11 Bit Studios decision to make a tower defense game set in a bombed-out, alien-infested world otherwise full of sand, bullets, and bombs doesn’t seem like an inspired design direction for a downloadable game from a new studio, but it totally is. Despite its over-saturated genre and its dull name, Anomaly: Warzone Earth [$1.99 / HD] has something new to share and its fresh conceits are executed in some of the most graceful, simple, and visually striking ways I’ve seen in a long time. It nails its strategy component by providing unique constructs, it nails its controls, and it nails its look, which is really is a treat on touch devices.

The easiest way to express what Anomaly does is with the phrase “tower defense in reverse,” which sorta sounds cheesy, but it’s pretty good approximation. Basically, you control the creeps in an environment laced with enemy turrets. Anomaly takes this idea a step further by giving you control over what kind of creeps you can build, the order in which you place your creeps,  and by also allowing you to plot out the course you’ll take dynamically during the mission.

Outside of this next-level take on tower defense, what’s really magical about this game is that the mixture of troops you deploy in the field -- whether it be a combination of tank, APAC, missile launcher-thing, shield generator, or whatever else -- changes the way you’ll approach each given mission, altering the paths you take in subtle, but important ways. If there was ever a game primed for replays, this is it. It's insane flexible.

You alter your direction, for the most part, because of the way the turrets are designed. Some, for example, only spit high-damage ‘bullets’ in one direction, while others blast electricity or throw out pulses that disrupt your approach. In other situations, it's the environment you'll need to plot around. All these obstructions ensures that your creep build is fluid, which makes for a very satisfying strategic experience. My lizard brain is still a little unnerved by how deep such a tremendously simple-looking game like this can be.

There’s a lot that goes into creep formations. Early on, you’ll get the ability to trade in-game cash for armor and weapon improvements on a per level basis. Later, you’ll receive the ability to buy other vehicles that flesh out a range of attack options. There's even one that can churn out one of Anomaly’s other remarkable -- and ultimately satisfying -- mechanics: power-ups. As you kill turrets, you’ll be able to retrieve powers that can mask your troops, heal them, or re-direct enemy fire. Eventually, you’ll get access to a bomb that’ll eliminate foes en masse according to your drop location. The implications of how you deploy  power-ups in a given situation has a huge impact on how you play, build, and move, too.

The decision to render the game in a top-down perspective was an apt one, considering this is almost a god game of sorts. You direct all the movement, the moment-to-moment action, and drop power-ups onto the field with direct touches into the game world. The touch in general is precise, fluid, and native-feeling, which is awesome, but also doubly-awesome considering that this is a port of a mouse and keyboard game.

One of my few issues with Anomaly loosely ties into the activation of power-ups. If you’re not on the ball, it’s very possible that you could accidentally drop one while scrolling through a level. And, hey, while we’re on the subject of bad -- the writing and setup are both dreadful.

None of the writing really matters, though, as it’s really just a crutch for the premise of the next level, most of which bring a new design element to the table. One of my favorites is the one that has you killing specific power plants with live wiring scattered throughout the level. This premise revolves around identifying which plants to destroy first, while avoiding the lines you can't get to just yet.  In other levels, you’ll also find yourself doing the normal video game stuff like escorting, protecting, and stopping enemies from damaging specific goals. Outside of the campaign, there's a tack-on mode Horde-ish mode that adds wave-based play into the mix. It's okay, but not anywhere near as entertaining as the core experience.

 

 

It’s ridiculous how much Anomaly has to offer and how natural it feels on touch devices. I don’t think it’s out of line to call it one of the best games on the market at the moment, as its easily one the visually sharpest, most well-produced, and executed out there. If you want a tower defense game that does things differently, or if you just want a solid strategy title that gives you near complete control over the experience, this is it.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • http://www.facebook.com/ZEROFACES Dreimos Heijnen

    I really didn't expect this review. I'm very pleased though =]
    Purchasing now...

  • andrzej raczynski

    "overly saturated" to you maybe, i still can't get enough good TD games.  sadly, found the PC demo of this kind of boring, so don't see myself touching this for a long time...

  • John Doe

    Is it worth picking up if I already have the steam version?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wujek-Grga/100000934712651 Wujek Grga

      Hi,
      The iOS version was originally designed for those devices. So the gameplay was thought to be for "touch screen" spirit of playing - entire new levels, achievements, challenges. If you like Steam version, you're totally gonna love this one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sebastian-Paul/1186812355 Sebastian Paul

    Great game, have been enjoying it for the last two hours, unable to put it down^^

  • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

    Chillingo... I hate u soo much!
    What a bastard company...
    This game is awesome, but the HD is a pointless version, there is NOTHING extra why to get it and its twice the price compared to the simple version XDDD pathetic...

    I think about to buying the normal version if its fully functional with RetinaPad, or i will wait for a sale...

    • Anonymous

      Almost every company charges more for the iPad version of the game, with some notable exceptions. I'm not defending it, but this certainly isn't a new idea.

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        Right.. better graphics..

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wujek-Grga/100000934712651 Wujek Grga

      Actually you have the whole mode extra in HD version, it just needs to be unlocked in the story campaign!

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        You right! There is an Assault Squad mode, but its also dont mention why it cant be universal...
        Better graphics Michael? No, just the resolution is bigger with very, very little, thats all. The HD should be iPad2 enhanced with the better graphics like the PC version....and that will be enough!

      • Spaceinvader

        It's even more expensive on steam. Different platforms, different prices. It's not a big deal.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        iPhone and iPad is SAME platform (they like W7 pro and ultimate)!!!
        and if u buy it on steam u could ALSO use it on Mac or PC without paying twice!
        ITS A BIG DEAL, selling nearly the same for twice instead make it universal (with this they even split the GC leaderboards)... thats why i hate EA, Chillingo and Gameloft (Gl started to make universal games, maybe they recognize that, nobody buys treir games for full price, everyone wait for the 0,79/0,99 sales for SD and HD versions) !

        Anyway 11 Bit Studio made an awesome game, the problem is with the greedy publishers....

      • Anonymous

        I'm with you. I'm not going to pay twice, so I just won't buy it at all. As a bonus, it's not Universal so there will be no iCloud support. So even if you pay twice to use your devices, you're going to have to play through each one separately.

        Steam is a good example, the PC and Mac versions come together, and that requires a hell of a lot more effort than getting an iPhone app to run on the iPad. Steam Cloud will even share your saves.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        sadly its true, Apple started this with the up scale system what refuse to use the higher retina resolution and then the greedy publishers smell it and they started all the "HD" brand....

        thats why my all time favorite app is Igloo Games Arcade! 5 games in 1 pack with universality, split screen 2 player mode (2 separate games!) and coop + few iPad enchantments! My all time favorite pack...

        anyway what can we do against the publishers? Any idea?

      • UmbraVir

        Totally agree with you bud, but the iPhone is my only and primary gaming platform so... ^^

        On another note: game looks great. Will be picking it up very soon.

      • Adams Immersive

        I strongly prefer Universal apps, but we’re talking a couple bucks here—even if you buy every game twice, we’re still spoiled compared to other platforms.

        And they’re not the “same” platform in the sense of not requiring any additional work. The iPad screen is not the same size (or even the same shape) as a doubled iPhone screen, neither in inches nor pixels, and the relative size of your fingers vs. the UI is not the same either. So most games will need new UIs at the very least.

        But pricing isn’t all about the work required, either, it’s about what people are willing to pay. The iPad, probably because it costs more to start with, supports higher app prices. In that sense too is it a different market—that’s just reality. But those prices are still incredibly low for what you get.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        Rebuildong some xib files and setting all the outlets&actions back... Not a big deal...they dont need new UI.... They have the high resolution images already (thats what i said).
        And nobody said the inches or pixels are the same, i said the retinaRes is enough for most of the people, few developers make universal games with just the upscale enabled, they do it right!
        And what u said about fingers is not correct... UI works perfect with the upscaled versions, Apple done it with the iOS3.2...

        And u dont mention the separated save games and leaderboards, achievements...

        I prefer apps for 3bucks with universality, instead of 1+2bucks(or 4) with separated apps.

      • Adams Immersive

        Finger size IS important. You’re correct that just doubling iPhone buttons does “work”—but not as well as refining the UI for iPad. Typically that includes reducing the button sizes (why block the screen?) and keeping constant-use buttons away from the bottom corners (awkward because people hold iPad differently). It can involve much more than that (graphical enhancements etc.). Or it can involve no changes at all, for certain (rare) games. But it’s not the same. It IS different. (Plus it’s a whole new class of users to support, debug and do testing for.)

        Universal apps ARE better. But I can’t be too angry at the ways a developer chooses to make money for their time, as long as they’re pricing fairly within the market that exists, and as long as the result is still an awesome deal for me!

        As for leaderboards, some will complain if they’re separate, some will complain if they’re combined: the iPad’s larger screen is often an advantage, and thus can be unfair to put in the same leaderboards as iPhone/iPod.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        so with the fingers u mention the space saving, its true, but we also have the nonRetina icons witches are half the size :'D they can used for space saving :)

        I think the publishers force em to make separated apps for iPad (this is just my opinion)

        And in normal games, the bigger screen doesn't make any sense..... only if the ipad version have bigger game-field (in that case, developers usually make SD and HD mode with merged and separated leader-boards), i am a big gammer on the iOS platform, i have iPhone 3 years ago and iPad for about a half year so i know what i'm saying.

    • http://twitter.com/kreofina Kreofina

      I'd buy that in a heartbeat if HD version was universal one. 

      Right now, no can do!
      I decided some time ago to boycott stupid pricing practices - including this one - pay twice for a "privilege" to use the same title on different iOS devices - it's simply stealing from us, customers.
      And don't get me started on this extra mode... it just says that iPhone version is crippled in comparison.

      If smaller indie developers can afford to make their titles HD version a universal  one than it's definitely possible for bigger publishers as well - what I see now is just a shortsighted stupid "milking" policy on their side.
      Anomaly is a Great Game - but Chillingo's pricing policy really overshadows it's awesomeness.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        Thats the point!!!
        I do the same, but most of people don't care about this and the others buy them without any thinking!
        Look at the iPad top list, Angry Sh*t HD is the first ! thats a nonsense!
        The same with EA's and Gameloft's crap...

        i cant even find a forum where normal versions compared to their iPad versions, and naming the iPad version to HD is also a cheat with words, normal version also have high resolution whats looks enough on the iPad!

        Any ideas? 
        /instead of using retinaPad and to make sound to my opinion in reviews/

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        now i found why Chillingo's pricing policy is that greedy...
        its simple as hell... just 2 characters....
        "Chillingo is a leading Independent Games Publisher and a division of Electronic Arts."

  • Anonymous

    Great review. While I'm a little disappointed that the iOS graphics aren't comparable to the PC version, I'm still very excited to play it.

  • Czy Lingo

    Fabulous! Among cutting the rope and destroying pighouses, you may FINALLY want to try something FRESH and serious.

  • backtothis

    Killer game for sure.

  • farfield

    Damn, i've been waiting for long and now that i've played i'm so much happy for the long wait. It well worth.

  • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

    awesome, i've got this on steam for mac...

  • winnie

    How are the visuals on iPad 1 vs iPad2?

    Same? Does the iPad 1 stutter? Is it optimized for iPad 2 with anti-aliasing etc.?

    • Janketyjankjank

      There aren't that many apps that actually outclass the iPad 1 yet, but it's not a terrible question.

    • Wujek Grga at 11 bit

      Hi,
      When we were developing the game, there was no iPad 2 yet so we couldn't work on any special optimizations for it. Now, we're getting busy with DLCs that will be for... free!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dimitris-Katsafouros/666754640 Dimitris Katsafouros

    I definitely expected better graphics especially on the ipad2. It's a good game (I've been playing with it for a couple of hours) but they could up the ante on the graphics department especially on more capable devices.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Kua/536285709 Shane Kua

    I for one am glad the graphics look good and there’s no perceptible lag on the iPad one. I’m fine with iPad 2 optimisations, just as long as the iPad 1 experience is still decent.

  • FreeFrog

    Looks kick ass. I'll pick it up over the weekend. :D

  • UmbraVir

    What happened to the commander?! Nooooooo! His corny puns were the best... :'(

    Oh well... I guess his removal makes up for the increase in visual space(probably needed a d-pad if there was a commander)

    • Wujek Grga at 11 bit

       The player is the commander in this one as this was specially designed for touch screen gameplay. Controlling commander via touching was not good for that kind of gameplay. The philosophy is as simple as "the gameplay is the most important!". :)

  • shamyou

    i dont agree with the pricing either, its bullshit.

    but for a few pounds/dollars i cant see the point in not buying a good game because its priced a couple of dollars more or less. if we lived like that allthe time....god knows. it would be a sad old life.

    unless of course wait for the sale. looks decent though im going to buy the "hd" version.

    • Anonymous

      That's the thing, though, is every week there are 5-10 releases that look interesting. There are games I bought a month ago that I haven't even played. If one dev feels like they want to leave out iPhone+iPad users, I don't really feel like I miss them.

  • Adams Immersive

    FYI, the Mac version is now on sale on the Mac App Store.

  • LR

    Looks ok but I'm never buying an app with stupid pricing schemes again. Too bad because it is the braindead games like angry birds and cut the rope that have enough of the market that these practices will continue. Whats next? Super HD versions of games for the ipad 3?

    The app store and its ability to allow instant purchases and built-in protection against piracy were a huge boost for the gaming industry and especially developers.  Unfortunately, greed will ensure that originality and innovation will be crushed in the name of producing more trash that "everyone" will buy.

  • LR

    Looks ok but I'm never buying an app with stupid pricing schemes again. Too bad because it is the braindead games like angry birds and cut the rope that have enough of the market that these practices will continue. Whats next? Super HD versions of games for the ipad 3?

    The app store and its ability to allow instant purchases and built-in protection against piracy were a huge boost for the gaming industry and especially developers.  Unfortunately, greed will ensure that originality and innovation will be crushed in the name of producing more trash that "everyone" will buy.

  • Johno

    It's a great game. I bought it on steam when it came out for $10. I just bought it again. Oh dear, $2 gone... whatever shall I do? Uh oh, $4? Heaven forbid. I've never seen people so cheap before. Boycotting over a $4 app? What a joke. But whatever, you can miss out on a quality game. Cheers.

    • LR

      It's not the price but the principle behind it.  Why is the Ipad version more expensive?  Why is it not optimized for ipad 2?  Why do I have to buy it twice if I buy it on iphone and then later buy and ipad?

      The iphone (unsubsidized) and the ipad are similar in cost...why a premium for one over the other?  This is straight up greed on the part of the publishing companies.

      Apple is supporting it because they are getting a cut but it is eventually going to be an issue as users will tire of re-buying games as they upgrade devices.

      It used to be that you were always wanting to upgrade your computer so that you could play the latest games with the highest detail and frame rate.  Now we have this stupid concept of incrementally improving games and charging for it each time.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with Johno. The HD version is still a lot cheaper then the Windows and Mac versions. Smartphone and tablet gamers have become spoiled by dirt cheap prices. Publishers want to maximize their profits, just like Apple and Adobe.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with Johno. The HD version is still a lot cheaper then the Windows and Mac versions. Smartphone and tablet gamers have become spoiled by dirt cheap prices. Publishers want to maximize their profits, just like Apple and Adobe.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        U and the Johno must be heavily handicapped....
        People like u the matter, why they can use this profit oriented greedy pricing policy...
        I thought only girls dont have logic...

      • Malpop

        good, dont buy iphone ipad ipad mac and pc at the same time. 

        choose one item above and stick to it, so you wont have to buy the same game twice.

        by the way, who forces u to buy the SAME game twice? get a life, there are hundreds of thousands of app out there, why wanna buy a game twice and bitch about it? not everyone is having a boring life that all they can do is buy an ipad after they had an iphone, and complain about paying twice. take it or leave it. Go play proper pc/xbox/ps3 games so you wont need to pay twice. no? why? its addictive in ipad ? lol, u're addicted, so just pay the dollar or you can always go for cough cough version that wont cause you a penny.

        and you loser with a big ipad wanna be placed on the same leaderboard with ppl using iphone/ipod touch to play? loser. lol. choose someone your level. and btw, who cares aboout score board? get a life man, seriously, its just a game. wait, its all your life's about? lol

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        iOS is 1 platform not 2 (iPad/iPhone), desktops have 2 platforms but i can get booth for 1 price, maybe u cant read properly at the age of 15....

        And u american piece of nerd garbage, its a gaming blog, about gamers, so most of em are care about the leaderboards, and i like compare with my friends who had iPod and iPhone ( remind that PC/Mac games also could have a lot of resolutions with a lot of screen ratio, like iPad-iPhone ) I also have Starcraft 2 what i started to play on my PC and now i could play it on my Mac without paying again!
        Sorry about that i am not as retarded as you, i prefer iPad than watchibg TV in my late free time..
        We talking about the greedism of publishers/developers, while u talk about p!ss and sh!t, maybe your reason to being @sshole is u cant get a pu$$y to play with so go get a b!tch and come back when you get a bit older or more experienced...

      • sniPyro

        The Windows and Mac versions also look amazing with really really good graphics, which look far better than the iPad version. We haven't really been spoiled, we just don't think paying twice to play it properly on iPad, and paying MORE for an enlarged version makes much sense. Plenty of other apps to buy, it's really not our loss, it's theirs.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with Johno. The HD version is still a lot cheaper then the Windows and Mac versions. Smartphone and tablet gamers have become spoiled by dirt cheap prices. Publishers want to maximize their profits, just like Apple and Adobe.

  • Ron

    If the HD version is not worth paying extra for, why not just buy the iphone game and upscale it on the ipad?
    That way you only pay once...

    I for one will be buying the HD version AND the iphone version.
    its just a few bucks after all....

    • Johno

      Exactly! I was just called "heavily handicapped" for spending a few bucks by who I can only assume is the cheapest person on the planet.

  • Chad Moore

    Link is not working for universal hd version of the download

Anomaly Warzone Earth Reviewed by Brad Nicholson on . Rating: 5