I really didn't expect 11 Bit Studios to top my Anomaly Korea experience from last December with its latest release Anomaly 2. How many sequels, in whatever form of art, can fully supplant its predecessor? Anomaly 2 was already stepping on first rate territory, and even if it hit the same notes as Anomaly Korea, the song would still be a hit. But maybe yesterday's glories may be forgotten with an even better alternative.

Anomaly 2 continues mankind's fatalistic yet determined battle against alien machines, a  showdown many gamers can appreciate in a deeper fashion thanks to Pacific Rim. Although it creatively bends the tower defense genre by having players do the attacking with the aliens serving as the defenders, Anomaly 2 isn't content with that ingenious twist and places all the action within an epic backdrop.

If you love learning about every detail about your mission before you fire a single shot, you can listen to the various commanders give the lowdown on your latest enemies as well as breakdown on the arsenal you have at your disposal. Impatient adrenaline junkies who simply crave the firefight simply need to hit the arrow key on the right hand corner of their device to skip all the chatter.

You will need a bit of instruction during the first few rounds of combat, as an in-depth tutorial is employed to get you ready for the battlefield. During these virtual reality based engagements, you will learn how to morph your units into close combat fighting machines, employ decoys to distract your adversary, and heal, as well as upgrade, your bloodied troops during their fight. Since this is an iOS title, the control mechanic simply requires  touch and tap maneuvering, along with a slide of a finger if you want to rearrange your troop position. The complexity lies in multi-tasking all of your commands while in the middle of all those explosions, as your units can be eliminated at a moment's notice.

Anomaly 2's graphics are simply sublime, accurately capturing a wasteland almost bereft of human presence. A metropolis is torn into shreds, and the only way to preserve mankind is to further tear everything down in your path, as aliens have camped out and nested in desolate buildings that were once teeming with life. Even though the right hand arrow button can move your units in an expedient fashion, I prefer going at the normal rate to simply enjoy the intricate details of my surroundings. A zoom in camera also enables players go get an up close and personal look at their ground forces.

By clicking on the tactical icon on the left side of your device, you can survey the terrain and move your units to whichever direction suits your goals. Since I prefer taking out my enemies one monster tower at a time, I love circling the same section for maximum firepower effect. Besides, directing your units into the middle of a hornet's nest is never a great idea, unless you have a lot of repair upgrades to spare or vehicles to fight with. My tactical strategy in the graphic below is marked in blue, with the mechanized monsters marked in red.

There is also a mulitplayer mode which gives games a chance to compete online, playing as either the tower defense side or the attackers. Although my time on this section was limited to a half hour, I never had difficulties finding an opponent to battle. Even if you master the campaign mode, playing multiplayer expands Anomaly 2 into an even more nuanced direction thanks to the ability to battle as the enemy. Between both styles of game play, the replay factor for Anomaly 2 is at an all time high. Variety is the spice of life, and it definitely gives tower defense apps an extra level of gravitas.

On a pure visceral aspect, Anomaly 2 is just pure, unadulterated fun. The strategy and the epic backdrop are all there to enjoy, but the app also is able to satisfy one's more bellicose instincts. It's rare when a game can satisfy every aspect of one's cravings, and when that app is available for download, there's really only one alternative. It may cost five bucks, but this is an alien hunt you won't want to miss.


App Store Link: Anomaly 2 for iPhone & iPad | By Chillingo Ltd | Price: $4.99 | Version: 1.0 | 1.20 MB | Rating 9+

9.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating