Anomaly Korea Review
A second dose of tower defence turned on its head as Anomaly Korea hits iOS and Android
The rise of mobile gaming has served as the perfect platform for a new breed of tower defence games. When Anomaly came along in summer 2011, it set out to change the genre by turning it on its head. Suddenly, players were on the offensive rather than sussing ways to keep enemies out, and thus Anomaly Warzone Earth was a huge success. In fact it can be argued that the original was such a success, no one has really dared take on Anomaly. So we’ve had to wait for Chillingo and 11 bit studios to complete the sequel, and thankfully it seems to have been worthwhile.
Anomaly Korea will be instantly familiar in gameplay terms to anyone who went near the original, with the same top-down and two-tiered view that sees players jumping between a tactical screen where you plan routes and organise your units, and the battle map where the action unfolds. One of the things users will immediately note is different is the improvement of the visuals. Since the first Anomaly we’ve had two new iPads and the introduction of Retina display, so new things to look out for are cloud cover, better explosions, and stunning details, right down to road markings and debris.
This time around the battle against the alien machines has jumped to the Far East, as the name suggests, and there is conflict to deal with in downtown Seoul and beyond. It’s the second arguably unusual setting for Anomaly – the first game taking place in Baghdad – and Korea brings a similar freshness to proceedings; the unfamiliarity adding to the tension that runs through each level.
Another noticeable step up from the first game is the increased emphasis on tactics. The enemy is smarter and more ruthless (complete with several new, deadly towers) and so users have to make similar steps forward. Several levels within Anomaly Korea see you having to return the signature tactical map mid-level in order to alter or extend your route, as circumstances change and new areas open up. Users are also challenged to make better use of the abilities that are dropped in by air support, with certain levels placing you out of range for long periods, meaning you have to ration your repair, rapid fire, smokescreen and air support special abilities.
All this takes place within the central campaign mode of the game, but another very pleasing addition to the game that takes place outside of this arena, is a series of heavily tactical missions where you must negotiate heavily fortified enemy areas with limited resources and vehicles, instead relying on tactics to get you through. They serve as a good way to improve your in-game decision-making and ability rationing that becomes vital as you reach the latter levels of the campaign. Be warned though, this mode is anything but easy, and it will take several attempts just to pass the first mission. Luckily, more trials are unlocked as you complete campaign missions, so players can try their hand at the various trials in your own order.
In all the key areas it seems that Anomaly has taken a step forward. The soundtrack is fantastically paced alongside the gameplay, and there are new vehicles to deploy against a new range of enemy towers. Crucially though, everything that was great about the original is still here; the route planning at the start of each level and suitable vehicle selection, as well as the frantic nature of warfare once you start working your way through enemy territory. Add in the better visuals, meaner and larger range of enemies, as well as more tactically challenging levels involving time limits, artillery ranges and lack of air support, and you have pretty much the perfect upgrade on what was a fantastic original outing in iOS gaming.
The original was a new take on a genre; this game takes it to a new level.
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