Updated: Fieldrunners Review

Fieldrunners, one of the most popular Tower Defense games in the app store, has been updated to version 1.1.0. The developers added sound, a new battlefield, an ‘endless’ mode and a new boss unit to the game. The sounds are great, and they match Fieldrunner’s attractive aesthetic. The inclusion of a new boss character and a new map with multiple enemy entry points help to vary the strategy a bit. However, the update does not include any new towers or game mechanics, so it is less significant than we would like. But we are glad that the developers are working on the game, and hope to see Fieldrunners continue to evolve.

One of the advantages of digital distribution over conventional physical media is the ability to iterate on your original game design. The developers of Fieldrunners have really taken this to heart by releasing another substantial update to their very popular Tower Defense game. Update 1.2 brings a new level, two new towers, a new and tangibly different enemy unit, and yet another coat of polish to what is already a great-looking game.

While we initially thought that Fieldrunners was too simple and lacked sufficient replay value, the constant updates have added more depth and value, making the game substantially better than it was when first released. Fieldrunners is now the perfect place to get into the TD genre, and we are happy to award it our highest score.

Fieldrunners is the newest kid on the block in the ever-expanding “tower defense” genre on the App Store. Each of these games has its own gameplay balance and aesthetic to distinguish it from its cousins; Fieldrunners is one of the most stylish renditions that you will find on the iPhone or any other platform. Its feature set is basic, but balanced enough to provide hours of entertainment.

As in other tower defense games, your objective in Fieldrunners is to place different kinds of ‘towers’ in patterns designed to destroy a wave of enemies before they can cross from one side of the screen to the other. You have four towers at your disposal–a “Gatling” tower, a “Goo” tower, a “Missile” tower and a “Tesla” tower. The gun tower is your inexpensive workhorse,and the missile is your long range killer. The slime tower slows down enemies and the electricity tower delivers a very powerful shock at close range. Each tower can be upgraded twice. This rudimentary selection is kind of disappointing, but at least each tower type satisfies a specific need.

Meanwhile, the enemies come in a few different flavors, but they’re really only distinguished by their speed, toughness and ability to fly. There’s no rock-paper-scissors dynamic that forces you to match specific towers to specific enemy types. We’re not saying that the game isn’t challenging, though: the easiest difficulty level in Fieldrunners is quick to master, but the hardest requires serious planning. A single game can last as long as an hour; fortunately, the game remembers exactly where you were when you reboot it after quitting or closing. Enthusiasts can play for higher scores, but you can’t tweak settings such as board shape, or select an alternate game mode. Fieldrunners’ touch controls work well: you simply drag towers onto the board to place them, and touch to upgrade or demolish them. It’s easy to zoom in and out and pan around to survey the entire field, or to focus on a single point of interest.

The real draw in Fieldrunners is its graphics, which ooze personality and style. The game’s enemies and towers are based on military and architectural tropes from the first half of the twentieth century–mainly the two World Wars, with a little Art Deco thrown in. These detailed, hand-drawn caricatures have real comic appeal. Plus, the animation remains smooth and consistent, even when the screen fills up with baddies. In comparison with the game’s awesome graphics, the complete lack of sound is a major letdown.

Overall, Fieldrunners is a beautiful and satisfying game. It is balanced enough to challenge without frustrating, and although it lacks some features found in other tower defense games, the gameplay is well-executed and has no glaring holes. You shouldn’t expect the game to hold your attention for weeks on end, but you will certainly get your $4.99 worth. A bit more depth and the inclusion of sound would really make the game into a Must Have.

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