Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a strategy game unlike any other, created by 11 Bit Studios and brought to the iPhone and iPad by Chillingo. Originally released on Steam for both the PC and Mac, Anomaly is a reverse tower defense game, in which you play as the attacking convoy of troops and have to fight through massive amounts of towers.
The game sports great visuals and audio, and is definitely a must-play for any strategy or tower defense fan. The year is 2018 and a massive comet has just struck down in Baghdad. In its wake, a giant dome of energy consumes the city. These are the anomalies of the title. You are the commander of the 14th squad, the first in line to investigate this new threat. The game takes place in cities and anomalies all over the world, as we learn that the comets are just pieces of debris from a gargantuan alien ship touching down all over.
Basic game play in the story mode has you start a mission by choosing which units you want to set out with. There are offensive and defensive unit types, and your formations are always evolving as you play. Between the six units available to you and the six tower types, there are tons of possible ways to handle each level. Your units can all be upgraded several times to become more powerful as well. After choosing your units, you use your tactical view to set their path.
Each intersection has an arrow which can be pointed in any of the four directions with a simple tap. It's up to you to plot a course for your convoy that best suits the mission at hand. Do you go around the entire map, ruthlessly destroying every tower and collecting all the resources, but risk all the extra combat? Or do you gun it for the objective, taking the path of least resistance. Both options are viable, and rewarded in their own way, but some missions require a very specific strategy. Many missions will require you to reset your path on the fly. At the end of a level, you are awarded points and medals based on your performance. Something I like about this game is that you can play any mission at any difficulty, rather than choosing a difficulty at the start of the campaign. It's nice to be able to drop down to casual mode if advanced and hardcore prove too challenging. If you can't beat a level on casual… well, then get better.
As someone who owns this game on PC, I can tell you that this isn't just a basic port. The game is fundamentally changed in several ways. In the PC version, you took control of an actual commander unit in crazy power armor, unleashing the various support abilities and picking new ones up manually. To make things easier for the small screen, you're simply an armchair general, collecting and unleashing abilities with a tap of your finger. The campaign is completely different too; different story, different unit progression, the works. The missions also seem much faster and shorter to accommodate a more casual audience.
This Tower Offense game is great, and 11 Bit Studios really knocked it out of the park. The game has a great futuristic style in everything, from the user interface to the tactical display of a map. The game can be a little bit slow and frustrating at times, but luckily, there is always a fast forward button to keep things moving at a nice pace. It's not a perfect game, but it's really well made and a great innovator in a genre that has been getting stale. There is a mode called the Commander Trials, which you unlock by beating the Story or by gifting the game. As a Chillingo game, there is both Crystal and Game Center support for achievements and leader boards. You can have this game for two dollars, or you can snag the HD version for four. If I were you, I'd go get the full game on the PC or Mac for ten dollars. It's a more complete experience, and you'll be supporting this studio's future projects. Plus, Steam has a big sale every time the wind changes direction, so it's bound to show up cheaper eventually.