A sequel to a game that offers a welcomed twist on the tower-defense genre has arrived on Apple's interactive tablet and will keep a player embroiled in a desperate battle to save Earth.
It's 2019 in Anomaly Korea (Chillingo and 11 Bit Studios, rated 9+, reviewed with iPad 2, $2.99) and victory over an invasion of mysterious alien machines in Baghdad and Tokyo is short-lived when an infestation pops up in the Far East peninsula.
Once again, a commander plots routes for convoys of armored vehicles that must complete a path through a selection of decimated and smoldering city streets, warehouses and open terrain while stationary enemy forces wait at nearly every corner to unload heavy firepower upon them.
Each of the 12 missions begins with a strategy session tied to interacting with a tactical map. Touch arrows on the map to plan out a successful course, select vehicles and then watch them (through an over-the-top perspective) maneuver over the detailed environments, automatically firing on the enemy.
A player can alter his convoy's course mid-battle and use abilities such as smoke screens, decoys and air strikes dropped by friendly aircraft as he completes missions ranging from saving a grounded crew to recapturing a weapons factory to stealing data from enemy data banks.
Collecting chunks of the rare mineral Carusaurum and beating the enemy translates into collecting currency for purchasing more vehicles and upgrades within missions.
During the action, commanders will appreciate using mobile rocket launchers called Crawlers, supply vehicles to reload abilities and the new Harangi tanks (which, when fully loaded, also can shoot a secondary weapon).
The enemy is a dangerous lot and is just as varied with massive Flamers that melt metal over of your armored personnel carriers and a Stormray that unleashes a beam of electric energy at the closest units.
Measured chaos reigns supreme on each engagement with explosions, gun sound effects and soldier chatter. It's all embellished with a guy who sounds like the famed R. Lee Ermey belting out secondary commands or lamenting at the loss of a vehicle ("They're kicking our keisters!").
I'll also mention the oddness of an English-speaking female assistant for the Korean headquarters offering tips in a thick Asian accent. It's slightly amusing, but feels as equally politically incorrect.
I found getting through the 12 missions in Advanced mode (Casual and Hard are also options) a time-consuming and near-hair-pulling event, but very rewarding once successfully completed.
And, here's a tip worth a thousand replays: When vehicles are heavily damaged, pause the convoy in the midst of a run and move the order around to stay in the hunt or until a health restore becomes available.
In addition to the mission, commanders get an extra-difficult set of unlockable challenges called "Art of War," requiring driving convoys through heavily fortified territory and surviving against nearly insurmountable odds.
I'm already a sucker for tower-style games, but considering the price, top-notch visuals and depth of action, Anomaly Korea should thrill any strategy-loving warrior in the family.
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A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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