For a time tower defense was a fairly refreshing genre, and when developers see something new and exciting of course the inevitable wave of different titles will flow in. When the market places is drowning in Tower Defense, it really takes something unique to standout in the crowd, and for those who played the first Anomaly they undoubtedly discovered just that – a uniquely different and breath of fresh air to tower defense. Anomaly is an anomaly unto itself; it's really a tower defense game that's not a tower defense game. Instead it's about role reversal, with the concept of tower offense. You don't plot towers and defend a base. No, in the Anomaly franchise you're the creepers that move slowly across the map to destroy towers; and Anomaly 2 expands on those ideas.
Picking up several years after the events of the first game, the narrative follows a batch of militants who have band together in an attempt to dredge across an American landscape that's a frozen husk of its former self. You play as Lieutenant Simon Linx, the leader to a convoy of various mechanized vehicles. The narrative will have Linx fighting across collapsing bridges, taking cover behind a destroyed Statue of Liberty and battling through cities that lie in ruin from the Anomaly's devastating effects inflicted on the Earth. With the hopes of removing the robotic menace and returning the planet back to its natural state, Linx is tasked with a mission to construct a special weapon called Shockwave. None of the story is really praise-worthy enough to jump off the so-called page, but it was intriguing enough that I wanted to know how it would all play out by the end of the 7 hour campaign.
During Simon's quest to construct Shockwave is also when the game introduces the gameplay concepts regarding how each of the enemy towers operates and the different abilities of each war machine at Simon's disposal. The explanations are given at a steady and effective pace, which is very much needed because there a plenty of enemy towers to familiarize yourself with and even more vehicles.
For example, each vehicle has two alternate forms they can morph into with varying abilities. Like the Assault Hound that's a tank equipped with two 6-barrel Gatling guns in one form, but when transformed it's a bi-peddle mech with twin flame throwers that allow it to hit two targets simultaneously. Or the helicopter that envelopes your squad in an energy shield in one form and bends time in another to slowdown enemies' actions to a crawl. Making use of a varied squad to combat the towers' differing abilities is vital to complete missions. If you're not in control of your convoy or balancing your squad intelligently, Anomaly has no problem killing you quickly for short-sighted tactics.
To manage the battlefield you'll take direct control of Lieutenant Linx who can layout the squad's route, issue vehicle transformations, order unit upgrades, rearrange vehicles placement and even use skills to plant items around the battle field to aid your team; like decoys to draw fire away from your platoon or plot regenerative areas to repair allied vehicles. Combat is crazy and hectic, while also being strategic and layered with fluctuating levels of tactics to apply to achieve victory. With an exception to one of the final stages that slows to a screeching slow pace, and you're forced to play a stealth-like mission that's also an escort. Overall though, the battlefield is energetic, explosive and looks brilliant with spectacular details.
Some people say the devil's in the details, usually implying that the smallest nuances can have the largest changes and Anomaly 2 does just that – it's not an overhaul of the concepts from the first entry into the franchise, but it does have subtle changes and additions that are welcome. Besides, if the concept isn't broke, don't fix it. Developer 11-Bit Studios realizes this and doesn't attempt to innovate over an already innovative idea on Tower Defense and in the process, they made a great game.