The original Anomaly Warzone Earth for iPhone was the perfect example of how a solid idea combined with brilliant presentation can grow into something special. So special, in fact, that it received a Pocket Gamer Platinum Award when we reviewed it.
Anomaly Korea isn't so much a sequel as it is an extension. A few bits have been added, a few rough edges smoothed over, but the core of the game is the same as it ever was.
That's not to say that Anomaly Warzone Earth's reversal of the tower defence genre needed much tweaking, or that the changes that have been made aren't welcome.
This is still an excellent, engaging strategy title that doesn't feel like anything else on the App Store.Korea soldiers
Where the first game was set in and around Baghdad after an invasion by giant robot machines, the setting here has shifted to Korea. Save for a different soundtrack and a few different accents, though, you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference.
If you never played Anomaly Warzone Earth, then the gameplay might come as a surprise to you. This is tower defence flipped on its head. Rather than playing the towers, you're playing the convoy of military vehicles trying to make it through the hail of fire.
Each mission starts with a briefing where you're told what you need to do to accomplish your goals. These can be as varied as protecting transport vehicles, rescuing VIPs, or destroying every alien tower in a certain area.
Then you buy your vehicles and set your route. There are a variety of junctions and crossroads, and tapping on them changes the direction your convoy will move in when it reaches them. Once you're set, you're dropped into the fray.Offensive behaviour
You can alter your route at any time during the journey, changing direction to court the attentions of enemy barrage weapons, or sneaking off track to try and earn yourself some more of the made-up element that acts as the game's currency.
You can also earn cash by destroying enemy positions, and you can spend it on upgrading your existing vehicles, or adding different tanks and support machines to the convoy. Various boosts and special moves are accessed in a panel on the left of the screen.
Tapping on one of these and then tapping on a position on your route creates a target. As your trucks and tanks push through this target they're given a shooting buff, some repairs, or the cover of a cloud of smoke. A decoy ability lets you fool enemy towers into wasting their firepower on a hologram.
Each level offers plenty of different routes, and there are always rewards for heading down the riskier alleyways. The game is gorgeous, too, with the crumbling cities and factories you're blasting through shimmering to the laser blasts and explosions of your resistance.Shooting gallery
If you played and loved Anomaly Warzone Earth, then you've probably already downloaded Anomaly Korea, and you're probably having a blast working through the campaign. The varied levels keep things interesting, with some turning into other all-out assaults and others forcing you to sneak around in your giant tanks.
A super-tough Trials mode unlocks after you've played through some of the campaign, too, letting you hone your skills in increasingly difficult and desperate scraps.
There are a few things missing, the most significant being multiplayer options, and the campaign itself is a little shorter than last time around. Thankfully, these little niggles don't detract too much from the spectacle.
The only real shame is that the game doesn't add anything revolutionary to the template its predecessor laid down, which is why this new entry in the series doesn't quite scale the heights of the first. Still, Anomaly Korea rounds off the year in bombastic, beautiful style.