Many iOS and Android developers avoid putting the number "2" at the end of their games, perhaps to avoid the grand expectations that come from fans hungry for sequels. Instead of the Cut the Rope 2, there's Cut the Rope Experiments. Similarly, Angry Birds 2 is nowhere to be found, with Seasons/Rio/Space/Star Wars in its place. And in the case of Anomaly Warzone Earth 2, we have Anomaly Korea, a follow-up to 11 Bit Studio's outstanding strategy effort that feels more like an expansion. Semantics aside, and despite covering familiar territory, this title delivers the delightful head-scratching play that made its predecessor a critically acclaimed smash hit.
The primary theme is reverse tower defense. Instead of carefully positioning units to repel an invasion, you're put in charge of a convoy making its way through alien-ravaged Korea, with the goal of traveling from point A to point B with the fewest casualties possible. What's especially cool is the ability to plan the convoy's route beforehand and during missions via a tactical map that not only displays enemy locations, but also clusters of Carusaurum, the game's virtual currency. Much head scratching ensues, as you figure out the best logical paths to take. You can even reposition the order of units on the fly, in case the leader takes excessive damage.
Speaking of units, Anomaly Korea comes with six types, the majority of which 11 Bit Studios pulled from Warzone Earth, like the well armored APC and rocket-firing Crawler; a newcomer, the Horangi battle tank, packs a nice punch. Just keep in mind that you won't be able to call upon them all at once, and the aliens are more than capable of turning these vehicles into twisted wrecks, but that's what abilities are for. Throughout a level, planes drop supplies that, when collected, imbue your convoy with different abilities. A Boost, for instance, temporarily increases firepower, while the Air Strike results in mass destruction. Perhaps the most important, Repair, heals whatever unit wander through its radius, while Smoke reduces enemy accuracy. Rounding out the package is the Decoy, which is exactly what it sounds like, a virtual doppelganger designed to draw attention away from you.
The resulting carnage that ensues is at times thrilling, depending on whether you're on the attacking or receiving end. There's also a collection of side missions known as Art of War that supplements the main game. These add specific conditions you must follow to succeed, like defeating enemies using a set number of abilities, and/or having to keep everyone alive.
At the same time, these levels can't hide the fact that, for now, Anomaly Korea only has 12 primary stages. Challenging ones, yes, but not enough content to call this a true sequel, or even a game that'll last several hours. As for gameplay changes, it's basically Warzone Earth with new scenery.
That, however, shouldn't prevent you from spending the $2.99 to download it. Anomaly Korea covers familiar territory, but said territory was great to begin with, and with the possibility of new missions via free update(s) well into 2013, there's plenty of room to grow. Suffice to say, if you loved Warzone Earth, you'll find much to rave about with this spirited follow-up.
Review code provided by Chillingo.
What's Hot: Builds off the successful formula while adding a fresh perspective to tower defense, planning routes ahead of time with the tactical map, plenty of explosions and pretty scenery, Art of War bonus stages.
What's Not: Plays exactly like its predecessor, only 12 missions.