Fieldrunners 2 Hands-On Preview

One of the first games to launch on the App Store in 2008, the original Fieldrunners was a giant hit and a harbinger of the tower defense surge that followed. The team at Subatomic has upgraded the original game continually since then, adding sound, music, and levels. But now it’s time for a huge leap forward for the franchise: an awesomely upgraded Fieldrunners 2.

The first thing you’ll notice are the updated graphics. The adorable and highly recognizable character designs are back, but the levels are much richer in detail. Levels now include special terrain like bridges, elevated platforms, and traps, such as red hot coils to burn up enemy foot soldiers.

The level design in Fieldrunners 2 has been carefully considered as well. Subatomic told us they are taking a Mario and Zelda-like approach to the design, with collectible stars to unlock new levels, and a careful balance between action and puzzles. For example, bonus levels will place the enemy’s exit just a few feet from the entrance, forcing you to construct a spiral of machine gun towers to keep them from escaping. In another, you have to place just one or two towers to change the enemy’s trajectory and force them through a lethal force field.

Fieldrunners 2 is also avoiding some of the traps of other tower defense games. It won’t have in-app puchases at launch– all of your upgrades have to be earned through gameplay. And Subatomic has included clever new towers beyond the standard machine guns and rocket launchers. Our favorite is a mine-laying tower that pops out explosives on a slow but steady basis, which is perfect for a last line of defense.

Even if you think you’ve had enough of tower defense, Fieldrunners 2 is well worth a look. It looks great, has a promising amount of level variety, and offers some clever innovations for the genre. It’ll be available in an iPhone version by the end of June, with the iPad version to follow about a month later.