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Review: Anomaly Korea for Android

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Title: Anomaly Korea

Price: $2.99 (sale price)

System(s): Android, iOS

Release Date: December 20, 2012

Publisher (Developer): 11 bit studios, Chillingo (11 bit studios)

Maturity Rating: 9+ for Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes Frequent/Intense Cartoon or Fantasy Violence

Here it is folks. The sequel to 2011′s Anomaly Warzone Earth has arrived on both Android and iOS. Anomaly Korea carries on 11 bit studios’ successful venture in making the tower offense genre approachable, challenging and downright fun. However, the studio may have played it a bit too safe with Anomaly Korea.

In Anomaly Korea, you control a small group of vehicles through various locations across a war-torn South Korea. Your enemies are stationary alien machines that will always shoot at your caravan whenever it comes within range. The objective on most stages is to navigate through these machines by planning the most efficient route possible. Your vehicles have enough firepower to level any single tower, but without a sound strategy, you’ll be cut to bits in no time.

Mobile Battalion

The vehicle selection in Anomaly Korea is mostly unchanged from Anomaly Warzone Earth. The returning vehicles include the APC, Crawler and Shield Generator. Even though these vehicles serve their purpose, I would have liked to have seen all new vehicles. At the very least, I wish the vehicles looked differently this time around. After all, we’re playing in a brand new country with a new commander.

There are some new vehicles in Anomaly Korea though. We have the Horangi tank which coverts energy from fallen towers into a massive blast, and a supply truck that creates powerups. I found the Horangi tank to be irreplaceable at times. It’s essential to have one as the first line of defense. Its armor is the heaviest out of any vehicle and its firepower when combined with the new “Boost” ability (more on that later) can shred through towers with ease. I just wish the other vehicles were given a little something extra to make them feel more special. As an avid player of the first game, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sameness wash over me as I deployed yet another APC and Crawler. If you’re new to the Anomaly series, it’ll all feel fresh and pretty awesome overall.

Much like the vehicles, powerups haven’t gotten much of an overhaul either. The repair ability gets a pass because it’s the only way to fix damaged units, but the majority of the powers have been brought over from the previous game. The smokescreen, decoy and precision bombing powers have all returned and serves the same purpose they did in Anomaly Warzone Earth. The smokescreen makes it harder for towers to hurt you, decoys give towers something to shoot at besides you and the bomb can take out clusters of towers no matter where you units are in relation to them. Again, they’re all effective, but a new arsenal of powers would have made Anomaly Korea so much better.

One new power in this game is called Boost. When it’s activated, any friendly unit within its effect radius gets increased attack power, range and fire rate. In my opinion, it’s the best offensive power at your disposal. It also makes your units feel much more powerful. I also think 11 bit studios even cranked up the volume of your bullets when Boost is in play.

Brains Over Brawn

I’ve mentioned a few times how Anomaly Korea recycled units and powers from Anomaly Warzone Earth, but some good changes have been made as well. Take the mission objectives for example. It’s not just about going from point A to point B. Many of the levels have stipulations that require brains over firepower. For instance, there’s one level where enemy towers will bombard your units with explosives if you don’t get outside their blast zone in time. Here’s the catch, a countdown timer will start once you cross a certain point. Your tactical map will show you how long it will take you to get around the tower depending on the route you take. This means you have to not only figure out the fastest route, but you also have to choose the path of least resistance because other enemy towers are still active.

In another level, you have access to an air strike that will destroy all towers along a specific path. You have to decide when those strikes will take place because you can only do it a couple of times. If you don’t make your units navigate in the same direction of those air strikes, you probably won’t make it through. These are just two examples of how much more strategic Anomaly Korea is over its predecessor. It’s a good thing the story missions require so much additional strategy because it’ll be hard to complete the Art Of War mode without it.

The Art of War is a series of trials that put you in very difficult situations with restrictions. They don’t carry on for as long as regular missions, but trust me, you don’t want them to. Art of War is all about trial and error. Sometimes it seems like you aren’t given enough supplies to complete the trial, but you really do have all you need. You just need to figure out exactly when and how to use what you have at your disposal. If you’re the impatient type, Art of War will can send you into fits of mild rage. However, if you really want to flex your brain muscles, Art of War will not disappoint you.

Conclusion

Anomaly Korea is a winner despite the things I dinged it for. I wished this sequel presented us with all new units and powers. There’s so much room for creativity in a game like this, and I don’t know why 11 bit studios decided against it. But even an Anomaly veteran like myself shouldn’t pass this game up. Anomaly Korea isn’t just about blowing stuff up. This is a thinking person’s game. You’re a small group of soldiers taking on impossible odds and looking darn good while doing it. Brute strength along won’t be enough to win, nor should it. If you agree with me, then suit up and go save South Korea.

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