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Early hands-on Anomaly 2 Preview: Tower offense just got more badass

One of the finest strategy games you can come across on Android is Anomaly: Warzone Earth, and its follow-up Anomaly Korea. For the uninitiated, both these games put a twist to the age-old tower defense formula, where instead of you being on the side of the towers, you are now in control of a convoy making its way through a maze of alien machines.

Back when Anomaly Korea released, I noted that it wasn’t actually a sequel to the first game in the series. It felt more like an expansion pack. And true enough, before long there was an Anomaly 2 on PC, and shortly afterwards, the developers announced that it’d be coming to mobile platforms, including Android of course.

Earlier yesterday, I managed to go hands-on with a preview Android build of Anomaly 2, which contained the first few levels and one of the latter ones. Want to know something really awesome? Unlike the first Anomaly game on Android, which was to a certain extent a compromise of its PC counterpart (both in terms of gameplay and visuals), Anomaly 2 is the real deal.

The core mechanics of Anomaly 2 are very much similar to the previous Anomaly games on Android. You deploy abilities on the battlefield, select your squad’s route in the tactical view map, and purchase new units or upgrade your existing ones. All of this is done using an intuitive touch interface.

But there is one notable addition… that is all of your units can morph into mechs. For instance, the most basic unit in the game, the Assault Hound can be morphed into the Hell Hound. The Hell Hound has flamethrowers on both its left and right arm, as opposed to the Hell Hound which can only fire in one direction. Hence, both have different tactical uses. When you have enemies lined up on both sides of the path, the Hell Hound is the way to go. Otherwise, the default Assault Hound is what you’d want to be using. Additionally, when morphing from one form to the other you make trade-offs in terms of firepower, armor and range.

You can morph your units from one form to the other at any time in the game, by simply double tapping on them. It’s worth pointing out that I used to cringe whenever I morphed my units on the PC version (due to more complex controls), but double-tapping on a touchscreen to do so is infinitely easier and just seems so natural.

There are a total of 15 missions here, starting you off in an ice-covered New York, before moving on to the Brazilian Amazon and finally the Antarctica. The visuals are definitely an improvement over the previous two games, with more detailed environments and additional background effects. However, I wasn’t able to appreciate the full extent of the games visuals because my tablet is fairly dated. Suffice to say, as mentioned above, the graphics are very close to the PC version, so you’d not be disappointed as far as that goes.

Other notable changes in Anomaly 2 includes two new abilities. You now have an ability that temporarily freezes enemies, and another that focuses fire. These join two other abilities that Anomaly veterans would be familiar with, repair and decoy. Almost all units are new as well, including one that strengthens the power of the abilities you deploy and another that renders you invisible from time to time.

Enemy towers are mostly the same as before, with one or two expectations. In terms of pacing, the action here is faster, and the missions are both longer and more varied. Just to give you an idea, it took me around 9 hours to beat the PC version, so there’s a decent amount of content here. There’s also 4 difficulty levels, so it’d be worth replaying the game once or twice more. Previously, you could earn medals for efficiency and ruthlessness, and now there’s a third one, swiftness (which is self-
explanatory really).

Anomaly 2 is shaping up to be a worthy successor to Anomaly: Warzone Earth. Unlike Anomaly Korea, which was a mostly “more of the same” kind of thing, Anomaly 2 is distinctive but it retains the foundations of the original. Since the preview build is a work in progress, I did find the game to lag noticeably at times, but I’ve been made aware that there’s still lots of optimizations to be done. I say, bring it on. This is one heck of a game that mobile gamers will enjoy in the not too distant future.

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