I must say that for the first half of the year, Anomaly: Warzone Earth was among my favorite Android games. It had a unique gameplay mechanic, and was simple enough to grasp for a strategy game newbie yet challenging at the same time. Now, the guys at 11 Bit Studios are back with Anomaly Korea. How does this sequel stack up against the high standards set by its predecessors?
For the uninitiated, Anomaly Korea is a reverse tower defense game, where you play the role of the attacker instead of the defender, passing through a maze of alien towers with a convoy of military vehicles and special abilities at your disposal. As the title of the game would have already suggested, the aliens have invaded the Korean peninsula and set up camp there, so it all falls down to you to get rid of these machines.
As the leader of the convoy, you get to set the route that it follows on the tactical map view. There are five abilities at your disposal, namely Boost, Repair, Smoke, Decoy and Airstrike, and you earn these through the game as you destroy enemy towers. There are also six different units that can form a part of your convoy, all of which have different capabilities in terms of attack and defense.
Controls wise, pretty much everything is done by tapping. You tap on an ability and select the location you wish to place it on, and the route in the tactical map can be changed in similar fashion. Swiping along the screen allows you to move around the map, and you can zoom in and out too. Your convoy will move automatically based on the route you’ve set, so all you have to focus on is pretty much deploying the right abilities at the right time.
For those curious how Anomaly Korea compares to AWE in terms of gameplay, there is not much of a differentiating factor. However, the new ability Boost does shake things up a bit, as it temporarily allows your attack to deal more damage and increase its fire rate. As such, enemies are lined up closer together, and it’s more action-packed since there are more of them to shoot down. There’s also one new unit (a Horangi tank) and tower (Flamer) that adds a slightly new dimension to the game.
Moving on to the graphics, Anomaly Korea has some pretty heavy visual effects. For one, there is lots and lots of smoke among other eye candy such as real-time shadows, particle effects and advanced lighting effects. There are varied environments, but the landscapes do feel a bit dull at times. The game’s also fully voice acted respectably well. In particular, the Korean officer who helps you progress adds a local flavor to the game with her thick Korean accent.
The one major addition in Anomaly Korea is the Art of War mode. This is obviously a homage to Sun Tzu (they even have his figure there), but anyway Art of War provides you with six additional levels that have very specific goals and you have to work around with limited resources. The levels are pretty short, but you’d have to get your strategy absolutely spot-on if you want to complete them. Even the most battle-hardened Anomaly veterans should find these a challenge!
One complaint is that the campaign – just like AW:E – is a little on the shorter side of things. You could possibly play through all 12 levels at one go, and take less than 3 hours in doing so. Nevertheless, there is a good amount of replay value because there are three difficulty settings. I’d reckon you play on Casual or Advanced mode the first time round, and then have a go at Hardcore while aiming for all gold medals. This is because the Hardcore mode will require you to think faster and strategy becomes an even more important element (as opposed to blindly deploying abilities here, there and everywhere).
Anomaly Korea is a really good game in its own right, but it is very much similar to its predecessor. Instead of a full-on sequel, it feels more like a DLC pack. I was expecting, well, more radical changes. Having said that though, the subtle changes made here ultimately makes Anomaly Korea an improvement on AW:E on the overall, and as they say, why fix something when it ain’t broke, right?
Devoid of in-app purchases that plague many strategy titles these days, Anomaly Korea is well worth the asking price, irrespective of whether you played the original or are a fan of strategy games.