Almost two years ago, I was tasked with reviewing Anomaly – Warzone Earth, and I remember walking away from that game absolute elated, calling it “the best tower defense game to ever not be a tower defense game.” Its unique concept took the old and boring cliches that the genre usually relies on and completely turned them upside down.
Suffice it to say, I had high expectations when I was told I was going to review Anomaly Defenders. You would think by this point in my career I’d have learned to stop doing that to myself.
Let’s start off by addressing the elephant in the room. Anomaly made its name by making everything that was old and boring new again. As opposed to playing the defender, you were tasked with launching the attack against the aliens, keeping your creeps alive and deciding the best order to put them in to maximize your chances of completing each mission. Anomaly Defenders didn’t want to risk becoming stale, and reversed the roles, which eliminates most of its series’ charm.
I feel the need to say this now, knowing fully well that many of you will stop reading at this point. The tower defense genre has been filled to the brim with games since the days when Newgrounds was still relevant, and it takes a lot to stand out in that absolute mess of a crowd. Hell, even searching “tower defense” on Steam kicks back 241 results. That being said, Anomaly Defenders is a good traditional tower defense game in its own right and does take some steps in the right direction.
The big selling point is that towers now have active abilities that you can trigger at will. Rage boosts the damage of your towers, sniper will give them a longer range and the EMP will disrupt shields long enough for you to do some serious damage to the onslaught of tanks and other assorted creeps. These buffs can be the difference maker in some of the tougher battles, but they’re going to require you to manage your energy and pay attention to what’s happening in the fray.
As you destroy invaders, they’ll drop balls of energy that you can gather for your own use. Each of the previously mentioned buffs require a few energy points, but you can also spend energy points on repairing your towers, an invaluable tool in the scheme of things. Managing your energy can be difficult in the heat of battle, but this is exactly the type of mechanic Anomaly Defenders needed to stand out from the crowd.
This sequel also features a fairly robust tech tree that allows you to fine tune your strategy as the game goes on. I tended to favor an ‘all-out offensive’ approach, and spent most of my points on stronger towers and being able to buy them cheaper; however, there’s just enough variability here to allow for a few different tactics. Anomaly Defenders is also mercifully lenient when it comes to research points, as you can simply wipe the board and recover all of your hard earned points at any time.
The 24 levels that are included here do vary a bit, but usually aren’t anything worth writing home about. I mean, having the humans attack from multiple directions isn’t exactly breaking new ground. That said, some of the levels do add a bit of extra tension to the mix with environmental hazards, which leave you to deal with the damaging effects of a meteor shower while fending off intruders. It never offered any “wow” moments for me, but there was just enough deviation from the norm to keep the game from becoming tedious.
Anomaly Defenders is releasing on mobile platforms at a later date, and I honestly believe that it will become a hit on those devices. As a PC game, though, it does little to stand out and doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any notable way. The small changes are welcome, but there’s nothing here that demands your money over any other tower defense game.
This review is based on a PC version of the game given to us for review purposes.
Anomaly Defenders doesn’t do enough to break away from the traditional tower defense mould, leaving behind a serviceable but mostly forgettable game.