Developer: Subatomic Studios, LLC
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2.2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve played just about every tower defense type game created, from iPhone games to bad flash games put together by 9 year olds. Admittedly, I get a little giddy when I find a new one. There’s just something awesome about finding ways to blow up as many things as possible in the shortest amount of time. This campy, carnage inducing genre (maybe I get a bit too excited) brought me to what was being called the best tower defense game… ever.

At the start, the maps are completely open, leaving you with the enviable task of building a maze for the unsuspecting “fieldrunners” to try to weave through. You get to choose between three levels which emphasize different types of mazes and three different game modes, whether it be the classic mode which gives you four guns and 100 waves of enemies, extended mode, which gives you two new guns, or the endless mode, which has all the guns and unlimited levels. The guns are very nicely detailed, so much so that each individual gun upgrade has a different design. It’s nice to look at a map and visually know which weapons have been upgraded and which haven’t.

What impressed me most was the speed at which the units move and the weapons shoot. By wave 50 of any given game, you have a winding maze around the map consisting of machine guns, missile launchers, oil cannons, tesla coils, flame throwers, and bomb throwers, all shooting at the same time. Typically, in a tower defense game, this is where my maniacal laughter ends and I get bored… there’s nothing worse than having a 30 minute game bog down to a crawl because the maze you built was too supremely awesome, but in Fieldrunners, it’s smooth going. Seeing all of my guns fire at the same time with enemies blowing up all around the screen while experiencing no lag was unexpected and amazing. The newest update even gives you the option to fast forward the game during some of the later tedious levels where the enemy units take a good deal of pounding to kill. It’s a small tweak, but by level 90 when you have the map pretty much set up it’s extremely nice. The visual effects, and sound effects for that matter are all top notch. The different sound effects of each gun and the inevitable death sounds of all the enemy units ring true. I still get a chuckle when the first fieldrunners run onto the screen and die with a very “Worms”-like scream. I have to say that the sound and graphics of Fieldrunners were some of the best I’ve seen on the iPhone.

If I had to find a fault with the game, it is that it doesn’t give you much detail on the on- screen items. After many many hours (days maybe) of gameplay, all I know is that the machine gun does minimal damage and the tesla coils does a bunch. I would guess that each upgrade doubles the damage done, and that each round of enemies get 5-10% more hit points. The only info I get on the screen is a small bar under each enemy unit that goes down when they get shot. It would be nice to be able to click on some of the more powerful enemy units and see how many hit points they had left. Fortunately, the game moves at such a nice pace that I don’t need to see hit points, I just need to see where I need to place my next flame thrower.

Overall, this game was just about everything I wanted from an iPhone game. It’s challenging, has great graphics, great sound effects, and makes me want to play forever. This is the kind of game that will always have a place on my iPhone, no matter how many other games crowd my system. Whether you are looking for a fun strategy game or just a great way to blow a few minutes, Fieldrunners is amazing.

Note: Drylands, on classic mode, on hard is very very very difficult to beat. E-mail me a screen shot if anyone has a good strategy for it. I’m pulling my hair out over here.

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