In the nascent days of the iOS App Store, Fieldrunners hit the mobile market and quickly grew to be known as the strongest tower defense title available.  Using the game’s set of towers to allow players to define the path enemies take, the small offering afforded plenty of replayability.  Combining this smart mechanic with the cartoonish art style, Fieldrunners remained popular in the years to follow, seeing releases on many other platforms while its developer, Subatomic Studios, spoke little of a follow-up.

But fans pining for more content from the studio need wait no longer.  With Fieldrunners 2, Subatomic has delivered nearly everything players might want in a sequel.  It may not be the revolution of its predecessor, but the wealth of content makes the original offering look like a proof of concept for this release.

In nearly every regard, Fieldrunners 2 builds upon the strengths established in the first title, from aesthetic choices to level design to difficulty.  When the original Fieldrunners released, it only provided a trio of maps with the simple goal of surviving a number of rounds or playing until enough enemies survive the towered assault.  With the sequel, a world map is introduced, divided into four sections.  Players will make their way through the Hometown tutorial and then onto the other three areas inspired by three fan-favorite maps – Grasslands, Drylands and Lavaflow.

Grasslands-inspired levels are just one of the many ways this sequel acknowledges its past while simultaneously improving upon its roots.

Each of the four sections contains various levels of tower defense goodness, and from the start Fieldrunners 2 demonstrates its variation.  The traditional “survive a certain number of rounds” levels are available, and can all be attempted in an endless mode as well.  As can be expected, these levels offer plenty of fun and incentives to replay, but the intriguing additions come in the form of puzzle, sudden death and timed levels.  No longer do players simply have to hold their defenses, new parameters to the challenge now require players to be smarter with their tactics.

Puzzle levels have players directing the flow of enemies through designated laser fields in order to defeat them.  With a limited number of resources, players must figure out where to aim traffic with only a couple of towers.  While not as high-paced as the normal levels, they are an amusing and sometimes taxing challenge worth attempting.

Timed levels take conventional challenges and ask players to defeat a certain number of opponents before the clock runs out.  While not a transformative idea, it does force players who become too lax with their tower placement to play fast and smart.  But nothing compares to the intimidating sight of dozens of adversaries storming the battlefield as the player throws everything at them and hopes for success.  Having these alternate levels insures a campaign that never feels old across the four worlds.

Oh the humanity! There are hundreds of them!

Fieldrunners 2 also introduces new concepts that allow each of these modes to work as well as they do.  When placing a tower or pausing a game, the game presents the player with the path enemies will take to reach their destination.  Often adapting to find the quickest and safest route.  This small touch prevents the need for guessing how a game will progress and instead insures time and tower placement is not wasted.

I loved an inclusion as minute but essential as this, and it shows the attention that Subatomic put into the development of this sequel.  With over 20 towers to choose from, players will certainly be able to suit their style of play, but additional items can help them out of a jam if their techniques are not as fruitful as planned.  From the use of a well placed mine to deploying the “Spanish flu” so damage is dealt out over time, Fieldrunners 2 includes a nice set of bonus weapons in case relying on only a player’s towers fails to meet their expectations.

Multiple levels will have you rethinking the way you play a tower defense game to exciting effect.

And if the incentive to replay levels to try new strategies and improve scores, each challenge has three levels of difficulty to keep players addicted.  For completing each setting, players are awarded stars that are necessary to unlock the game’s many towers.  The difficulty ratchets up nicely, but make no mistake; the highest difficulty levels can be brutal and may deter even the most resourceful of players.

All of Fielrdunners 2’s countless options are complemented by a fantastic art style.  Towers and enemies animate beautifully, making the onslaught of waves as fun to watch as they are to coordinate.  The upgrade is a noticeable jump from its predecessor.  From lava flowing through a rocky terrain to the more serene meadows of the Grasslands, Fieldrunners 2 is a joy to watch, and I found myself mesmerized by the organized chaos to the point of forgetting to actually deploy more firepower on several occasions.

This level is about as chaotic as it looks. And you'll absolutely love it for the mayhem.

Fieldrunners 2 is everything I could have wanted from a sequel to one of the best mobile tower defense games around.  With a host of content, more ways to play and countless incentives to keep playing after initially completing each mission translates into a polished and – most importantly – incredibly fun package.

The original title kept me playing long after I had conquered each map’s most trying settings.  I still have a number of stars to collect, and yet I cannot stop revisiting levels in endless modes to improve my scores.  I am hooked, and Subatomic Studios has insured I will remain playing long after I normally should.  And that’s all I really wanted from this fantastic sequel.

 

Here’s the Rundown:
+ Bigger and better in every way possible
+ Tweaks the formula to be more addicting than ever
+ Beautifully animated
 Highest difficulties can be almost unrealistic in their demands
– There’s not enough time in a day to play as much as I want 

9 and 9.5 represent the pinnacle of the genre, a game that defines what that genre should be about. These scores are for games that you not only feel would be worth your purchase, but you would actually try to convince your friends to buy them as well.

Fieldrunners 2 was developed and published by Subatomic Studios.  The game was released on July 19 for $2.99 on the iOS App Store.  A copy was supplied to RipTen for review purposes.