It’s not easy being a tower-defense game. The genre is designed to be repetitious and almost passive in a way. There are only so many ways you can place your towers, hit the start button and watch things happen. Thankfully, last year brought us a genuine gem in the genre in the way of Kingdom Rush. It really did a lot to engage the player and did it with such style that it’s no surprise it quickly became one of the most loved tower-defense games for iOS.
While it’s sequel, Kingdom Rush Frontiers, pretty much offers more of what made the first game so special, that old adage of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it couldn’t be more appropriate here as Frontiers continues to provide one of the most refreshing gaming experiences you can hold in your hands, with a few minor tweaks to make it even better.
What the first game did so well was to constantly give you something to do. You didn’t just sit back and watch the battles take place. Kingdom Rush had you doing something almost every second. Whether it was moving troops for a better field position or constantly upgrading your towers, casting down spells or calling in reinforcements, the first Kingdom Rush was a game that had you on the edge of your seat as you tried to pay attention to a screen full of units and enemies coming from all over the map.
And Frontiers is no different as it offers the same insanely addicting and frantic gameplay that the first one did. Of course there are some new towers to protect your kingdom with like a cannon tower that can be upgraded into either an AT-AT like construct or a quake machine that can burn your enemies as they pass by, and lots and lots of new enemies and units to fight and use. If you ever wondered what it would be like to see a giant gorilla fight a lich on a horse, then Kingdom Rush Frontiers has got you covered. There’s so much variety on display here and so much to do, that even on an iPad you may have trouble keeping up with what’s going on. But that’s all part of the challenge and the fun.
Probably the biggest change that we could see was that you can now upgrade the nine heroes you have available to you. Your heroes gain experience as the game progresses and after every level, you can change the different stats and skills that they all have. Our favorite hero to play, Cronan the Beastmaster, has the ability to use boars, rhinos and eagles to help defend his position and you can upgrade the different attacks, damage and effects that they all do. It’s a lot of fun and adds a bit more to the rpg/strategy game feel that the series has going for it.
Frontiers still has some of the negatives of the first one as well. There’s no fast-forward button and you practically have to hold your units’ hands in some instances to get them to fight, but it does fix one of the biggest problems of the first one, and that’s the length. Frontiers is nearly twice as long as the first game. And since you’ll probably be tempted to go back and play through it again, Frontiers can give you hours and hours of crazy intense action.
It’s kind of ironic that a game that was designed to help break the mold of the dusty tower-defense genre doesn’t do much to break the mold of it’s own gameplay, but there’s honestly no real reason to. Kingdom Rush Frontiers offers up enough new elements that it doesn’t seem like a retread, and it will quickly become one of those games that will have you grinding down the battery life on your device.