Anomaly 2 Review

Regardless if you choose to play by yourself or with other players, Anomaly 2 is a gratifying strategy game that will keep you coming back for more.

The original Anomaly became popular for turning the tower defense concept on its head. Basically, instead of playing as the defensive towers that had to protect a fragile base from a wave of enemies, the unconventional strategy game encouraged you to play as the convoy of enemies. The result was a really entertaining game that rewarded you for carefully planning your route and for using various power-ups at the precise moment. Thankfully, Anomaly 2 continues the series’ tradition, at the same time it adds a creative multiplayer mode. Regardless if you choose to play by yourself or with other players, Anomaly 2 is a gratifying strategy game that will keep you coming back for more.

Anomaly 2 is set in the year 2034 AD. Sixteen years have passed since the events of the original Anomaly, but not a lot has changed. What you need to know is that in this dystopian future, Earth has been invaded by a race of mechanical aliens known as Machines. I could go on and on about the story, but the only reason why there’s an underlying narrative here is so that you can blow up alien-made constructions. Fortunately, the blowing up towers part is extremely entertaining.

Anomaly 2 Screenshot 01

You know what they say: the best defense is a good offense.

In Anomaly 2, you assume the role of a commander who’s sent to various parts of the globe to investigate anomalies. The commander is in charge of selecting units, carefully planning a route, upgrading vehicles and placing abilities. A squad contains up to six units and each of these can morph into alternate version of itself. Morphing a given unit means that its statistics (range, power and shield) will change. Transforming vehicles is essential for victory, since different types of vehicles have different range, damage or armor capabilities. Apart from planning a route via a tactical view map, the commander also deploys abilities, such as decoys or repair.

Missions tend to follow the same pattern, though this doesn’t mean they are predictable. On the contrary, each of the fourteen missions introduces a new unit or mechanic, so seldom do these assignments become repetitive. Overall, the single-player campaign manages to keep you engaged all the way through. There’s always new enemies, units or abilities to discover and this constantly keeps you on your toes, encouraging you to shift your strategy. Additionally, the missions feature a variety of exotic locales, including New York, Brazil and Antarctica, among other visually striking settings. Visiting these places means that you’ll be able to see iconic monuments such as the Statue of Liberty and Christ the Redeemer, among other pristine vistas.

Anomaly 2 Screenshot 02

Welcome to Rio commander!

But what do you do in these missions exactly? Here’s a sample war story: first, you open the tactical view, buy units and select the path they are going to follow to reach the desired destination. When enemies attack you, you repair units, set decoys and so on until you destroy a specific target or until you reach a safe zone. It’s worth pointing out that no two missions are alike. For instance, in one particular mission enemies come from four different directions and you need to go to each cardinal point to destroy enemy units before they annihilate your most important unit. Choosing the right units, morphing them when the situation requires it, upgrading them on the fly, figuring out the most effective path to your destination and defeating powerful towers is extremely satisfying.

Personally, I found the standard difficulty quite tough, though reducing it solved the issue. But even on the lowest difficulty setting, I found Anomaly 2 highly rewarding. That said, finishing the single-player campaign should take you around five hours, depending on the difficulty level you chose. But once you’ve finished the story missions, you can start playing the engrossing multiplayer mode.

Anomaly 2 Screenshot 03

Plan your route carefully.

The asynchronous multiplayer is really creative, putting one player in control of a squad and the other player in control of the towers. There are two ways of winning a multiplayer mode: getting the required number of points before your opponent or getting a point advantage over your rival. Naturally, the way in which you get points is by destroying enemy units. It’s worth mentioning that while Anomaly 2’s multiplayer is really inventive, the learning curve is really steep and I must admit I found its rules way too intricate. Many elements come into play at the same time and learning the basics will take you some time, especially if you play against players who are more experienced than you.

In the end, Anomaly 2 is an inspired sequel that retains all the ideas that made the original so refreshing at the same time it incorporates a fun multiplayer. The single-player campaign is rewarding and compelling and the multiplayer is really creative, but regardless of which mode is your favorite, Anomaly 2 a really entertaining strategy game that lives up to its potential.