Unlike most tower defense games, the player isn't merely a spectator. A unit commander runs around on foot with your squad, and can be used to distract the enemy for a few seconds, or, more importantly, to pick up and deploy power ups, which are dropped periodically from friendly aircraft. These power ups are critically important, each one able to turn the tide of a battle. You can repair units, send out a decoy, create a smoke screen to reduce damage, or even call in an airstrike to lay down a zone of flaming death. Rationing power up usage is one of the most interesting decisions to be made in Anomaly: Warzone Earth.
Perhaps the most critical aspect of your offensive plan takes place on the map screen. By pulling up the map, you can plot which path your forces will take. You will likely spend much time looking for weak areas, where towers are spread out, and your forces can take them down more easily. A common tactic is to circle around a block repeatedly, allowing shields to regenerate in between, to protect expensive units. It's a nice twist to the typical strategy found in the genre, but is a bit hard to manage with a controller; it was a system clearly designed for a mouse or touch screen, and doesn't translate particularly well to a joystick.
The real question is, what about the co-op? Co-op mode is composed of a few maps, each with several different areas that must be overcome in a time limit. How exactly does the game work with two commanders? The controls are split precisely down the middle. Player one can buy or upgrade units, while player two controls the map screen. Both players control two of the power ups, as well, though each can use a "boost" ability to increase the effectiveness of the other player's power ups.
This system sounds fair enough on paper, but in practice, it's rather clunky. Credits are so hard to come by, there really isn't much for player one to do. In comparison, player two makes almost all the important decisions due to exclusive control of unit paths. The co-op mode isn't broken by any means, but it doesn't have the urgency or addictiveness of the single player campaign. I appreciate what the developers were trying to do, but the co-op mode feels crippled, not compelling. It's better than nothing, though, and works adequately if a less experienced player wants to join in - just make sure they are player one.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth is an interesting game, and fans of the tower defense genre will really appreciate the distinctive take on the typical setup. As a single player game, it is a tight, hectic, experience with plenty of strategy and action. Co-op mode is an interesting diversion, but doesn't really have what it takes to keep you playing for very long. It would be hard to justify a double dip for the co-op mode for even the most ravenous fan, but for those who haven't played it before, the PSN version Anomaly: Warzone Earth is worth a look.
The Co-Op Experience: Two local co-op players can share duties in this tower defense RTS hybrid. One controls the troops, the other plans the strategy.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.