Sunday, December 8, 2013

Review: Kingdom Rush

Kingdom Rush by Ironhide Games is a tower defense game, the main object of which is to defend your home base by optimally placing structures to fend off the waves and waves of enemies trying to overwhelm your forces with a snowballing determination. You have four different classes of towers to build: magic (ranged and powerful, but some enemies are immune), Archer (ranged and weak, but cheap to build), Barracks (ground soldiers with little range who can slow down the enemy), and Cannons (ranged and very powerful but slow). The enemies are widely varied (goblins, trolls, bandits and other baddies) and almost every level presents a different challenge, be it giant bosses, new mechanics, or added lanes for enemies to attack you.
           

Kingdom Rush feels good on a mobile device. Every tap feels crisp, the accuracy is perfect and even on the screen of my phone I always felt like I had just enough room to maneuver without being cramped. The music fits the game, which is really the most I can say about it. Characters you tap make sound effects or shout movie references and the art style is cartoonish… but not cute. The layout fit my device, and I had no frame rate stutters or other issues I’ve come to associate with mobile titles. Overall, Kingdom Rush has an incredible amount of polish. From the menus to the in-game actions, the game looks and feels miles ahead of nearly any other mobile title.


This is not a game brimming with story, customization or really any other bells and whistles. The only addition to the core game is an encyclopedia which has specific descriptions of each enemy you’ve encountered. It seems as though rather than including anything extra, the developers decided to perfect every feature thinkable in the core game. Tap on any of your ground forces and you can read their names and stats, tap on any enemy and you can see their health bar along with their attack damage. This is by no means a mind-blowing feature but it’s the type of little touch that makes Kingdom Rush feel like a fully realized game.

This game does get quite punishing towards the end stages; I had to roll the difficulty down to casual on a few of the final stages. At points I did feel as though the game was impossible without add-ons and upgrades. I should note however that unlike entirely too many mobile games lately, all of the items purchasable in game can only be purchased through currency earned in-game. NO MICROTRANSACTIONS!


In writing this review, I tried to come up with a few criticisms. I was mostly unsuccessful, save for two issues. The first, and my only serious issue with this game, is that it is not at all feasible as a quick pick up and play game. One level would typically take me 25 minutes or so to complete. There is also no option to save progress through a level or hold your spot--exit the game for a moment to check something, and your progress is gone. My second and much smaller criticism is the lack of customization. With the attention to detail this game exhibits, I would have enjoyed some way to make my experience slightly different from others. Something as simple as changing the names of heroes or the colors of their clothing would have gone a long way for me. 

Overall, Kingdom Rush is great; I would even go so far as to call it an exemplar of the tower defense genre. Without a doubt, this is the best tower defense game I have played on mobile, and I’ve played plenty. This mobile title is polished, funny and addictive; most of all, it’s enjoyable. It’s not exactly a new game, having been out on mobile devices for well over a year at this point, but it’s a steal at $3 ($1 for the standard version).


If you enjoyed my review feel free to comment and let me know what you think I should review next!

Buy it for iOS (HD) | Android

Released: 2011-12-19 (iPad) 2012-06-28 (iPhone) 2013-05-15 (Android)
Publisher: Armor Games
Developer: Ironhide Game Studio

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