What a rush!
Kingdom Rush has already made a name for itself on the iPad as one of the best Tower Defence games on the App Store. But can Ironhide Games Studios and Armor Games bring the same magic to the smaller screen of the iPhone?
While Tower Defence is a pretty set-in-stone formula; stop the enemy getting from point A to point B by building towers and placing troops, Kingdom Rush adds a few more twists to create a perfect strategy based defence game. Towers can only be placed on flagged areas, which means that players will need to think carefully about which defences are used.
Enemies come in all shapes and sizes from tiny wolves to huge Yeti-like creatures that can take a fair amount of fire before keeling over. Placing the right towers is the key to success, with some enemies being more resistant to magic and others having better armour or those that can only be hit by projectiles. Remembering the pattern of the enemy in each level and reacting by placing new towers before they march towards you is vital if you want to survive.
To help you in your war against the forces of darkness there are also a couple of extra icons. The fireball lets you launch fire from the sky on to whatever stands below it. At first it doesn't do all that much damage and takes ages to restore, which means you'll be using it as a last reserve if the enemy get too close to their goal. Once you power it up with extra enhancements it becomes a lethal weapon capable of stopping larger enemies in their tracks. The other piece of assistance you get is from farmers, who can be drafted in at any time to help fight the enemy. They're pretty weak at first, but become useful when you use them in conjunction with projectile towers as they keep the enemy in one place for slightly longer.
As with many iOS games, Kingdom Rush gives you a 3 star scoring system based on how many enemies you let past. Gaining 3 stars on all maps is a tough task on the normal difficulty and letting more than a few enemies through the gates will drop this down to 2 stars.
In addition to the main campaign, there are two modes to complete once they become unlocked. The first is a Heroic Challenge, which opens when you get all three stars on the level in campaign mode. This provides elite waves of enemies and gives you a maximum level for your towers or other restrictions. If you make it through this, the Iron Challenge opens which takes away some of your towers and provides the ultimate challenge.
The iPhone version has only received minor changes in the move, icon layouts and the display of the map have been re-jigged to provide a better experience for the smaller screen. I was convinced that the iPhone version felt more difficult than its bigger brother, but it may just be down to the enhancements I chose between levels. These upgrade, available on the map screen, range from stronger troops, cheaper buildings and faster training to a better range for archers and magicians and make a vast difference to the difficulty on later levels. Finding the right way to upgrade is trial and error, along with a little strategy.
A handy encyclopedia helps you to read up on the strengths and weaknesses of your towers and the enemy, whether they have shielded armour, how fast they travel and if they have multiple 'lives'. There is also a handy link to strategy guide videos for each level, just in case you really get stuck.
Despite the genre already boasting some of the best iPhone games around, Kingdom Rush still manages to shine as one of the best Tower Defence games, even in this more compact form.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 9
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