Tower defense games seem to be popping up everywhere these days, so it's no surprise that the new PSP minis line of games gets its own version in the form of Fieldrunners. Before I go any further, though, I need to point out to those of you with an iPhone or iPod touch that this game first appeared on the Apple App Store and that it can currently be had there at less than half the price of the PSP version. However, before you Alt-Tab over to iTunes, you may want to read on a little further.
Fieldrunners delivers the basics of a tower defense game. You get a stream of enemies that enter from one end of the screen and head for the other and you're given the goal of preventing them from doing so. The implement of your wrath directed at those with the gall to attempt to run from one place to another is an arsenal of tower types, each with its own special attack and effective range. Gun, lightning, and laser towers direct their fire at individual enemies, mortars can strike groups from a distance, flamethrowers will have enemies burning for a short while, and ice and goo guns will slow enemies down so that they spend more time in range of your other towers. Each of these towers can be upgraded twice to increase their range and effectiveness, and you pay for everything by earning money for the elimination of each enemy. If that alls sounds pretty basic for a tower defense game it's because it is. You have three basic classes of towers that upgrade in a simple fashion and a few basic enemy types. That's pretty much it - no story, background, or anything of interest to disguise the fact that you're simply placing nondescript towers to kill mindless enemies simply for the sake of their killing.
Most of the levels in the game are wide open, allowing you to use your towers to define the path that enemies must take through the level. At first this sounds like it would lead to a lot of strategic options, but in practice it quickly gets old. The biggest problem is that the limited number of enemy types and their single-minded pursuit of their goal means that you can do almost anything and still be successful. Making matters worse, you have to fend off 100 waves of enemies in a level and for most of that time you're not really doing anything. You spend a lot of time just sitting there watching the next wave come through, occasionally placing a new tower or upgrading an existing one. It grows boring pretty quickly, and there were times when I got tired of watching the game so I set it down and let it run on its own for a while. I don't know about you, but I prefer games that can hold my interest for more than five minutes and there are plenty of tower games out there that can do that.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 62%. Basically, it's too basic to be much fun.