Fieldrunners: one of the best tower defense games on the iphone?

The Tower Defense genre has been picking up steam in the last several years. Desktop Tower Defense, an internet flash game released in 2007, was played almost 16 million times after only four months of release. A simple search on google will yield countless websites devoted to the genre. It was only a matter of time before developers started pumping out such games on the iPhone.

Enter Fieldrunners, an immensely popular title from developer Subatomic Studios. Though not the first tower defense game on the iPhone (this honor belongs to Mote-M), it’s success has inspired other developers to launch their own tower game. Currently, I counted 11 such games at the App Store. This number will undoubted continue to grow in the near future.

Main Screen

Main Screen

For those who have never played this type of game before, the premise of Fieldrunners is quite simple. There are two vital points of interest on the map. The entry point and the exit point. The enemies, or Fieldrunners will attempt in waves to cross from the starting point all the way to the exit area. Your job is to stop them by building defensive structures around the map. If an enemy makes it all the way across the entire field and exits the map, you will lose a life. Twenty such successful enemy attempts and the game is over.

At your disposal, you have four main types of structures:

The Gatling Tower is the basic building block of the game. They are cheap and pack quite a punch. Their range is limited, thus good for close range action. Since they are cheap, they are most effectively used to form your own custom “maze” so enemies don’t just walk in a straight line.

The Goo Tower is an invaluable building type that can slow down fieldrunners. Especially in the later levels when the waves come in heaps, the Goo will slow down those pecky fieldrunners on motorcycles.

The Missle Tower has a long range and great for defending against air units that can fly over all your building blocks. Put a few together and a great tower to have even against land units.

The Lightning Tower is the most powerful tower in the game. It fires a bolt of lightening that can deal massive amounts of damage to most fieldrunners.

Gameplay is fantastic, and Fieldrunners excels at making use of the iPhone. You tap a Tower icon on the bottom of the screen and you drag it to where you want to place it on the map. Letting go of the tower will place it at that specify spot. While dragging it, you will see a green area around the tower. This is your towers’ range, so you must use this visual aid to your advantage. Once a tower is in place, tapping on it will allow you to sell or upgrade your tower. Each tower can be upgraded 3 times and it gets more powerful after each upgrade. The game can be paused at will, so you can take your time with such decisions. Using the iPhone finger gestures will zoom in and out of the map. This feature works beautifully and gives you greater control of the map area.

A wave of angry bouncers coming through

The graphics in Fieldrunners can simply described as amazing for an iphone game. The animations as well as the art work are top notch. This is one instance where the graphics make the game that much more enjoyable. Watching the various fieldrunners trying to cross the screen is a blast. You will see little guys with overly large helmets, the same little guys on a bike or in a jeep, burly bloaks who look like villains straight out of a Disney feature, robots, helicopters….all in all, a great selection of creations from Subamotic Studios.

It may take new players a few tries before learning the best placements for each tower to be most effective. Like all tower defense games, tower placements is critical. Don’t build your towers in a straight line, since this will give the enemies the quickest route. Instead, build a maze like defense structure so fieldrunners have to zig and zag their way along.

Constructing the Great Wall

Constructing the Great Wall

Ziggity Zag

Ziggity Zag

The game does have some set backs in its current release. The biggest being sound and levels. Simply put, there is no sound in the game! To be fair though, I don’t think I have played a game without any sound at all and STILL enjoyed it as much I have with Fieldrunners. I think this alone is testament to how enjoyable and addictive the game can be. The other set back is level selection. Currently, there is only one map that is playable. This may turn off some people, but Subatomic Studios is planning on releasing version 1.1 very soon. Future upates promises sound, more towers, fieldrunners and other surprises.

If you enjoy strategy and defense games, Fieldrunners is a must have. Even if you have never played a Tower Defense game before, this title will bring you up to speed in no time. Spending $4.99 on a game that plays as well as it looks is money well spent. Due to the lack of sound and levels at this time, Fieldrunners receives our Grab this App rating, just barely missing the top prize.

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App Summary
Title: Fieldrunners (v1.0) Developer: Subatomic Studios
Price: $4.99 App Size: 9.2 mb
  • Splendid graphics
  • Finger gestures for zooming and map movement works very well
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Resume feature allows for short sittings at a time
  • No sound
  • Only 1 map level
  • Could use more types of towers

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