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Field Runners is a strategy game that follows the structure of the popular Desktop Tower Defense game. The player places various defensive towers in a bid to stop the enemy units progressing from left to right. On the iPhone this is a simpler although no less strategic experience.
Strategy games provide experiences that require quick thinking, and forward planning from the gamer. They combine the unfolding tactics of classic games like chess, with more recent board games such as Risk. Usually focusing on a theatre of war context, players enjoy the tactical overview of the battle these games provide.
Field Runners in unique because of its easy touch interface. Players can place and upgrade towers by simply touching the iPhone screen. The fixed rectangular arenas can be viewed by dragging a finger on the screen or pinching to zoom.
The game is visually impressive as are the various upgrade options. There are also a varied bunch of infantry and mounted troops as well as land based and flying vehicles. Add to this the three levels to work through and this game offers great value and variety.
Although the game provides a fast forward option from stage 70 onwards, I'd really have liked that option in the early levels too so I could speed up the progress of the enemies once I had my defenses set out.
Players will be attracted to the game because of the balance between the real time strategy elements of the flow of enemies and the turn based wave structure. As I set out my ingenious defenses and waited for the enemy to arrive I was reminded both of Command and Conquer and Advance Wars. More interesting though was the immediate interest my kids showed to the game, and their ability to quickly understand the strategies involved.
The stop-start nature of the attack waves makes it ideal for playing while waiting in a queue, or consuming some other entertainment. I found I could watch Scrubs with my iPhone on my lap and check in now and again to make sure I was keeping the attacking hoards at bay.
The simple interface makes the game accessible for young players and novices alike. Those with more experience may find the going a little slow at first, but given time and Field Runners will challenge even the most proficient of strategists. Limited options may balk some players used to full versions of this Tower Defense format, but those willing to forgo the gadgets will find the limited arsenal part of the appeal.
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