Fieldrunners 2

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--Fieldrunners 2 was named one of Metacritic's top reviewed iOS games of 2012!!--
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Game of the Month, July 2012: Fieldrunners 2

On the App Store, there’s no such thing as a summer slump. Sure, things heat up around the holidays, but awesome new games arrive every day throughout the year. In July, we played some of the best iOS games ever made, but only one managed to feel like both a familiar classic and a cutting-edge, modern game: Fieldrunners 2.

Tower defense games are far too common on the App Store, and the original Fieldrunners started this trend with its early presence and astounding popularity. After nearly four years, Fieldrunners 2 feels like a substantial update that puts all other tower defense games to shame. Both styles of TD games are represented here: free-form levels where you can place towers anywhere and make your own pathways, and linear levels where enemies move along a narrow route.

But that’s not the only great thing about Fieldrunners 2. The game features outstanding, detailed graphics, and simple controls that let you drag and drop towers without any delay. Plus, Fieldrunners 2 has superb level variety for a tower defense game, with extra puzzle modes and environmental obstacles that will make you feel like a brilliant four-star general.

Our runner-up for Game of the Month is Metal Slug 3, a port of an arcade classic from 2000. Not only is this shooter fun and frantic, but it has highly expressive graphics and a bizarre variety of enemies. The best part about Metal Slug 3 is that it’s compatible with both the iCade and iCade Mobile, which makes the controls disappear off the screen and lets you get even more precise movement and shooting controls. Combined with an iCade, Metal Slug 3 is arcade heaven on iOS.

Congratulations to Subatomic Studios and SNK Playmore/ DotEmu for this month’s top games! Be sure to also check out the rest of the month’s Must Haves: Spy vs Spy, ORC: Vengeance, Walking Dead: The Game, Great Big War Game, Nihilumbra, Outwitters, Kingdom Rush for iPhone, Frisbee Forever 2, and Cthulhu Saves The World.

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Fieldrunners 2 Review

The original Fieldrunners was a quirky and enjoyable take on tower defense, with a fast pace that made it feel almost like an action game. Those qualities have carried over to the sequel, which takes everything about the first game and expands on it. The result is an entertaining and great-looking game with familiar gameplay and a unique sense of style and pacing.

As a sequel, the mantra of the game’s design seems to be “refinement”. Fieldrunners 2 doesn’t add anything new or surprising to the series or the genre. If you’ve played any tower defense game, then you’ll know just what to do. Pick a tower and slap it down on the map, wait for enemies to start to falling, and earn more cash to build more towers.

The gameplay is simple and responsive, even on the small screen. For times when you need a bit more control, double tapping zooms in, allowing for precise tapping. Zooming also serves the purpose of showing off the gorgeous visuals and animation of all the units. The game just looks terrific. Each level is full of little touches, like tiny fluttering butterflies and birds. The graphics are cartoonish and remarkably gore free, and lend a great sense of personality to the game.

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Most of the 25 levels are traditional tower defense-style affairs, where you frantically build towers to ward off enemy troops. The design of the levels is impeccable, however. Some maps task you with guarding multiple routes, while other ingeniously let the player actually build mazes of death with their towers. This latter aspect of the game is particularly fun, since it adds a sandbox-like feel to the gameplay.

There are Sudden Death levels, where the player must survive an endless parade of bad guys for a certain amount of time, and even puzzle maps that task players with guiding enemies through things like laser barriers on an open field. Fieldrunners 2 sports over 30 different types of enemies—ranging from a variety of foot soldiers to tanks and helicopters. The variety of towers at your disposal is greatly increased as well.

Things like the Gatling, glue, rocket, and other towers from the original game are now joined by as assortment of cool new toys. Players can use bee-like hive rockets, electrocute, fry, bombard, and employ all kinds of other horribly fun methods of destruction. Granted, the more powerful the tower, the more expensive, so most maps will be laid out with the simpler, cheaper towers. Using the high-end toys as accent points amidst a sea of machine gun towers is one of the main strategies for setting up death traps.

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So, as far as being the tower defense game with the most, Fieldrunners 2 is at the top of its class. Just the same, there are a couple odd design choices here. The biggest problem is that most of the levels go on for way too long. The main maps task players to survive 60 or 70 waves, which for a mobile game can feel like an eternity. Worse, since there are no mid-level saves, it’s painfully easy to get to the 67th wave and suddenly be overrun, forcing a complete retry of the level.

There is a power-up that lets players snap back three waves, but frankly, when a level is this long, the quaint graphics and gameplay can end up bordering on tedious and frustrating. Fieldrunners 2 is challenging in general, but these long levels felt like a way to artificially increase play time. Also, the game is currently iPhone-only, though it does support Retina displays. An iPad version is coming soon apparently, but likely won’t be a universal patch to this release.

While the length of many of the levels is a bit trying, everything else about Fieldrunners 2 is exemplary. It is, overall, a great game. The graphics are terrific and detailed, the puzzle designs are devious, and the variety of modes, units, and enemies is great. The game improves upon the original just enough and is well worth checking out.