Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Tower offence.

Hands up who likes tower defence games?

I'm waving my arms and bouncing on my chair like the boy in the maths test who really needs a wee. I'm hooked on the things in all their forms, from Flash Element TD to Field Runners, from to Hidden Path's excellent Defence Grid: The Awakening to the multitudes on the Android Marketplace. On the bus, while the bath's running, even in the bath, they scratch my itch.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth, from ex CD-Projekt staffers 11 bit, brings a zesty little tweak to the genre: it places you in charge of mobile forces and leaves tower-construction to the AI.

Serious buffs may have come across the likes of Anti-TD in the past, which embraces similar concepts, but with nowhere near the level of scope and substance of Anomaly. On a similar scale to Defence Grid, it's a more complex piece of development than standard TD fare, with crisp, pleasing visuals and some interesting tactical challenges all of its own.

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Certain enemy turrets trigger global visual effects when they fire to emphasise their sheer naughtiness.

A colossal alien mothership has been spotted heading for earth, but just as it reaches the atmosphere, we blast it to smithereens. Go us! Those smithereens, however, have rained down on earth's cities, where they've set up domes of crackling energy: the game's eponymous Anomalies.

What's going on inside those opaque bubbles? Some kind of alien disco? One can only hope. It's your job to find out, with your hand-picked troupe of combat vehicles.

Your armoured column consists of up to six units and there are six types to deploy. Some are lightly armed but heavily armoured; designed to soak up fire so your more lightly shielded big-gunners can go to work. Some offer area-effect shielding to the units in front and behind them.

They all move at the same pace. By flicking to the command screen you're able to path them around the grid-like cityscapes, choosing which direction they turn at each junction. It's essentially a series of waypoints you set on the way to the mission's key target.

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Intelligent pathing is the key to success. Tower Defence AI in general could learn a thing or two from you.

Your vehicles may move at a plodding pace but the decision-making and the action is intense nonetheless. This is thanks in no small part to the unit you have full movement control over: the commander.

His role is to provide tactical support to your armoured column as it ploughs inexorably toward the key alien target at the heart of each anomaly. He has no offensive capabilities, but grants limited support functions such as area-effect heals for your units, smoke-grenades to fox enemy targeting, and the deployment of decoy vehicles. The commander can dart around and collect these as powerups en-route.

The tutorial mission inserts you on the outskirts of your first anomaly-shrouded city. Radioactive debris is raining onto the roads, so it's up to you to act as human GPS and field-mechanic to your forces as they make their way into the city. This involves re-pathing them to avoid threats, repairing them as they become damaged and ordering new units onto the field if they're lost.

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