Anomaly 2 preview: Tug o' war

Anomaly 2 presents multiplayer for the first time in the series, pitting human-attacking convoys against stationary alien emplacements. The deciding factor in victory is points – the alien side must defend its generators and build harvesters to mine points away from the human side, while the humans aim to simply destroy every alien present.

It's a frantic tug of war as each side desperately scans the battlefield for vulnerability in the others' ranks. As the humans, ignoring harvesters, purchasing the wrong units or failing to sell and swap out units at integral times will easily spell death. The aliens have an arguably tougher job and lack the resources to build up defenses across the entire map, so it's more about predicting where the humans will go and taking care to build harvesters at the right time.%Gallery-180155% One of Anomaly 2's big hooks is morphing, essentially doubling the abilities of every unit in the game. An APC with a standard rate of fire and decent armor can morph into a bipedal mech with a much higher rate of fire, but lower defense. Knowledge of these alternate states for units and careful deployment are paramount to success.

The alien side benefits from alternate functionality on towers as opposed to morphing. Double-clicking a tower can activate a special ability that slows down the human's convoy, keeping it within the kill zone for an extended period. Combat profiles add another modifier into the mix – kamikaze your turrets for extra explosive damage or go into a berserker mode that increases damage dealt at the sacrifice of damage taken.

A match only ends once one side has sapped away enough points from the other – the humans destroying generators or the aliens stopping advances and building harvesters. It's quite intense to play Anomaly 2 multiplayer – a daunting task for those uninitiated into the tower-offense genre – but if you've played every Anomaly like I have, it's pretty easy to jump right in. As the most requested feature in the series, the Anomaly 2 multiplayer I sampled here at GDC looks like it was crafted with care, delivering a distinct experience on each side.

Anomaly 2 launches on PC, Mac and Linux this spring for $14.99.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.