Kingdom Rush: Frontiers Review– Ironhide’s ferociously-anticipated tower-defense sequel
Congratulations: It’s a Sequel!
They’ve only gone and done it. They’ve only gone and bloody done it after all this time. Yes, that’s right Kingdom fans of the Rush denomination, Kingdom Rush: Frontiers has finally emerged from the womb of IronHide and far from the screeching, disgusting, and altogether unsightly mess that results from actual pregnancy, we have a stunningly handsome, impossibly addictive, and genre-defining tower defense game. This is a game that the release of which has been anticipated for so long that people have begun to grow impatient and agitated to the point of medical difficulty, with anticipatory sweats and such vivid nightmares about the release date being pushed back to 2014 that I occasionally wake up screaming; I don’t know about you, but that’s probably scarier than most dreams in which I have died. So, what do we make of this spanking new game-baby that’s just popped out of the warm and hospitable womb of Ironhide? Well, a game of this quality cannot be summed up in a mere sentence, so I’ll elaborate below, but not before commending the developer for finally giving the audience what they wanted. Congratulations, IronHide: It’s a sequel !
Firstly, if you have expectations of wildly different experience than the first, then I suggest you prepare yourself to be a little disappointed since pretty much everything about the gameplay is the same as the sweet, sweet original. The four base tower-types remain untouched, and you still build these ranged, artillery, magic, and melee towers at pre-designated points around the path along which the enemy forces advance in waves towards the entry point of your kingdom. Everything even looks pretty much the game, and short of the slightly tweaked menus and the word ‘Frontiers’ after the original title, you would be forgiven at times for thinking this was indeed the original. But to those that were expecting or hoping for something completely different, I ask this one question: Why? Why attempt to reinvent the wheel when you can simply perfect it and smooth down its edges to make it better? That’s right, I’m comparing the game to the wheel, and Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is a product of careful refinement that successfully performs the difficult feat of perfecting perfection.
Though some question the developers’ loyalty to the four base tower classifications, it seems that within the apparent confines of this four-fold restriction, innovation continues to flourish. The brand-new upgrade paths for the towers pretty much speak for themselves and use these four categories bring us two new tower upgrades per category. The ranged towers can now eventually be upgraded to a crossbow fort or windwalker’s totem, the magic towers to an archmage or necromancer, the melee to an assassin’s guild or knights templar, and the artillery towers to the DWAARP the mobile battle-mecha T-200. Each of these new towers has a variety of capabilities and differing effectiveness against certain enemies, so your entire strategy is actually based around the way in which you upgrade them. This is and has always been the beauty of the game because if you find that your strategy isn’t working, you will likely find success – and as a result a entirely different gaming experience - in the progression of your tower upgrades.
Heroism is Expensive
One of the few things that I found left somewhat of a sour taste in my mouth was how costly the heroes are. We’ve been teased and tantalised for months with images of Mirage the Assassin, as well as Alric, Cronan, and recently Blackthorne, and my eagerness to try them out was blunted substantially by my absolute lack of eagerness in parting with $6.99 (£4.99) for Ashbite the Dragon, whose Wildfire Barrage, though powerful, just isn’t worth me parting with that much cash for. Similar costliness is demonstrated with the other heroes such as Sha’Tra, whose abduction ability yet again not quite worth the $5.99 (£4.99) it costs to acquire him.
This means, as before, if you want to see and experience the best that Kingdom Rush: Frontiers has to offer, you’re going to have to pay for it, though I’d rather part with cash for the greatest tower defense game that ever was than any other title, I must admit.
Greater than Greatness
You’ll likely read in many reviews on the internet about how the game is a refinement of an already-brilliant original; how this sequel requires describing with use of the superlative instead of just regular adjectives like ‘great’ or ‘brilliant’, and also how the game is more of an expansion than an entirely new creation that is extrinsic of its legendary original title on which it is based. All of these statements and descriptions are extremely accurate, as well. Sure, I was a little disappointed at the relatively similar look of everything, but we’ve known how it’s going to look for a long time so have had the time to accept it and simply realise that the game is actually the second chapter in a book of greatness that has only just started being written.
Instead of dwelling on the prices of the heroes and the samey look, we should instead bask in the reverence of the new towers, the retention of what is probably one of the best aesthetic style in the history of tower defense (on any platform), and the wonderful nerdy/geeky references that the game frequently slips in through the occasional familiar mini-boss or puzzle in the game. Let’s put it this way: if Ironhide had done anything differently, would you still be as pleased as you most definitely should be with the – and I can do nothing but use superlatives here – most addictive and greatest tower defense game of all time.
Kingdom Rush Frontiers: Heroes and Towers Information
Blackthorne the Corsair - Trailer
Alric The Warrior - Trailer
Cronan The Beastmaster - Trailer
Mirage The Assassin - Trailer
Kingdom Rush: Frontiers - The time is nearly upon us: some more information on potential features
While a considerable portion of the enjoyment of some games relies on the anticipation for their release and results in disappointment thereafter, I don’t see any way that the landing of Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is going to involve anything but full satisfaction, extreme levels of entertainment, and an overwhelmingly positive reception by 99% of the fans out there. I say this because the original Kingdom Rush was a game of such high quality that it instantly shamed all other developers of every other tower defense game for being automatically inferior to it. It isn’t the fault of the other games, the fact is that Kingdom Rush is simply too good for anyone else to compete with. From what we know about the sequel – which is due to make all of our lives worth living sometime this spring – it is going to have all of the punchy charisma of the original but with some enhancements and already-announced upgrades that are discussed below.
The original four tower types remain in Kingdom Rush: Frontiers, but we are due some well-deserved upgrades to the upgrades of our towers. There are two upgrades for each tower type that have already been announced.
Produces assassins that can remain hidden in order to ambush the enemy. Special upgrades include evasive manoeuvres, the ability to steal gold from enemies, and a special damaging attack.
Highly-armoured foot soldiers emerge from here, possessing special upgrades that can increase their maximum health, allow them to revive after dying, and a health-draining attack that continues to drain the health of the foes for some time after hitting them.
Ranged Tower Upgrades
This building has crossbow soldiers, striking a balance between speed and power. Upgrades include the ability to shoot a constant stream of bolts and a falcon spotter than allows for increased range of attack
This building contains tribesmen who throw axes to stun enemies, with special upgrades including magic bursts that prevent enemies from using their powers temporarily.
Artillery Tower Upgrades
The building acts as a launch pad for a machine that shoots explosive artillery. Special upgrades include the ability to spread oil to slow down enemies and also long-range missiles.
Short for Drilling Weaponized Auto-Attack Rumble Platform, this tower creates localized earthquakes to damage nearby enemies. Special upgrades include damaging enemies with a shower of fire and an instant-kill attack
Necromancers can resurrect enemies and make them fight on your side. Special abilities include the release of pestilence or the ability to summon a ‘death rider’ to help with your efforts.
These have the power to store and then release up to three deadly bolts simultaneously. If a bolt killsl an enemy, the remaining bolts will track enemies. Enemies that have been killed will explode, damaging others around them, and you can also summon the wrath of nature in the form of a tornado.
The heroes in the original version were extremely useful in a pinch, allowing you to deploy them and wreak havoc throughout the terrain. Kingdom Rush: Frontiers will expand on the hero concept by allowing you to upgrade your heroes much like you towers, opening up a new dimension of strategy in the game. There have been three hero descriptions released and they are as follows:
Alric the Warrior
Alric is fearsome warrior from Hammerhold who can summon other warriors to help him. His primary skills consist of passive advantages such as increeased armour and a highly-damaging flurry attack.
Cronan the Beastmaster
This warrior has experience with fighting on all types of terrain imaginable. He has the ability to summon the power of nature to use in his attacks. He can summon boars, rhinos, or falcons as well as having a direct attack that damages the enemy. He can also summon a regenerative feature that allows him to replenish his health.
Mirage the Assassin
Mirage has sworn to use her deadly skills to protect Hammerhold. Primary skills consist of precision, which allows her to improve her attack range, as well as shadow dodge to allow her to evade attacks. Shadow dance is another feature as well as a lethal strike that can destroy the target with one hit. I do enjoy the occasionally insta-kill attack; it makes things much more interesting.
Spring has Sprung
Though this game has been tipped to arrive in Spring, it still remains absent from our lives. The time has to be extremely near for its release, but until then, maybe you can pass the time with some of the original Kingdom Rush to ease the tension.