Kingdom Rush Frontiers by Ironhide Game Studio

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Introduction

Kingdom Rush Frontiers is the newest sequel to the original Kingdom Rush, produced by Ironhide Game Studio. It is probably one of the most famous tower defence game, and rightly so – the original Kingdom Rush had simple controls, numerous types of enemies, and only a handful of towers to keep the players’ sanity in check. Kingdom Rush Frontiers tries to follow the original game’s footsteps, with added game mechanics, and great visuals to impress the players.

Warning: There are actually 2 versions for this game, the iPhone version and the iPad version. The game is NOT universal, so you have to decide which version you want to play. I’ve made this mistake and had to buy the game twice :(

Core gameplay

Players are given 4 distinct types of towers to fend off incoming waves of enemies. Arrow Towers shoot arrows quickly; Barracks deploy soldiers to stop & damage enemies; Mage Towers shoot powerful magical bolts; and Artillery Towers deals area damage to devastate ground enemies.

Each type of basic tower can be upgraded twice. After that, they can be transformed into one of two advanced towers for that type, with up to 3 special types of upgrades to further enhance the tower.

As the places for building towers are fixed (and limited in number), the game strategy is focused on building the right tower on the right place & timing the upgrades. The game has relatively few distractions (i.e., coins don’t need to be collected, towers don’t require any maintenance, your hero auto-casts everything), so players are free to focus on building & upgrading towers.

The Good

What I love about Kingdom Rush Frontiers is its visuals and the added depth of gameplay. Compared to the original game, there are so many more eye candies that grab players’ attention (but not so much that it wrecks the gameplay). Also, upgrades for advanced towers change their appearances, so they look more powerful and, considering the high cost of each upgrade, gratifying.

At the same time, the creators of the game managed to add a depth to the game without touching the core mechanics. For example, a giant monster can suddenly pop out of nowhere and starts chopping through the forest to create new path in middle of the game, effectively punishing any player focusing solely on a handful of chock points and neglecting the rest of the map. Also, there could be carnivorous plants that devour nearby units, so players relying heavily on barracks units can see their own units being taken out by the plants, while strategic players can use this on the enemies and reduce their number with the help of those plants.

Overall, the game is very well-balanced, and players of any level will appreciate the time devs spent to make this game as polished as possible.

The Bad

I was actually very disappointed that the gameplay is strikingly similar to the original one. While there is a value to “don’t change what’s not broken” philosophy, I feel the devs were too cautious.

As a tower defence game, building basic towers and upgrading them are the bread and butter of Kingdom Rush. Since many returning players (whom I presume are one of the target audience for this game) spent hours and hours building the same arrow towers and militia barracks, they probably do not expect to see the exact same thing in a sequel. Just look at the icon – a mean-looking claw-wielding hooded assassin in a bush! It takes players (returning and new alike) a good 20 minutes into the game to realize that they don’t get to see the friends of Ezio until they’d invested over 500 gold pieces in a single militia barracks. In a sentence, this is Kingdom Rush whose advanced towers have been replaced with new ones.

It would have been so much more fun to see new types of basic tower, even if it meant replacing the old ones to keep the simplicity. Assassins Hut (then Camp, then Guild) in place of Militia Barracks; Poison Darters Bush (then Post, then Citadel) in place of Arrow Tower; Voodoo Sanctuary in place of Mage Tower; Pirate’s Boat in place of Dwarven Bombard. Since the new game takes place in so many scenes, the devs could have also changed the old model with the new one as the game progressed.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers have so many things added to the game for it to have been a DLC, but there was definitely more to be expected IMHO.

Bottom Line

Plus: Return of the classic tower defence game, with many new features!

Minus: Core gameplay is too similar the original one.

Bottom Line: Many of hours of gameplay & high replayability!

You can download the iPhone version here,

and you can download the iPad version here.

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