Only the Multiplayer’s a Mistake in Anomaly 2
It must be tough to be a single-player developer these days, even when you work on independent, self-published releases. There must be all of this pressure coming from somewhere to include multiplayer options, whether it fits your title or not, so much so that there are high-profile releases who have multiplayer tacked on by other teams, creating an odd experience. 11 bit studios did all their own work on Anomaly 2‘s competitive multiplayer, and I actually have to give them credit for dabbling in a field that’s relatively new, that of Tower Offense, which now goes head-to-head with Tower Defense. It just feels a bit wonky and unbalanced: all of the clever tactical planning that goes into the single-player campaign–a sort of RTS-on-rails that echoes the more inventive levels of Starcraft 2–is thrown out the window for the multiplayer, which forces players to pursue cheap options and to take advantage of slow-moving units and widely spaced maps. Despite the game focusing on your control of a mobile commander who is attempting to guide a convoy of morphing weaponry through a grid of killer turrets, the competitive mode favors the sedentary towers and their unseen overlord, as it’s far easier for this player to swap out unit types for ones that the convoy is weak to than it is for the assaulting commander to protect and swiftly shift gears. (For instance, the towers inexorably continue to be built even as the convoy’s commander calls a tactical pause in order to change the order of his units; by the time he’s unpaused, he’s dealing with an entirely new set of enemies.) All this said, the single-player is excellent, and worth the purchase price alone: you can read the full review here, at Slant Magazine.