Tower defense games are an always-popular gaming sub-genre on the iPad. Kingdom Rush, the original game, was always a cut above the tower defense pack. Stellar graphics, great soundtrack, tough (some might argue torturous) levels and bosses, all combined to make Kingdom Rush a triple-A tower-defense game.
The recently released sequel Kingdom Rush: Frontiers HD cements Kingdom Rush again as “the” tower defense game for iPad. Yet, the word sequel is the key to the only drawback for Kingdom Rush: Frontiers. It’s truly a sequel – more of the same.
For the un-initiated, Kingdom Rush: Frontiers allows players to build 4 basic towers: militia barracks, archer towers, dwarven mechanical bomb throwers, or mage towers. Once you spend your introductory budget for each level and build your first towers, you battle waves of enemies and bosses. If 20 enemies escape your towers unharmed, you lose the level and start all over again.
That’s the basic gameplay. But, as the old cliché goes, the devil is in the details. And, like any tower defense game, tower placement and tower upgrades are the key to the game. The level of complexity and strategy involved in Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is well beyond the scope of this review. But, anyone familiar with the genre will know well what the game entails – mage towers slow down and damage opponents, archer towers give you a great rate of fire, dwarven bombers deal tons of damage. But the combinations are endless, and the waves of attackers differ with every level requiring new tactics and tower deployment strategies.
The joy of Kingdom Rush: Frontiers – as with the original game – is the level of polish that the developers lavish on the game. That polish raises Kingdom Rush well beyond its competitors. The artwork and animations of towers and attackers are lushly beautiful, but at the same time funny and bursting with personality. For example, Cronan, a barbarian hero available to players, has a special attack where he unleashes a herd of stampeding rhinos to trample attackers.
Yet, it’s not just artwork that creates Kingdom Rush: Frontier’s polish. The game’s sound and music compliment the game’s artwork. Every snap of a whip, the twang of a bow and arrow, or the explosion of a dwarven bomb, is rendered in beautiful, crisp sound all atop a lively musical score.
If the game is so great, what’s the problem exactly? Well, not all that much. After playing and replaying Kingdom Rush, I was anticipating the launch of Kingdom Rush: Frontiers. As I launched Frontiers and started playing through the game, I was surprised that the basic tower types described above had not changed from the original game. Yes, the tower’s actual abilities changed, but the basic tower types remained unchanged. That sameness nagged at me as I played the game.
The other negative about Kingdom Rush: Frontiers was the difficulty of the basic game – or the lack of difficulty. Balancing a game’s difficulty is a very tortured path for most developers. They want a game that will be challenging. Yet, they don’t want a game so challenging that casual players will abandon it in droves.
I have vivid memories of certain levels of the original Kingdom Rush that required hours of trying and retrying and tweaking my tactics and strategy. Kingdom Rush: Frontiers was the opposite. I powered through the game’s content extremely quickly – rarely having to replay a level before beating the boss and the level.
With those quibbles aside – and they are minor quibbles – I recommend Kingdom Rush: Frontiers enthusiastically and wholeheartedly. If you’re a tower defense fan – or you’re curious about tower defense games – don’t hesitate to buy and download Kingdom Rush: Frontiers immediately.
Kingdom Rush: Frontiers review from my 9-year-old son – Zachary: One thing I really liked was the game’s new towers and some of their abilities. “Die monsters!”
Here’s an App Store link for Kingdom Rush: Frontiers. The app is $4.99 with additional in-app purchases available (you can purchase special heroes that help you on each level).
This app was purchased independently by the post author. For information on our review policies please see our About page.