iPad Game Review: Anomaly Korea (Universal) Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Anomaly Korea is the follow-up to the genre-busting reverse tower defense game, Anomaly Warzone Earth.
Anomaly Korea (AK) is a reverse tower defense game. That is, instead of placing towers and defending against waves of mobile enemies, you take-on the role of the mobile army commander, and attempt to breach the static defenses placed by the enemy. As with its predecessor, Anomaly Warzone Earth, Anomaly Korea puts you at odds with an alien invasion force, and tasks you with breaching its defenses. Over the course of AKs 12 mission campaign, you will take command of a variety of vehicles and plan their route through the city. I particularly enjoyed this aspect of the game, as there are always some very hard choices to make. Should I take the safest, most efficient route or should I go for bonuses and extra cash by forging through heavily fortified areas? If you choose the latter, you're going to need to be skillful with your boosts and special abilities. These abilities can include shooting buffs, repairs, smoke screens, and decoy holograms. Knowing what to use and when, will make the difference between success and failure. This feature really keeps you interacting with your units as they slowly roll forward and prevents you from feeling like a spectator as you play. Routes can be changed on the fly, as can the order of your units. As with the power-ups, the correct use of these abilities is critical to success; ignore them at your peril. Finally, once you cut your teeth on the campaign, the Art of War mode will be unlocked, which has much more of a puzzle feel to it than the regular campaign. It's a nice addition, and really adds to the game's value.
Anomaly Korea is a beautiful game. The weapon and shield effects glow nicely, the game map is a high-resolution rendering of a ruined and smoking city, and the interface is clean, uncluttered, and intuitive. This isn't to say that AK is a flashy game, however. The effects are subtle, and clearly designed to increase the immersion factor rather than for self-gratification.
With a game like this, sound effects are very important, and I'm happy to report that Anomaly Korea doesn't disappoint in this area, either. Weapon sounds, explosions, vehicle sounds, radio chatter; it all sounds great, especially with headphones. My only complaint in this department is the disembodied female voice that communicates with you during your missions. Adding accents to English-speaking voices can be a tricky thing. Do it right, and it really helps to suspend disbelief in a game. Do it wrong, however, and you run the risk of reinforcing uncomfortable stereotypes. I'm not saying that Anomaly Korea crosses the line, but it comes awkwardly close, and I found it a bit distracting.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Anomaly Korea has no IAPs. I am always reassured when games are released without in-app purchases because I can rest comfortably knowing that the game is properly balanced without them. Even if they're added later (barring some sneaky balance changes), they never feel necessary in games that don't build them in up-front, so I am free to partake or not.
Anomaly Korea is a fantastic reverse tower defense game. While it doesn't add significantly to the formula of its predecessor, it doesn't need to, due to its solid game design and expert implementation. If you enjoyed the first one, picking up AK is a no-brainer. Even if you passed on Anomaly Warzone Earth but enjoy tactical strategy games, you can't go wrong with Anomaly Korea. No prior experience is required.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - No retina support, but very, very good. Sound: - 4 - Great sound effects, although I found some of the voiceovers distracting. Controls: - 5 - A fantastically clean and intuitive interface. Very polished. Gameplay: - 5 - A follow-up to Anomaly Warzone Earth that is fun, varied, and accessible.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Constantly tinker with the order of your convoy, placing the least damaged units or those especially suited for known enemies up-front. Working your way through more difficult areas will net you additional cash and power-ups. Once you complete a map, try going back to see if you can do better.