A whole lot more than meets the eye.

User Rating: 9 | Anomaly: Warzone Earth PC
I wouldn't have been half as curious about this game as I was if the word 'indie' was not listed to describe it. For some time, I have been very lucky to stumble across excellent, better-than-expected games made independently. Polish Developer 11 Bit Studios has become a part of that list after their making of A:WE (Anomaly: Warzone Earth). It's not innovative in the same kind of sense as Cryostasis. In fact, a better way of describing it is saying that it's more of a Backwards-step to the style of Turret Defence Video games. But that's not all that's great about it: The sound, graphics, storyline etc all these things combine to make an engaging video game.

As for plot, you are a British Field Commander who has been called to investigate a discovered comet hurtling down towards Earth, crashing in the middle of Baghdad. This mysterious object has formed a large anomaly around it which immunizes it from Scientific analysis so in order to examine it, troops must enter and find out what is it's purpose. As you and your team move inside, you discover that this is not really a 'comet' but in fact a UFO. It has set up turrets of varied kinds on the city's soil. Soon, you are in for an excellent story-driven ride as you come to discover that this is about more than just another alien invasion.

While you work your way through the many variety of missions, the gameplay stand out as a reverse of tower-defense. Instead of deploying turrets to defend against oncoming 'enemies', you take the 'enemies' position. You control a commander on the field much like a third-person action game, only in birds-eye view. The alien turrets are positioned on sides of the city roads. In order to fight them, you deploy army vehicles that travel strictly on the roads and it is your job as the commander to look after your troops by healing them and setting up decoys and smoke-screens. There is a lot of tactical management required also because your squad advances permanently; they won't stop or go backwards so you have to devise the road routes on your map quite well if you want to look after them.

Visually, more can be said about this indie game than any other. The graphics really stand out with big detail of objects and environment, plus excellent lighting and real-world physics. All these work together to create a beautiful-looking and convincing experience of investigating an interesting mystery within a half-dead city. By far, the only thing that breaks the illusion of this game coming from a high-end developer is the restricted top-down view throughout the entire game with the absence of any cinematic cutscenes (aside from it's EXCELLENTLY done intro of the UFO crashing). Overall, you can be very impressed with what the game has to offer for the visuals.

Another thing that makes you forget this is indie is the sound. Normally I found that if most Indie games included voice-acting it would come between inconsistent to rubbish. However, this is one of the few moments where there was some potential and believability presented. Despite the characters being one-dimensional they still stand out as unique with some witty dialogue. You'll also hear plenty of explosions during the action as if you're commandering a tank army. Music sounds high-budget and superbly composed that I was disappointed that I have not come across an available purchase of the soundtrack yet.

This is not an expensive game, I was able to purchase it off Steam for only 10 US dollars. It's a fitting price since the game's story mode is quite short and lowers my rating, but the unlockable skirmish modes are still addictive and replayable. I think it's safe to say that A:WE is a very worthy package and if you have not tried it out, I suggest you ignore any discouragement from it's screenshots and give it a shot.