iPhone app review: Fieldrunners

The iPhone is a wonderful little gaming device. It can play computer games, like the classic SimCity as well as classic arcade games like PacMan. It’s also breeding a whole class of new games, like the inimitable DuckDuckDuck. But I’m not going to talk about any of those now. Instead, I’m going to talk about Fieldrunners!

Fieldrunners is a quality little game from SubAtomic Studios (Look, they’re on Twitter!). The premise is simple: you build defenses to kill a seemingly endless assault of bad guys who are trying to get from one side of the screen to the other. If you’ve ever played Tap Defense, you’ll understand how to play Fieldrunners.

The graphics in Fieldrunners are absolutely superb. The multi-touch support is great, too, allowing you to zoom in to or out of the game screen. The towers are all well animated, and the enemies are actually quite fun to watch. They’re well articulated.

The sounds are fantastic, too. The repetitive footstep sounds of the enemies, the squelching of the goo towers, and the crackle of the Tesla coils are all top-notch. The sound track is terrific, too: much better than I had expected it to be.

Fieldrunners is super easy to play. There are a variety of useful strategies you can employ to obliterate your enemies, but ultimately I found the game simply too repetitive to enjoy. It reminded me an awful lot of playing Starcraft at LAN parties in days of yore: I would struggle to build as much as I could, only to watch an endless rush of Zerglings swarm over my base to wipe me out.

The thing about Fieldrunners is that the “levels” don’t feel like levels at all. There’s wave after wave of increasingly tough enemies, but there’s no interstitial sequence between waves in the same way as there is in Tap Defense. So while you are, in fact, leveling up, it feels like a non-stop assault from which you can’t break away. Indeed, I found myself playing long after I wanted to stop simply because there was no built-in break once you get started.

For those that enjoy this kind of game, rejoice! There’s an “Endless” mode that has no specific win condition: you just keep fighting and fighting and fighting!

Bottom Line
If you like strategy games, or are keen to try different kinds of strategies in an otherwise repetitive game, Fieldrunners is probably a good choice. It’s a fun diversion the first couple times you play it, but I don’t think it has a high replay value.