Reviewed for: Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade)
Also available for: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, Windows PC, Mac
From: 11 bit studios
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ (fantasy violence, language)
Tower defense games have grown so prevalent that even the ones that mix in other genres and rewrite the rules of engagement are cropping up at a dangerous rate. "Anomaly Warzone Earth" dials it back with a presentation and control scheme that's pure fundamental tower defense, but it flips the script by giving you the keys to the offense - a convoy of tanks, mechs and other vehicles - and tasking you with blasting through an alien defense.
The general rules of tower defense apply, but rather than lay out towers and turrets, you're assembling a convoy lineup and drawing a path for it to follow through and around the streets of Baghdad's and Tokyo's urban battlegrounds. Vehicle upgrades and repairs replace tower upgrades, a handful of power-ups let you devise temporary defenses for your offense, and when all else fails, a terrific Tactical View interface lets you re-chart your course at any time. Nothing "Earth" does represents a seismic shift for tower defense, but the change of possession is a welcome twist for a genre that could use a few more of them.
The game's strategic interfaces are polished, the in-game action is really visually impressive, and the maps grow considerably elaborate as the multiple campaigns - one traditional and built around a storyline, the others driven more by scores, enemy waves, time limits and survival - progress.
"Earth's" Xbox 360 version is late out the gate compared to its counterparts, and the control pad is (while plenty sufficient) less ideal than the other versions' touchscreen and mouse controls. But along with the Tokyo missions that previously were exclusive to the Mac and PC, the 360 version gets a set of six Tactical Trials scenarios that (true to the name) task you with making creative use of limited resources to complete trials that play like riddles as much as they do missions.