Reviews

Anomaly 2

The imbalanced multiplayer doesn’t add anything to the package, but the single-player is still an impressive, smartly designed game.


Anomaly 2

Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Rated: Teen
Players: 1-2
Price: $15.00
Platforms: PC
Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Release Date: 2013-05-15
URL

Anomaly: Warzone Earth was a good game with a clever hook. It was a “reverse tower defense” game in which you played as the advancing army, or in this case a convoy, and the towers were your enemy. You guided the convoy through city streets, using special abilities like decoys and health drops to protect them from the towers. That first game seemed to wring all the gameplay that it could from this simple concept, so it’s easy to assume that Anomaly 2 might just be more of the same. Thankfully, 11 Bit Games doesn’t rest on their laurels, offering up a sequel that evolves the mechanics in some interesting ways.

Every unit can now morph into a second form with different abilities. The tank turns into a mech, decreasing its armor and range but giving it the ability to hit multiple targets, since it now has two arms. The artillery turret also turns into a mech, decreasing its range and power but giving it the all-important ability to shoot backwards. Each form has very defined advantages and disadvantages, and the tower placement is smart because it exploits those disadvantages.

There are a couple new towers and abilities that play off of each other. Some towers are protected by shields that can be quickly destroyed by using a unit with a high rate of fire, meaning it’s pointless to snipe at these structures with the artillery. By contrast, there’s a decoy tower that attracts your attention, and if you hit it too many times too quickly, it explodes into a destructive electrical turret. Slow artillery is best against these things.

This demand for precision means that you don’t want every unit shooting at the first tower it sees, so you now have the ability to mark specific targets. Any unit in range will focus on that target and ignore all others. This could leave you exposed, but the other new ability is an EMP that shuts down any nearby towers.

With these two new abilities and the morphing, you can constantly prioritize and re-prioritize targets, so you have far more granular control over your units than you did in the first game. This gives you more to think about at any one moment even though you’re not actually doing more. You still only have four abilities, and your squad is still limited to six units, so there’s still only six things on the screen that you need to protect. Anomaly 2 feels more hectic than the first game, but because your actions are still limited, it never becomes overwhelming. Instead, it feels like you’re constantly making compromises, sacrificing range for power, shields for decoys, armor for drones, or more. This makes the game feel very improvisational, like there’s no “best” strategy. There’s just what works in the moment, and that’s exciting.

Anomaly 2 also mixes up its formula in some surprising ways. One level plays like a twisted version of a normal tower defense game, with your convoy traveling around the map to fight off waves of advancing towers. The last level has you fighting a boss that can fly around the map, heal and respawn towers, and block your route. It’s like battling against another player.

If you want to battle another player for real, you can do that in the new multiplayer mode, in which one player controls the squad convoy and the other player controls the alien towers. The squad controls just as it does in the single player, staying on the fun side of chaotic.

Controlling the towers, on the other hand, is just chaotic. You have another four abilities that you can use as the squad passes by, but then there’s an additional tower defense element that demands you manage resources, upgrade paths, and tower construction as well. It’s simply too much to track at once. The tower player essentially has to play two games at the same time, the macro-level tower construction and the micro-level use of abilities, while the squad player only has to focus on the micro-level stuff. This imbalance weighs every game heavily in favor of the squad and makes the entire multiplayer a hollow addition to the game.

With that in mind, the lack of any online community makes sense. It’s nearly impossible to find someone to play with. You can spend hours sitting at the matchmaking screen without success, and even if you do get into a game, it won’t be worth the wait.

Anomaly 2 expands on its mechanics in some clever ways. The imbalanced multiplayer doesn’t add anything to the package, but it doesn’t detract anything from the package either. The single-player is still an impressive, smartly designed game that’s more than worth your time.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image