Geometry Wars is one of my favourite shooters for the Xbox360 and Nintendo DS. A Geometry Wars for the iPhone has been at top of my wish list for quite some time. Anomaly is the closest attempt I have come across. Is it good enough or should you hope and pray for an official version?
Graphically Anomaly bears a lot of resemblance to Geometry Wars. Enemies are geometric shapes zooming around with different behaviours. Some chase you down while others just float around creating walls. You also get targeted by missiles attacking targeted areas making camping on the spot obsolete. The spaceship you pilot looks like a futuristic shrimp with a swivelling turret on top. I really like the space background, it feels organic and changes colour while you play.
There are a whole bunch of game modes, and the gameplay really differs between them. In campaign mode you get to destroy anomalies in mazes. This mode was the first I tried and I were ready to give up on Anomaly after 15 minutes. Some amiral dude lets you choose an anomaly on a intergalactic map, each anomaly has different phases as well. All in all there are 11 anomalies giving the game a total of 40 playable phases. The phases have different objectives but all of these only consists of destroying a set number of stationary objects or picking up packages. It plays slowly and the controls are not suited for fine-tuned obstacle navigation. Often I die by some electric walls when I can’t pass through a narrow space. To have walls and narrow passages really don’t fit in the theme and feeling of outer space. Once you fulfil the objectives you get transported back to the map screen. There are no upgrades available, a feature I really liked in Geometry Wars.
Then there is arcade mode, and it really saves my day. There are a three different modes to play: classic, timed and objective. Classic is the mode I really enjoyed the most as it really resembles the frantic gameplay of Geometry Wars. Hordes of geometric shapes attack you, and survival gets harder and harder. Eventually you will be overwhelmed die, and get to enter your name on the high score leader board.
The controls are simple to use but could be tweaked a bit. The game is played in portrait mode with two circular control pads at the bottom. The left one controls steering while the right one controls aiming/firing. If you shake your iPhone you set of a bomb killing everything around you. There is also a life bar between the pads, but it is hard to see when you play as your fingers cover it. The controls work quite well, and you can fly one way and shoot another effortlessly. I have noticed on several occasions that the movement controls has got stuck in one direction. Really annoying when navigating the mazes but doesn’t effect the game in arcade mode.
Anomaly has a lot of positive things going for it; the controls, graphics and sound. Sadly the game modes are limited, and I would love to see a story mode with the frenzy of arcade mode with some upgrades to purchase. Heck I want Anomaly to be Geometry Wars!
Presentation & Graphics
The same type of retro graphics found in Geometry Wars. I am not really a fan of the craft you get to pilot but at least it has it’s own style. Backgrounds are great and overall the presentation is really good. I usually dislike large huds, and in Anomaly the controls/hud occupies one third of the screen, but I don’t think it is that disturbing. The hud also changes colour depending on the colour of space. The telling of the story is stale, and doesn’t draw me in at all with still pictures at the map screen.
A choice to play in landscape mode would be appreciated as the screen can feel cramped when having both thumbs next to each other. People with large thumbs beware!
Arcade mode is really frantic, and satisfies my shooter needs. Campaign mode is slower, and to some this is a better mode as there are clear objectives.
The controls are responsive, but not suited for navigating narrow passages. To shake the iPhone while holding it in portrait mode feels unsafe. I am afraid I will throw my iPhone away every time I use a bomb.
A rather hefty campaign mode, three arcade modes and achievements to unlock should equal great value. Sadly the game modes feel a bit lacking, and I doubt you will play more than one. Either campaign or arcade depending on what you want from a shooter. The story is not interesting enough to make you play through it again.
A competent shooter for your iPhone, not Geometry Wars but the closest we have as of today. At $2.99 it is a bit pricey, and as there is no lite version I think you should be hesitant if you have large thumbs. If you are a slender thumbed person longing to kill some geometric forms this gets my recommendation even at $2.99.