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Defend the Realm in Kingdom Rush
You are the general, fresh off a boat at the seaside town of Southport, the King has requested that you take command of a small battalion of soldiers in order to rout the bandits that have been giving trouble to the town's citizens. In order to accomplish your task, you must take to the roads, set up defenses and stop the enemies from reaching the town. The plan goes pretty well, but also unveils another truth: that these are more than just random bandit attacks, the kingdom is in danger, and it is up to you to save everyone.
It's the perfect setting for a TD game, and Kingdom Rush makes the challenge fun and exciting to take part in.
Those new to the tower defense game genre will find Kingdom Rush's learning curve to be very player friendly. Most maps present players with varying ways to effectively halt enemy troops (as opposed to certain games that will require players to have specific defense setups in order to succeed). This open-style gameplay allows and encourages players to experiment with various defense structures and troop deployment -and also creates a more dynamic sense of play. Veterans of TD titles will find the formula to be true to form and spirit of the genre, but Kingdom Rush also presents new elements and factors that make the game exciting to play -most particularly, the addition of instant troop reinforcements and defense structures that deploy troops.
So is the Kingdom Rush game the exciting tower defense game is promises to be? Or should players consider rushing off to play a different game? Read our full review to find out.
The Story of Kingdom Rush
Oh yes, there is a story here. You, the General (you'd have to be, that is why the king is telling you to command his troops), will have to defeat the bandits attacking the town of Southport. But that is just the first step of an even greater journey. Right after you finish the first mission, the bigger picture is shown: you are up against more than just bandits and thieves. Orcs, goblins and even greater threats are out there, and they are organized and marching towards the capital.
Nothing exceptionally unique -especially for fans of the fantasy genre; but the story works. The quick narrative for each stage provides players with a good idea of the events that are unfolding and it also makes the game a little more interesting to play.
The rest of the events that unfold are pretty staple for a story with that kind of introduction -as you progress through the different stages, you encounter various groups and factions that are either tasked to join you or will volunteer to help you out in specific places. Most particular are the Elven rangers whom, despite their usefulness, only appears in one stage (a small regiment of these troops would have proved to be really useful for the final battle).
Naturally, the game ends in a climactic battle between your (almost) fully upgraded defenses against a dark malevolent force hell-bent on taking over humanity. It is a pretty fun quest to take, with literally hundreds of enemies charging from one point to another, and the only thing stopping them (literally) is you.
A Feast for the Eyes and Ears
One of the most important things we have truly appreciated about the Kingdom Rush game is the fact that this game has been developed by programmers who understood where their game stands. Kingdom Rush, despite the fact that it is a fun game to play, is actually quite simple in terms of presentation. This makes it easy for low end desktop computers and slow netbooks to run the game easily -hardly any slowdown at all, even with the image settings set on high or when plenty of enemies charge into the screen (if you are having problems running it on an Atom device, you might want to change your browser instead). Still, some devices will start skipping out on some frames so it is important to tweak the game's visual settings according to your system.
We appreciate this game's cartoon-like line art visual style. The various troops and enemies are depicted as miniature caricatures charging across the paths. The graphics lend themselves well to Kingdom Rush's more humorous approach. The backgrounds and structures are pretty well made -each element stands out well enough for the eye to see but not too distracting when you need to get a good overhead view of the stage. Figuring out the positions of enemies in the path as well as effectiveness of your tower defenses is a simple thanks to the easy-to-follow overhead view. The game's action stays on a single screen so there is no need to scroll around or use a map view.
With its graphics, Kingdom Rush plays out pretty well. The various visual elements all come together in a composition that makes you want to see more. The animations of the various troops engaging in combat inspires players to learn better defensive strategies, and the satisfying comic-book style effects depicting successful enemy attacks gives light to the fact that you are under siege by a legion of monsters.
The audio for the game could use a little more tweaking - particularly with signaling the player about incoming enemy waves and more importantly, notifying you to the fact that the charge time for the meteor spell and reinforcements are available. Aside from that, the music is pretty upbeat and fun to listen to while the rest of the sound effects compliment the game's visual animations.
The Gameplay of Kingdom Rush
As expected, the game's challenge centers around on your ability to assign the right tower for the right position at the right moment. Finding those all-important chokepoints and key positions can mean the difference between winning without taking a single loss of HP and losing a stage completely -on the later stages at least. The game does allow room for mistakes and players can easily catch up on a failing strategy in a couple of turns as long as they can minimize any loses in HP. In terms of difficulty, the game is fair to both new and old players, though those who are not quite up to the challenge can opt to switch the game into an easy mode that makes the challenges a whole lot easier to overcome.
To compensate, kingdom rush provides special batches for those who finish the game and its bonus challenges on the normal difficulty setting. Speaking of badges, there are four pages worth of achievement badges to collect in the game. Some can be easily collected as you go through the course of the game, while others may take a bit more time and effort to earn. None of the trophies are too difficult and can be collected later on when you have upgraded your defense options.
What makes the gameplay a little more dynamic is the fact that players can deploy a quick squad of two troops into the field after every few seconds. These militiamen are small and weak, but they can help stem the oncoming tide of enemies when you are being overrun. The best thing about these troops is that they will engage one enemy each -more than enough for your towers to lay waste on the unsuspecting victim. Be sure to incorporate this option as part of your strategy -after all, the reinforcements are free. When fully upgraded, these two freebie soldiers become key additions to your defensive line -just be sure to take note of the fact that upon deployment, these two will only stay for a set amount of time, you will have to summon them again later on.
Aside from the troop reinforcements, the barrack-type structures will summon three soldiers to stop your enemies. Like the reinforcements, these three will each take on one enemy each (or team up on a single target if there are no other enemies available). Each barracks tower has its own options for setting the rally points allowing you to properly strategize the location of troops. A good combination of barracks with the more contemporary defense towers can help create those all so crucial chokepoints for stopping the enemy (literally).
There are three basic types of defense towers in the game (not counting the barracks type). These are the Archer, Mage and Dwarven type towers. Archer shoots fast and has good range, but has the lowest amount of damage. They easily dispatch low HP troops but you will need several to successfully beat heavily armored enemies. When upgraded, these archer towers can turn into very fast shooting ranger towers that can whittle down mobs of enemies fast, this is complemented by abilities that will entangle and trap enemy troops that approach it. They can also be turned into musketeer shooters, which slows down the firing rate, but allows them to deal out more damage instantly (and in some cases, instantly kill high HP targets).
Mage towers also have a good range and can shoot a lot stronger than archer towers. However, their firing rate is pretty low, so they are not that effective when faced with large numbers of fast moving, low HP enemies. When fully upgraded, a single mage tower can hold off plenty of troops thanks to its high damage magic beams, the inclusion of an instant death spell and teleport makes it crucial for players to have several fully upgraded mage towers near the exit area. The other type of mage tower upgrade turns it into a powerful support tower that summons a rock golem for holding off enemies and also casts debilitating spells against enemies -the default attack of the tower lowers enemy armor and one of the abilities turns an enemy into a low defense sheep that can easily be killed by other towers.
Lastly, there are the Dwarven bomber types. These are your hard hitting, splash damage towers. Strong against ground troops but unable to hit airborne targets. Incorporating the dwarven buildings is not necessary in the main game as it is possible to succeed in most of the game's stages without it. The worst part about these towers is their high cost and the incredibly slow firing rates. However, all the standard upgrades have been bought from the main menu and the deployed towers are raised to higher levels, and their destructive power starts to truly shine.
At max level, these towers can turn into crowd control tesla shooters that will zap multiple targets in a single attack. The other form arms the cannon with a massively powerful projectile that causes plenty of splash damage, and additional explosive attacks such as one that helps rain down attacks on a few targets and one that fires super long range missiles at enemies on-screen. These missiles will home in on a target -if it dies before the missile explodes, it will seek out a new enemy. This ensures that each missile fired is never lost, making it extremely effective.
Aside from these basic structures, the game also provides players with special buildings that are connected to specific stages. The mage's sun tower is only available when you reach the Stormcloud temple and allows players to fire a powerful heat ray at a specific enemy every few seconds. The Sylvan Elven base at the Silvercloak forest will need a bit of repairing, but this investment pays off as it allows players to recruit powerful Sylvan Elves which dish out plenty of damage in their long range and short range attacks. A cave in the mountains will give players the option of hiring a Sasquatch to aid in their fight -though you will need to blow up the ice covering the cave with a well placed meteor spell.
We have to say, Iron Hide's Kingdom Rush is great castle game that places plenty of emphasis on having fun rather than frustrating players with a puzzle aspect that takes away from the flow of the action. At the same time, the waves are formed in such a way that players are actually encouraged to experiment with defensive formations that makes each time you play a little bit different. 12 story stages (and 24 challenge stages) does feel a bit short in the long term as the game will make you want to play just a little bit more. Kingdom Rush is definitely a tower defense game that we recommend to new and old fans of the genre. Credit must also go to Armor Games for backing such a highly polished tower defense game. We give this game a well fed militia's 96/100.