PLATFORMS | IOS
DEVELOPER/PUBLISHER | SUBATOMIC STUDIOS
RELEASE DATE | LATE SUMMER 2012
A few weeks back, I reviewed Fieldrunners, a popular mobile game launched back in 2008 that had just been ported over to the PC. It was one of the most challenging, tower defense games I’ve ever played, but it was fun. The game was an innovative take on its genre, and the levels were full of chaos and explosions, which is all you can really ask for in a video game.
I recently got the chance to visit Subatomic Studios, a small indie studio in Cambridge, and try out the sequel, Fieldrunners 2. As with most sequels, you expect some improvements, but most importantly, you want a larger sense of scope. The game needs to feel bigger and better than its predecessor.
Fieldrunners 2 takes that notion and decides to multiply it by ten. The game is not only bigger in scope–the maps are larger, and the world is expansive–but it’s bigger in terms of gameplay. Your home screen is an island split up into four environmental sections, and each of these sections contains a different play mode. There is the traditional mode people remember from the first one, but there is also a sudden death mode that is the ultimate test of success under pressure, and a puzzle mode that has you manipulating the map and leading combatants into traps. Subatomic added more content for a larger experience.
Lead Designer Chris Canfield stated that this was one of the main focuses for Fieldrunners 2.
“We wanted to create a bigger sense of the world around you,” said Canfield. “The moment to moment gameplay on Fieldrunners 1 we thought was pretty good, but there was less of a sense of progression… It was more bite-sized and we wanted to make it more meal-sized.”
Their goal was to add more content, and they seem to have succeeded as the game clocks in at over 20 hours.
Each map is designed to give you a different experience, and you can play in any number of ways, thanks to all new towers, and airstrike attacks. You can customize what you use based on what weapons you unlock, and how many “coins” you can rack up. Coins work as in-game currency, which can be used to unlock bonus content. The more you play, and the harder the levels you unlock, the more coins you earn. In Fieldrunners 1, all you needed was the victory gained by beating a level, and now it is so much more.
Early on, a player notices that the game seems easier than its predecessor, but this is not necessarily unwelcome. Even Canfield admits that the first one was way too difficult. The maps still provide a challenge, even in casual mode, and get more difficult as you progress. It just comes off as more balanced, allowing for players of all skill levels to join in on the fun.
When it comes down to it, Fieldrunners 2, taking away all discussion of gameplay and mechanics, is just more beautiful than its predecessor. Updated graphics provide all new levels of detail to the maps and the environments, and to the runners themselves. Instead of explosions, the runners trip, run in different directions, and stumble. It’s to provide a sense of “swarming,” according to Canfield, instead of the linear movements of Fieldrunners 1. It adds a whole level of realism to a game that needed none in the first place, but that helps to include the player.
Subatomic wanted to give the player a sense that they were doing a lot by not doing much at all, a sense of accomplishment for something that really is not that complicated. They successfully did that in Fieldrunners 1, and have improved on that greatly in Fieldrunners 2. The game will be available for iPhones and iPads later this summer.