The tower defense genre has a reputation for producing a slew of run-of-the-mill titles for the purpose of making a quick buck on handheld platforms. Fieldrunners 2 however, developed by Subatomic Studios, looks to be the exception that proves the rule. But does this highly diluted genre still hold a place in our hearts, or has it been ruined by endless mediocrity?
In Fieldrunners 2, a clone army is attacking your kingdom, and it’s up to you to stop them. As with any other tower defense game, enemies walk along predetermined paths and you build defensive towers to kill them before they reach their destination. On some stages you’ll be able to redirect this path by placing towers that force the enemies to take the long way around, while on others you’ll have to make the best out of the building space available.The game also features a number of puzzle maps where you have to meet a specific set of circumstances to succeed.
Not much can be said about the maps themselves, they’re mostly rectangular screens with some manner of a well-designed backdrop. There’s a nice variety of both layouts and aesthetics found in each map.
The armada of attacking clones is comprised of a wide variety of special enemies, some that would feel right at home among the Team Fortress 2 roster. You’ve got runners, heavies, medics, tanks, choppers, zeppelins, hazmats, and even nuclear missile carriers, all painted in a comfortably familiar cell shaded style. While few enemies have any particular weakness to specific towers, strategy is nevertheless important in setting your defenses up so that slow moving enemies are affected by high damage but short range towers, and fast moving enemies by low damage but long range towers. Of course, one should never forget the holy combination of slowing and area of effect towers.
It wouldn’t be a tower defense game without some destructively appealing towers, and there are plenty to chose from. Before each level you’re given the choice of bringing six different towers into the battle, with an impressive 28 varieties in total. Not all the towers are unlocked from the start however, and you have to earn coins and stars to unlock the more impressive constructs, some costing a hefty sum. A few towers perform similar tasks, like slowing, shooting in a line or sniping from afar, but there’s usually some deceptively important difference between each one that sets them apart. They all look and function great, and the feeling of setting up a perfectly synergetic deathtrap and watching as hordes of soldiers fall to your defenses is incredibly satisfying.
Disappointingly the amount of freedom you’re given to set up your defenses is very limited, at least when compared to many other tower defense titles. Many maps will have a safe path where enemies can walk unobstructed in addition to other random clutter preventing you from building a perfect maze. The result is an experience that feels more like a puzzle than a strategy game. While we really like the new dynamic, we do miss the more traditional tower defense gameplay of building massively intricate mazes.
Once you’ve acquired all the towers there’s still plenty to spend money on; with handy items that do anything from turn back time, freeze enemies in place or simply blow them to smithereens. Initially you might want to save these up as much as possible as they can become quite essential to survive the later levels.They’re a nice addition that provide a useful handicap to newcomers, but hardcore purists will want to avoid using them as much as possible.
Before every level you choose between casual, tough or heroic difficulties. All but the most seasoned tower defense players will want to immediately chose casual, as the game can get incredibly difficult if you haven’t built everything perfectly from the start. New players can usually still get by, assuming they aren’t as obsessed about getting perfect scores as we were, so the challenge should feel just right. Of course if you can handle tough or heroic– the suitable reward of extra stars and coins is there to motivate you.
Fieldrunners 2 doesn’t do much to reinvent the wheel. But, it’s taken all the best parts from different games, polished them and put them all together to make one kickass wheel…erm game. Veterans looking for the next great tower defense game needn’t look further, and the same can be said for newcomers who want something accessible but challenging. With a budget price and hours upon hours of fun to be had, Fieldrunners 2 easily earns a worth buying from us. Get building.
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- Name: Fieldrunners 2
- Reviewed on: PC
- Available on: PC (Windows), iOS
- Developed by: Subatomic Studios
- Release Date: January 10, 2013
- Price: $9.99
- Elder-Geek Score: 5 out of 5 / Worth Buying