Game Review: Fieldrunners
Tower defense is an interesting genre- hone that seems to thrive on just about every platform, for some reason. Why do we love tower defense? Is it the inherent simplicity of the games in this genre that draw us like flies to honey? Perhaps it’s the urge to protect something that lies dormant in all our hearts. Whatever the case is, Fieldrunners does a good job at bringing it out. I think Fieldrunners is one of the simplest tower defense games I’ve played thus far- it’s pretty hands-off. How can I say that? I’m playing it right now as I’m writing this review- disregard that, it’s not that hands off- I just suffered defeat. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty fun tower defense game available across several different platforms, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
So how does Fieldrunners play out? It’s essentially your basic tower defense game- enemy units run into an area, and you can put down towers, which are stationary units, with which you can defend yourself- or more specifically, another area through which the enemy units will attempt to run, fly, or roll. This game has several levels, and within those levels are rounds- if you reach stage fifty in a level, you’ll unlock a new one, and if you reach stage 100, you’ll have beaten the level entirely. I had the chance to play the PC version of the game (it’s also available across several mobile platforms) and I must say that it controlled very well, though I still felt pretty passive while playing it. While I know that most strategy games don’t really require amazing reflexes, I do think that Fieldrunners could’ve stood to be a little more engaging. Then again, this game does have other, more mobile versions. In fact, it originally came out for iOS, and I suspect that those mobile versions of the game will probably be a bit more exciting than their desktop counterparts. Still, I had plenty of fun with the PC version so I really can’t say that it’s a bad game by any stretch of the imagination.
There’s are four towers with which you defend your base- a basic, cheap gun turret with a short range, a turret that squirts slime with which to slow the enemy, a missile turret and finally a Tesla coil that slows and damages enemies. I must say that these four are nicely balanced- and occasionally force you to think. Would a coil in the middle be better than fourteen gun turrets? Such are the dilemmas you will face. Each enemy you take down is worth a certain amount of money- each enemy you fail to take down will cost a single heart. You have twenty hearts- run out, and it’s game over. This game does require some long-term thinking on your part- and at the same time, it requires you to maintain a fluid strategy, especially on later levels in which your enemies will be coming from multiple locations, you having multiple exits to defend. Something I found interesting was the layout of the levels- each is essentially a field (hence the name). If you want obstacles for your enemies, you’ll have to create them.
Aestethcally, this game is very pleasing. The graphics have a clean, cartoonish style- I almost feel as if a old WWII cartoon has suddenly appeared in vibrant color and has taken the form of a video game and, and everything just seems so unnervingly cute. It’s slightly disturbing when you give it some thought, really. Pity there’s no time for thought. Continuing with the topic of aesthetics, though, the sprites are nicely detailed- one little touch I particularly appreciated was that when the gun turrets fired, they’d be lit up with yellow. It’s a small thing, but it showed the developers as having a nice amount of attention to detail, and were kind of reminiscent of Metal Slug. The game’s music, while not particularly memorable, was fitting- it was mostly military-marchish stuff, but it went well and sounded pretty good.
Something else I appreciated about the game was the way it teaches you to play- when you start a game, you’re shown what each element of the GUI does- initially it may seem a little overwhelming, but it’s not something that you have to pay much attention to- it pops up at the beginning of each game, and after a few rounds you’ll notice, little by little, what each part of the GUI does. It’s not at all intrusive, though it does seem to run counter to the game’s simple nature. Nonetheless, it’s better than there being no tutorial at all, and you’ll probably be able to figure out on your own what most of the elements do simply by their appearance.
Overall, Fieldrunners is a good little game- it’s awfully cute, plays well, and looks pretty good. You’ll get plenty of gameplay out of it on whichever platform you choose- if you’re into tower defense, or just beginning in the genre, you’re going to want to check out Fieldrunners.