Fieldrunners sits comfortably as one of the original, and highest rated tower defense game on the App Store. This is for good reason! This game will suck you in! But will it keep you coming back for more with it’s great graphics, excellent sound, and balanced gameplay? Does Dave make-out with a PuzzleQuest poster every night before bed? (Absolutely.)
For those unfamiliar with tower defense, the concept is simple. Enemies spawn at one or more points on the map and attempt to move to another point on the map in the shortest distance possible. Your job is to place “towers” (weapons) in their way to destroy them before they reach their goal. It’s simple, but generally isn’t pulled off well due to unbalanced gameplay, extreme difficulty, or it’s just too easy. Fortunately, Fieldrunners doesn’t have any of these problems.
The game starts off with a simple left to right field map. You start off with just a few resources, and gain more for each kill. There are only 4 weapons, but for some reason I never felt a yearning for more. There are gatling towers (short range), goo towers (slows down runners), missile towers (long range with splash damage), and lightning towers (think Tesla Coils from C&C: Red Alert) which = total pwnage. Although I’m sure adding a couple more weapons wouldn’t hurt, just having these four is completely satisfying, and keeps things simple. There are 2 levels of upgrades for each tower, which adds some nice depth to gameplay.
This game looks gorgeous. It is sprite-based rather than a rendered 3D environment, and because of this, it’s able to achieve very crisp visuals. The sprites are wonderfully drawn and animated, and look good even when you zoom in. There’s a pseudo cell-shaded look to things that gives a nice cartoony feel, without going overboard. The sound is also very good, with high quality sound effects, and a very catchy menu theme. You can listen your own music on the phone while playing, which I did. Nothing like blasting fools to Rage Against the Machine.
There are descent amount of options to set, including a grid for the playing field, which helps in placing towers. There are also three difficulty levels. On easy, I was able to get past all 100 levels in the first map on my first try – with one life left. It wasn’t like a lot of tower games, where once you level up high enough, you can just sit back and relax. The game will take your full attention the entire time you are playing it. Luckily, the auto save works well if you have to break your concentration. Higher difficulties are very challenging, though, and will leave you seeing this more often than not.
There is literally nothing flawed about this game. It would be nice to see online leader boards, which is something that can be said for pretty much all iPhone games, but that’s not a huge deal. I suppose the one disadvantage would be the lack of a good selection of maps right off the bat. However, you do unlock new ones, and the devs have stated on the product page that they will be continually releasing new content, which is cool. I suppose for an experienced player, this game could technically get old quicker than they like, but I dare anyone to try a multi-path level on hard and get bored!
Presentation & Graphics
The “sprite 2.0″ graphics are incredibly polished, stylized, and just damn sexy! With excellent animations and movement, this game will impress you and others without slamming your iPhone’s RAM.
This game is TONS of frantic fun! Strategizing where to place each weapon type, and how to create your path is a must. I didn’t have one frustrating moment with the GUI or anything else during gameplay. Extremely well developed trouch controls, and is a joy to play.
If this game wasn’t so dang entertaining, it may have scored lower here. Without an online scoreboard, there’s not a huge reason to keep playing. However, with unlockable levels, and very challenging higher difficulty levels, this will defintiely keep most people coming back for more.
Fieldrunners is among the elite in indy developer games on the App Store. It fits right in with games like Aurora Feint and Trism. It’s games like these that should both give hope to indy developers, as well as give them a gleaming example of how to make a successful game. Field runners shines in almost every aspect, and although there are a few experienced players that may run out of things to do, the rest of us will be glued to our iPhone screens for a long time to come.