11 Bit Studios has certainly carved out a niche for themselves in the tower defense market by innovating the core gameplay of the genre. By flipping it upside down, you’ll be placing offensive units on the battlefield instead of immobile towers in a defensive manner. Anomaly 2 was originally released last year (2013) on PC, but this marks the first time the sequel has been ported to a current-generation console.
Most of the world becomes a frozen tundra during the war, as the remaining Earth forces are fighting a losing battle. The final hope hinges on the recovery of lost plans for a project that could wipe out the entire mechanical invading alien race. The narrative plays out across more than a dozen (14 to be exact) story-driven chapters. Anomalies are still appearing across the globe, and unseen enemies not found in the original are waiting to be found. Easily moving in and out of the battlefield, it is your duty as the commander to direct your offensive units along defined routes.
The action becomes dynamic as the units are capable of transforming into various forms, depending on the situation. For example, Assault Hounds are capable of slowly spinning a powerfully gatling gun, but the alternate walker form (Hell Hounds) features a powerful short-ranged set of flamethrowers. With specific enemies (or “tin cans” as they are referred to) being able to transform into more powerful versions by absorbing incoming fire, swapping to the appropriate firing mode becomes a necessity.
Each mission requires you, the commander, to strategically lead your troops through the maze of inconveniently placed alien towers. Running ahead of your units, enemies will target you and will easily take you down in only a handful of shots. Your health regenerates, so taking a single shot to keep your units alive is a sound strategy. At any point you can pull back from the action, pausing the game to alter the route of your units. Doing so will allow you to choose safer avenues than the one you are currently traveling on, as well as ensuring you don’t miss any pick-ups.
Assisting your units becomes a necessity, as without your support they won’t stand a chance. Using your abilities, you are capable drop healing circles for your vehicles to drive through, provide a decoy that will draw enemy fire away from the units, as well as a couple of other abilities gained in later missions. You are able to replenish your stock for abilities by picking up drops from destroyed enemy units. For this reason, it becomes imperative to try and seek out all enemies if your supply is running low. If you don’t want to pause the action to bring up the ability menu, the directional pad serves as an instant shortcut.
Anomaly 2 features a fleshed out multiplayer mode, forcing one player to revert back to the classic way of playing tower defense games of thinking defensively. The multiplayer is limited to online only, and as it stands, the population playing the game online is far too low. While I was able to connect to a couple of matches over a short period of time, I did have to wait significantly before finding an opponent.
If you are looking for a new multiplayer game to play on your PlayStation 4, Anomaly 2 may not fit the bill, unless the population increases. The narrative missions provide a challenging experience, even for veterans of the traditional tower defense genre and Anomaly series.
Note: The Anomaly 2 review was written based on a digital PS4 version of the game.