Anomaly: Warzone Earth im Test - Tower Offense

Author: Patrick Lück
Date: 2011-04-28 18:50:00
The "tower defense" principle is well known: stupid opponents trudge through a labyrinth of turrets under constant fire. Anomaly: Warzone Earth turns the tables and puts you in the role of the attacker: Welcome to the Tower Offense!

In English sport jargon there is the truism: "Offense wins matches, defense wins championships", that is: Good attackers win individual games, but only capable defenders win the championship.

Tower defense games such as Defense Grid and Plants vs. Zombies have raised defense to the topmost principle of the game and led to playful championship: The player places turrets, past which waves of increasingly resistant opponents march past.

With Anomaly: Warzone Earth , the indie studio 11bit is turning this principle on its head: This time we don't have to build the turret course, but rather cross it. Fortunately, our units are quite defensive and can in turn crumble the enemy towers.

The scenario: the glorious six

In Anomaly: Warzone Earth, Baghdad and Tokyo are hit by the wreckage of an alien spaceship. Anomalies form around the fragments in which turrets sprout from the ground.

This plot sounds simple, but develops a little more depth in the course of the exciting and intricately told campaign. Because behind the phenomenon are two alien parties: while the tower intelligence seeks to destroy the earth, the ship intelligence and anomaly intelligence tries to protect us.

We slip into the role of a commander who accompanies a convoy of up to six vehicles and is supposed to clear up the anomaly zones. This commander is the only controllable unit in the game, with him we run (much faster than our vehicles) in front of, behind and next to the convoy.

We influence the route of our convoy through the maze of streets of Baghdad or Tokyo using a city map, so that this column turns loops or bypasses particularly tough tower nests. We cannot stop, brake, accelerate or turn the vehicles.

The convoy: First the rearguard, uh ...

As a commander, we assemble our convoy from up to six unit types, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The thickly armored tank, for example, can take a lot, but rarely fires. The crawler can't stand anything, but fires long-range missiles. And a shield unit protects neighboring vehicles under an energy bell, but cannot fire itself.

Careful balancing and the correct arrangement of troops can significantly affect the outcome of the game. If the convoy is heading towards a rotating gun, it is advisable to position the tank at the very front so that it draws enemy fire towards you.

If, on the other hand, we are heading sideways towards a non-rotating gun, the long-range guns should be in front. Because in this way they can open fire early without resistance. The order can be easily rearranged at any time, fortunately the game pauses.

Some towers can be tricked by the vehicle haggling or units that are about to be destroyed can be saved at the last moment. Overall, the learning curve is very good, gradually adding new types of troops and special skills, but also enemies and challenges.

The Commander: Shoot, shoot!

Even the commander himself has plenty to do, because he has vital special skills. In this way, he can not only repair the units, but also start diversionary maneuvers, fog the area or even order an air strike. The use of talents is numerically limited, however, new special weapons “ammunition” must first be captured from opponents.

He's also used as a target. Above all, it can turn slowly rotating enemy guns 180 degrees and thus distract from the convoy. However, he shouldn't overdo it: if the Commander dies, precious seconds pass before he is resuscitated, during which the convoy is left to its own devices.

In addition to the tactics, a portion of action comes into play. The whole thing looks effective and at the same time clear and controls itself quickly and intuitively. The professional speakers (English, with German subtitles) also do a first-class job.

Only the campaign could be staged a little more cinematic. Whereby Anomaly: Warzone Earth is, mind you, an indie project at a bargain price, so we can do without Hollywood bombast.

The missions: we don't have time!

Instead of just sending our convoy from one end of the map to the other, Anomaly: Warzone Earth goes on a relatively diverse range of missions. For example, we have to cut a lane through the tower zone for a helicopter, keep bridges from collapsing or safely escort a prototype tank to the factory floor.

Since we are also dependent on resources that are often lying around on remote roadsides, tricky decisions await us. Should we accept a detour and a few tougher tower groups for a few raw materials? Or do we rush to the exit before a time limit falls? Anomaly evaluates our performance with medals (bronze to gold) and a high score, which we can immediately compare online.

Aside from the campaign, there are only two special cards (to be unlocked first), which means that the scope and total replay value compared to Defense Grid or Plants vs. Zombies are very limited. In terms of long-term motivation, the defense maintains its championship, but in the rest the offense has at least drawn straight away.