Anomaly 2 Review – So Much Thinking (PS4)
When Anomaly: Warzone Earth first came out back in 2011, it threw tower defense games on their heads by putting players in the shoes of the mobs instead of having them build towers. Anomaly 2 on the PlayStation 4 follows in that same vein, but adds in some new features that helps keep the game fresh.
The biggest change, and the one that 11 Bit Studios put the most emphasis on, is the game’s multiplayer mode. Here, players can either take on a defensive role and build towers in an effort to protect their base, or players can go with the traditional Anomaly route and go on the offensive side, sending in mobs to destroy those annoying towers.
The game’s multiplayer mode actually looks like a blast, but, unfortunately, it is virtually unplayable. The multiplayer mode can only be played with people online — there are no local co-op options. However, so few people have Anomaly 2 that trying to get set up with a random opponent is simply not possible. On at least five separate occasions, I waited in the multiplayer lobby for over 15 minutes, with no luck finding a single opponent. Hopefully, more people will pick up a copy of Anomaly 2 in the near future to make multiplayer more feasible. As of right now, the multiplayer mode will not be factored into the review, but it will be updated when the mode becomes playable.
While the multiplayer mode was not so easy to access, the single-player campaign is always available to play. Like in the first Anomaly game, the main story revolves around aliens that have come to earth, and humans that are trying to get rid of them. The story is sort of cheesy, and is simply there in order to somewhat tie the different levels together. And speaking of cheesy, the game’s dialogue is the absolute worst. It mostly consists of cliched phrases that are only made worse by the awful voice acting. To be honest, the voice acting is so bad that I am not sure if it was done intentionally, in order to add some humor into the game. Either way, if you want a good laugh, make sure you turn up your volume when the various characters are talking to hear all their goofy goodness.
Looking past that, however, the Anomaly 2 is actually very strategic and intelligent in its gameplay. Like the first Anomaly, the point of each level is to get your little army of vehicles from point A to point B, but you are able to choose different paths to get there. There are numerous paths to choose from, and picking different ones can drastically alter the level. For example, players can choose to send their little vehicle army down a path with numerous towers on it. While it will be tougher, as those towers will be eagerly shooting at the army in an effort to wipe it out, players will also get more money, as destroying towers can earn players cash. This cash can then be used to buy new units or upgrade the existing ones, making your little army stronger. At the same time, players can choose to go down a route with fewer towers, thus making it safer but earning less cash. Being able to choose your path makes the gameplay highly strategic, and makes each level very repayable.
One of the other things that makes the game replayable are the different units that can be bought or upgraded. There are a few different vehicles which can be added to your army, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some might be good at taking out towers from a distance, while some are better at towers that are right next to them, and still others serve more as a shield to protect the other vehicles from damage. A total of six vehicles can be added to your little army, but these can be upgraded using resources, making them heartier and stronger.
There is also a new addition to the game that was not featured in the original Anomaly — players can now “morph” their vehicles, turning them into a completely different thing with different weapons and abilities. For example, one of the tanks that can be purchased features a machine gun on the top of it. The gun is perfect for taking out enemies that are somewhat far away. However, as the tank moves closer, the gun really isn’t as effective. Luckily, players can instantly morph the tank into a two-legged robot, equipped with a flamethrower that is great at taking out enemies up close. This morphing ability adds a whole new level of strategy to the game, as you often have think about which vehicle would be the best to morph into at various situations.
On top of having to constantly think about which vehicle to use at some current moment, players also have to know which power-ups to use and where to use them. During each level, various power-ups can be collected from fallen towers. These power-ups do an array of different things — one can repair your units, another will offer a brief distraction to enemy units, and so on. These power-ups can occasionally be hard to come by, especially if playing the game in one of the harder difficulties, so knowing when to use them and when not to use them can be extremely important. Unlike other games where players might be able to get away with not using any power-ups or special abilities, Anomaly 2 essentially forces you to use them, as some levels actually require the use of them to win. The power-ups can make the game much easier when you have a lot of them, and near impossible when you have run out.
Now, even though I have listed a whole bunch of reasons why to get or not to get Anomaly 2, I know that some of you are probably the most interested in what the graphics are like and if they are worthy enough to be on a PS4. My answer to that, unfortunately, is not so much. While the colors in the game are beautiful, especially when a tower get blown up, the graphics sometime seem to have a sort of hazy quality about them. I might just be picky, but they do not seem to be on par with other PS4 titles. This is to somewhat be expected, as the game has a fairly cheap price tag and it actually came out last year, with the PS4 version being more of a port. That being said, I wouldn’t be bothered by the graphics if it wasn’t for the fact that players are not able to zoom in. Instead, the camera stays high above the action, which is great for strategically planning what to do next, but is horrible for wanting to see what all of these vehicles and towers actually look like. Not having a zoom option doesn’t really impact the gameplay, but it makes it difficult to really get into the lore of the game when the enemies and your own vehicles cannot be seen in detail.
Overall, though, Anomaly 2 builds off the first Anomaly with some fresh, new ideas, and is an intelligent, strategic game with plenty of replayability value. It is not perfect by any means, but for the price ($14.99), it is a pretty fun game.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.