Anomaly 2 Preview: Transformers, Roll Out
The second vehicle is not unlike StarCraft’s siege tank. The Sledge Hammer, as it’s known, has enormous range and firepower, but its turret can’t rotate more than 30 degrees to each side, which makes it garbage up close. But morph it into its alternate form, a spider-like Rocket Hammer mech, and it can fire off rockets at close range to take down enemies in different situations. The result is a set of vehicles that can be used in a variety of settings, and the ability to change your strategy on the fly as you fight through different situations.
Vehicles also carry additional attributes that didn’t make their way into the first two Anomaly titles. For example, the Assault Hound is pretty crap at the opening of each battle, as its fire rate is dependent on its barrels heating up. But once it gets going, the Hound becomes much more powerful — and that means you want to send it at enemy towers, rather than avoiding them, because it’s much more effective when fighting more often.
Conversely, there are some enemy towers that can adapt to different situations, too, and require you to rethink your strategy. One harmless ball of rocks automatically draws your vehicles toward targeting it, absorbing the energy they dump into it. Hit it with too much energy and it’ll turn into a powerful electricity based turret that can decimate your forces. You can easy take the thing down with siege units, but if your assault hounds are up front, they quickly trigger the turret transformation as their fire rate ramps up. These sorts of situations mean that there are even more tactical changes you’ll be making on the fly, because the formation of your vehicles can be changed at any time, and you’ll need to get your assault units clear so the siege units can take the tower out fast.
Other enemy units, like the line-based Scorcher turret, now have the ability to adjust their firing areas based on the situation: Previously, they could only fire in a straight line down a road, but can now adapt and burn a whole horizontal patch in front of them as well. The result is that players need to draw enemy fire with power-ups like decoy units, forcing the turret to fire away from the angle that would do the most damage.
I didn’t get to play a lot of Anomaly 2, but what I did play manages to refresh much of the original Anomaly formula while still staying true to it. Overall, it felt like Anomaly 2 required much more strategy, planning and quick thinking than the original two games. Sure, those titles have you quickly deploying power-ups and altering your route, but in Anomaly 2, there are a number of additional moving parts that require your attention. I found myself stopping, adjusting my route, switching up my formation, morphing my units and laying down power-ups almost constantly, which creates a much more active version of the tower offense strategy setup the franchise first started with.
Expect to see Anomaly 2 in sometime this spring.