Innovation may be important in gaming these days, but when something is already perfect, why break it? Such is the case with Kingdom Rush Frontiers, the sequel to the hit Tower Defence game Kingdom Rush.
Now let me explain my take on this for a minute. Kingdom Rush was the game that kept me glued to my iPad night after night until the early hours of the morning. Sure, it made getting up for work harder, but then I knew I could get a quick game on my second copy on the iPhone while I travelled on that most joyous of public transportation; the bus.
Therefore, when Ironhide games announced a sequel, all I wanted was more Kingdom Rush, with maybe a few extra bits and pieces thrown in to ramp it up a little. Luckily (for me, anyway) that’s exactly what Frontiers provides, more tower mayhem and another great story.
For those who haven’t come across the game in one of its forms (it started life as a flash game before heading to mobiles) Kingdom Rush is your typical Tower Defence blueprint; there’s a map with roads, enemies appear from one side (or several) and make their way to the other. The player needs to place different towers along the map at set places to prevent the enemy reaching its goal. Kingdom Rush is no different in principal, but the excellent detailed cartoon graphics, the likeable characters on both sides and the polished presentation all come together with the balanced gameplay to make one of, if not the best, TD games around.
Frontiers starts with a simple map to help new players ease in to the game, but even this first map feels like something from mid-way through the first game thanks to a more interesting design. New tower upgrades come thick and fast through the next few levels and more enemies are introduced, all of which have different abilities and weaknesses.
The difficultly level is pitched just right, with a casual mode for those new to the genre, but even this presents more of a challenge as the game progresses. Strategies can be learned and used on the next replay to avoid any enemies making it through your defences and in order for you to earn the maximum 3 stars in a level. Stars are then used to power up your troops and towers. Some of the new tower types are pretty extreme, including an upgrade for the mortar which turns it into a giant walking mech! While most of these are variations on the towers seen in the first game, there are a few nice surprises thrown in.
Following on from the first game, individial heroes can be drafted in to help in the battle. These powerful giants all have different powers and will, by default, stand by one of your exits. They can be ordered to wade further into battle, though and are often a great help when things get tough. One advancement over Kingdom Rush comes with the leveling up of these heroes and their powers, allowing them to become a major force in the battle. The game is careful to only give out points towards these as sparingly as possible, though, and all but 4 of these new heroes are only accessed by In App Payments.
Graphically, Frontiers looks like a more polished version of the first game, with the same cheeky cartoon characters and some great animations that makes it a joy to watch as well as to play. There are some great nods to popular culture including Star Wars and Metallica.
So while Kingdom Rush Frontiers is certainly more of the same, with a few improvements peppered throughout, as Tower Defence games go it’s top of the heap and I’m finding myself losing yet more sleep keeping the enemy at bay.