you notice how I mentioned the narrator and commander with a slash? That’s because there is only one male voice actor in the entire game (as far as I can tell, that is), and his range is irritatingly small. Even with a fake Japanese accent, you can tell it’s him. Then again, bad acting isn’t exactly something new in video games, though it is dated. Silent Hill 2 had some horrendous voice acting, and it was made with a larger budget by a mainstream developer. But by that same token, we now have games like Mass Effect 2. In any case, it’s frustrating playing a game when you can’t tell when the ingame characters are talking to you, or to each other.
Overall, it’s a fun gaming experience. Anomaly a unique take on a stale genre, and provides a decent-enough plotline to get you through it. With the exponential difficulty and raid modes, the game has a decent shelf-life as well, so you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your ten currency units. While there could have been improvements made to the dialogue and voice acting, I think there’s enough slack to be given for an indie developer who are just starting out. Just make sure you’re one of strategic ilk to bother playing through all fourteen missions.
Jonathan David Lim
Review by Jonathan David Lim, editor-in-chief.
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