About a year ago I wrote off tower defense games on Facebook due to the rampant redundancy I found. Zombies, armies, furry animal characters, you can defend your base against just about any type of adversary you want. However, like so many political figures have been accused of, I’m now a flip flopper. I’m now addicted to Field Runners.
The truly surprising thing to me about Field Runners, is how addictive it is and yet what sets it apart from other tower defense games is rather nebulous. We have the standard elements, base.... check, scores of various enemies..... check, base upgrades..... check, various level environments.... check. However, with all of this, nothing really stands out as a big flashing sign pointing out why Field Runners is a great game.
Part of this nebulous ‘X’ factor could be identified as the games polish. The game just works. On my Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 devices there’s no stutters, no skips, no crashes despite the screen full of action. It’s not uncommon for there to be 20-40 enemies on the screen all being massacred by my masterly crafted defenses at the same. It’s commendable how well Subatomic optimized the game with the consideration of how much action is happening.
Another pleasant factor I ran into was the styling of the game. Being a war themed tower defense game Subatomic decided to go with graphical style that’s a little bit lighter. While many of the tanks and helicopters appear more in a real military style, the oversize helmets on the soldiers and comical body proportions of large infantry lend themselves towards a more light hearted style which is pulled off very well.
If you aren’t familiar with tower defense, let me explain. Enemies have entry points in the field, which are different for each map. The enemies then cross the field towards your base. If they reach your base, the base takes damage. Your job is to construct defenses to take down the onslaught of attackers before they get to your base. The maps in Field Runners do not provide a set path for the ground troops travel, instead you can map out their path by constructing your defenses in front of them. Proper path construction is key, but it also becomes important to consider flying enemies such as helicopters and zeppelins which will travel directly across the map disregarding your ground structures. Balancing ground and air defenses becomes a key factor in the mechanics of Field Runners.
The mechanics of the game are pretty vanilla, though I question the standard that vanilla is plain. With a genre like tower defense that has really been beat to death over the past few years it becomes more difficult to fail here. However, it could be seen as a slightly negative factor that Subatomic did not choose to do anything experimental or challenge the norm in anyway. With Field Runners game play execution however, I’m left feeling like “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” which seemed to work well in this case.
Regarding replayability FIield Runners offers four maps, three playmodes, and three difficulties giving copious amounts of options to keep playing until the formula gets stale, which I imagine will take quite awhile. The maps are all open field, but vary in their environment, but also where enemies attack. With the various entry points the defense strategy becomes very different. There are also an array of achievements available which will keep any completionist busy for a very long time.
Game modes are split into standard, extended, and endless. Standard is a basic warm-up mode. The enemy waves are a little easier than the subsequent modes, but you are also limited to four types of defense structures to gun turrets, slime guns, missle launchers, and lightning rods. Once Extended is unlocked the enemies are a little more abundant but the player is given access to flame throwers and mini nuke bombs. Endless mode is exactly as the name describes, there is no wave cap. The full arsenal is available from the beginning and the games slowly gets more difficult with every wave that is completed.
Field Runners is one of a handful of games that I feel any smartphone owner that happens to be a video game hobbyist should purchase. Check out our video review for a full break down, and go pick it up on the Android Market today.