Jolly-as-you-like tower defense action in times of war
I wonder when it actually became OK to use World War II as the theme for video games to build their story on. I mean, games about the Iraq War would most certainly be panned for their ‘too soon’ nature, so exactly what date in the video gaming age did it become ok to dramatise one of the most recognisable and now widely-depicted wars in the history of man? Perhaps the cooling off period between 1945 and the rise of modern video games was enough time to make it all ok, because Field Runners certainly doesn’t have a problem using the concept of war to its own entertainment ends with its app-based, war-themed tower defense title developed by Subatomic Studios. One may think that the act of war could never be a light-hearted and colourful affair, but one would be mistaken and would be failing to be in possession of the knowledge that only the playing Field Runners will bestow upon one. The game just looks like a piece of wholeheartedly joyful fun, but how does it play? I’ll tell you how it plays, because damn it, Peter, it’s my job to do so.
Forget gritty, true-to-life war simulation games, Field Runners is a jolly and colourful as they come, with a cartoonish style that is only a few steps away from being a slightly twisted and more grown-up version of a war game designed by Disney. You’ll find that the game is pretty much like any other tower defense game out there, with enemies advancing in from an origin point and heading towards the exit; you must place a variety of attacking towers in order to stop them getting to the other side. Each escaped enemy costs you a life, of which you have a limited number (20 in easy mode, less in the harder modes). There waves of enemies get more difficult and more populous as you make more progress, but you can also upgrade you towers to make them more effective as you go along. As I said, it’s standard tower defense, only with a cheeky, over-the-top feel to it.
Armaments and Axis Powers
It wouldn’t be any fun if all you did was place generic towers for the whole game, so you actually get to choose between four different types of tower. You can build standard gattling gun-style towers that shoot regular bullets, build liquid-releasing ones that slow down, construct an artillery tower that fires rockets, and a pylon-like one that shocks the enemy with electricity. Each tower has its own particular use and can be used tactically with each other to produce the best results. Use the ooze-shooting tower to slow down the enemy whilst chipping away at them with the gattling gun and rocket tower. Towers can also be upgraded, which changes both their appearance and their efficacy in destroying the enemy.
Speaking of enemies, you will come across a wide variety, from standard, unremarkable troops through to burly, well-armoured ones and even helicopters and other vehicles that require the rocket artillery or heavily-upgraded towers to be defeated.
It’s Got the Heart
Fieldrunners is a game with a big, kind heart whose full and healthy beating is restricted by the limitations within the game. What limitations you say? Well, the four tower types, for starters, that unlike in other incredible tower defense games such as Kingdom Rush, cannot be upgraded into other interesting and unique towers. This sort of eliminates the usual fun of a tower defense game, as does the fact that you must play through 100 whole rounds before you can unlock the next stage. This is remarkably infuriating and slows the pace of the whole thing down incredibly. If it’s a bit of shallow and silly tower defense you’re looking for, then by all means indulge in Fieldrunners, because in spite of its limitations, the whole thing is actually still moderately entertaining and even a little addictive.