Kingdom Rush Frontiers Review: Another Tower Defense Winner
If ever it comes time to retire a game genre, tower defense games should be first in line. It’s come to the point where I cringe whenever I’m asked to review one. Luckily, this time the game in question is Kingdom Rush Frontiers, the sequel to what was inarguably last year’s best TD game. Kingdom Rush Frontiers continues to deliver top-notch TD fun.
In terms of core gameplay, KRF is just like any tower-defense game. You build towers — archers, cannons, milita, magic — and then use them to ward of waves of enemies trying to get all up in your base. As each level persists you earn more gold, which you can use to build more towers or to upgrade the towers you have. At the end of each level is a tough boss wave that truly tests the defenses you’ve built up. Every TD game does this; KRF does it extremely well, with a good pace and a lot of enemy types and upgrades.
Last year, though, KR put a twist to the formula: they actually gave players something to do as the enemy attacked: position troops, deploy reinforcements, set off spells, and command heroes across the battlefield. Not surprisingly, all of that has carried over to KRF. This engagement during the course of battle, instead of merely watching things unfold, makes KRF more engaging and entertaining than a run-of-the-mill TD game.
In KRF things are even more interesting. For one, the heroes are more varied and customizable, earning points and leveling and gaining new powers. There are nine heroes to unlock, each one with different strengths and weaknesses. These heroes can die during a level, but they respawn after a short time. And a good thing, too — these heroes are vital in winning the level, and especially in defeating the toughest boss monsters.
Also new are tower types and upgrades. A new tower type, Mercenaries, lets you spend some coin to hire out warriors to help fight your battles. This can be valuable in a pinch, especially if your hero has gone down, and it also gives you more troops to command during battle. Meanwhile, the other tower types get a new variety of upgrades, including some powerful and fun options. There’s a lot going on in KRF, and it’s a load of fun trying to command it all.
The other thing KRF carries over is the excellent visual and audio presentation. Towers are distinctive, enemies are varied, and some of the bosses are downright cool-looking (I loved the Executioner). Armor Games has really polished the presentation of this game.
Because KRF is so similar to KR, the same flaws also appear. The biggest is still the lack of a Fast Forward button. I understand that the point of the game is to engage during waves, but there are still times I’d just like to let my towers do the work as quickly as possible. Come on, devs, give me a 2x button!
Also, Ironhide has again chosen to release a separate HD version of KRF, instead of going the Universal route. I still don’t understand this choice; it’s so easy nowadays to make an app Universal, and I don’t see anything here like extreme cinematics or 3D graphics to justify the decision. It means that when you chose to buy KRF, you’re going to have to decide where you want to play it most, unless you want to pay twice.
Kingdom Rush Frontiers is at least s good as Kingdom Rush. In fact, I think I enjoyed this sequel a little more than the original! It’s a little more well-tuned, a little more fast-paced, and a little more creative. It’s a sequel worth owning.
Our score: 4.5 out of 5