Kingdom Rush (iPhone) Review

Ned Jordan
In Short
If you're a fan of strategy games, then Kingdom Rush is a must-have for your iPhone or iPad.

You can't review mobile games for any respectable amount of time without playing more than your share of tower defense games. Kingdom Rush is the latest one to find its way onto my iPhone or iPad and in spite of the fact that I've played more tower defense games than I can remember, I had a blast playing it. Why that's the case is a little hard to put my finger on, probably because it's more the sum of a number of little things than it is one single factor. After all, the game certainly doesn't attempt to reinvent the genre. You have your path that winds across the screen, the enemies that try to make it to the end of that path, and the towers you place along the route to stop them. Killing enemies earns you coins which can then be spent to build new towers or upgrade existing towers. Survive all of the attack waves without letting too many enemies through and you win. No surprises there, right?

So what makes Kingdom Rush more fun to play than other tower defense games? Part of the it is probably due to the presentation and art style. Bright cartoon-like graphics and a sense of humor certainly add to the fun.

There's also the tremendous variety of enemies, some who have pretty dirty tricks up their sleeves such as the necromancers who have an annoying habit of spawning skeletal warriors that spring from the ground around them. This diversified attack force combined with your abilities to call militia men into action anywhere along the path and to rain fireballs from the sky makes the game a very active experience. The levels in many tower defense games reach a point at which you've built all the towers that you can and your role is reduced to that of a bystander, watching as each wave winds past your towers and your fully automated defenses. This never happens in Kingdom Rush ' in fact, the opposite is true. The levels' excitement and the need for your active participation actually increase as each level plays out.

The game allows you to progressively upgrade the four tower types, but also lets you to select a specialization for the towers once you reach the top tier of upgrades. For example, the archer tower can be made into a musketeer tower with the ability to snipe at long range or a ranger tower with a high rate of fire. You can then decide to arm the rangers with poisoned or barbed arrows, or, in other words, to give them a damage over time attack versus one with higher damage effects. Your choice of specialization needs to factor in the tower's location, the layout of the attackers' path, which other towers are nearby, and other attributes of your defensive strategy. And these choices really do matter in Kingdom Rush because the game is decidedly challenging. Even on the easy setting you'll find the going getting tough by the time you hit the mid-game levels.

In addition to the tower upgrades, the game allows you to cash in the stars you've earned through your victories for permanent upgrades to your towers, fireball spells, and militia. It's important to choose the upgrades that fit with your strategies, but luckily if you make a mistake you can reset your upgrades at any time and get a full refund of the stars that you've spent. The game gives you extra opportunities to earn stars by replaying the levels that you've already beaten in challenge modes that require you to beat the level again without letting a single enemy through, with limited tower types, reduced upgrades, and similar restrictions. These levels will indeed give you a challenge, but they are exciting and there is certainly a feeling of satisfaction once you've beat them.

You can also spend stars to unlock powerful hero units that will roam the battlefield under your control, but I found that the high cost of unlocking the heroes (fifteen stars), the number of other upgrades that you must forgo to unlock the heroes, and their limited effectiveness when deployed made them unworthy of the cost and effort to deploy them.

Overall, Kingdom Rush is a very enjoyable game. The gaming challenge and hours of play you will get from it make it one of the best gaming bargains you'll find.

Final Rating: 94%

iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store

Transmitted: 10/1/2023 8:58:27 AM