Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

11 Bit Studios is back with Anomaly Korea, the followup to the excellent 2011 tower offense title Anomaly: Warzone Earth. Picking up after the events of the last game, Commander Evans finds himself trying to lead units through alien defenses in Korea instead of Baghdad this time. This means once again charting out paths for player-controlled units to follow, buying upgrades and new units when appropriate, and most importantly, laying out the powerups. These prove to be the decisive factor in battles, as getting to repair units, drop decoys, or summon airstrikes can mean the difference between a critical unit surviving or potentially ruining the entire mission.

Anomaly Korea subscribes to the philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as it doesn’t stray far from the original game. This is hardly a bad thing, as the conceit is still one of the few attempts on flipping the script on tower defense out there, and it’s handled about as well as it could be. Finding a way to cut the optimal path through defenses satisfies my inner tactician. The missions still present diifferent choices to be made: is it worth going after the carusarum buildups for additional money, though those paths be riskier, or is it better to just plow on ahead and stay alive?

Each mission seems to throw new wrinkles at the player that will affect their strategy. New players don’t need to worry, as the game feels set up to be a little more hand-holding, especially on Casual difficulty, but that’s where the Advanced and Hardcore difficulties come in for experienced players. The game looks great on the iPhone 5 with the advanced visual effects in play, but it still looks plenty detailed and even surprisingly colorful on even the iPad 2. Oh, and the game (thankfully as one universal app instead of an SD/HD split) has iCloud support for carrying progress across devices – even resuming from checkpoints.

While there’s new objectives, a new unit and new enemies to take on, the core of the game is largely the same as the original Anomaly. As well, the twelve story missions included at launch prove to be a short affair when tackled on Casual difficulty, though Advanced and Hardcore come out swinging. The real challenge of the game comes from two sources: one, tackling the story missions on a higher difficulty. Second, the Art of War missions, which give the player set challenges to take on, such as surviving with three APCs and limited powerup supplies. These are unlocked throughout the game, and prove to be very difficult.

While the new boss is the same as the old boss with Anomaly Korea, that’s not a bad thing, because this game still is boss.

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