Fieldrunners 2 (iPhone/iPod touch) by Subatomic Games proves that sometimes a game can be worth the wait. Hitting the App Store nearly three and a half years after the original, Fieldrunners 2 is bigger and better in every way than its predecessor, with tons of missions, towers to unlock, and levels to conquer. Complex but accessible and infinitely playable, Fieldrunners 2 raises the bar for tower defense games on iOS.
What makes the game so great – and light years ahead of its genre counterparts – is how it encourages creative strategy from the first wave to the last. The intricate level designs and well-balanced friendly and enemy units are a perfect union with the open battlefields of the game’s many levels and gameplay types. Some missions are time trials, taking out as many units as possible; others are pure survival or traditional tower defense.
But with three different difficulties and some fantastic enemy AI, Fieldrunners 2 isn’t the repetitive upgrade-fest other tower defense games fall victim to. Soldiers will break formation and run in different directions, always hunting for holes in the player’s tower constructions, in wave after wave of brightly colored, explosion filled gameplay.
The game’s technical aspects are just as impressive, with every level and unit detailed in beautiful high-resolution, combining with the cleanly designed level layouts for a thoroughly beautiful visual experience. It’s amazing how well the game – and my iPhone 4S – kept up with the action, with nary a frame rate stutter or graphical glitch, even when the screen is filled to the brim with kamikaze soldiers, helicopters, and tanks.
Thanks to its fantastic animated bits of tutorial and different difficulties, Fieldrunners 2 (iPhone/iPod touch) isn’t a tower defense game aimed strictly at the hardcore, slowly easing players into new gameplay elements and upgrades with well-written text boxes that will pop up when needed.
But the hardcore won’t be disappointed, either: I’ve only cracked the surface of the hours upon hours of content under the roof of Fieldrunners 2. One thing is clear: tower defense games have a new benchmark to meet with Fieldrunner 2, one of the best game releases of any genre so far in 2012.