We're having a field day in the sequel to Subatomic's smash-hit game.
Fieldrunners was pretty much a must-own iPhone game back in 2008, and it was one of the first games to really deliver on the promise of touchscreen gaming. It deservedly picked up no small number of accolades in the end-of-year round-ups, and so we're more than a little pleased to see a sequel crop up on the App Store.
A tower defense game would be nothing without, well, it's towers and there's a meaty selection of static weaponry to choose from in this sequel. Gatling towers offer the most basic gunnery support, and while they're weak to start off with, upgrades soon turn them into immensely satisfying, ear-shattering machine-gunnery units. Glue towers slow down enemies, missile towers are great for taking out air invasions, and the Tesla tower packs a seriously nasty electrical punch. There's a near-endless number of tower types to unlock and upgrade.
You enable those upgrades by tapping on individual towers and using the cash you acquire through slaughtering enemies on the battlefield. There are three upgrades available for each tower and, as with most other tower-defense games, the trick is to manage crowd-control while balancing out your firepower against a variety of different enemy types and mission scenarios.
Tanks are as hard as nails and absolutely have to be slowed down if your guns are to have a chance of piercing through their armor and obliterating them. Grunts on motorbikes will also need to be brought down to a slower pace, and air assaults are best dealt with by using some juicily upgraded missile towers.
As well as upgrade cash, you also earn coins as you play through the game, and the harder the difficulty setting, the more you earn. These can be used to purchase special pre-match items such as mines that do a devastating area-of-effect attack whenever you're in danger of being over-run, Spanish Flu which gradually creeps from runner to runner (poisoning them in the process), and a deep freeze which temporarily stops enemies dead in their tracks.
Even better? You cannot buy those coins from the App Store, you can only earn them through accomplished gameplay. Read that again and rejoice. More importantly, don't be put off from playing the game by the three dollar price-tag Subatomic Studios are charging to avoid this increasingly prevalent business model
Once you've survived every wave, you can even opt to stay on in an endless mode if you feel you've built up a fantastic set of defenses. It's a great way of adding an additional layer of challenge for the more thoughtful strategists, allowing them to enjoy the fruits of their carefully planned labors for a little longer, or simply motivating them to restart with an ever deadlier plan. For everyone else, it's just another chance to sit back and enjoy the gratuitous slaughter.
It all looks great, even zoomed in on the iPad, and the game copes with an impressive amount of miniaturized mayhem on the battlefield without any slowdown whatsoever. The sound packs a suitably meaty punch too, and every gunshot and explosion feels substantial and satisfying.
We had an absolute blast playing Fieldrunners 2, and recommend the title to any tower-defense fan. Even those who typically shy away from the genre will find a very different, and very enjoyable strategy title here. It's honest-to-goodness, good old-fashioned gaming with an equally pleasing disregard for some of the competition's more sinister financing.
What's Hot: Incredibly satisfying firepower, a game that offers deep and lengthy gameplay sessions, and a worthy sequel to the original.
What's Not: An HD client for the iPad would be the icing on the cake.