Fieldrunners is yet another tower defense game in the crowded market that is practically teeming with such titles. Is Fieldrunner a game that’s worth the player's money and time, or it's just another mediocre title, reusing a recipe that proved successful for a lot of other studios?
First of all, Fieldrunners is an old game. It was launched back in 2008 as an iOS title, but the game made it later on all conceivable platforms, with the exception of Linux of course. It arrived on Android in 2011 and even in Google Chrome, as a paid app.
As Linux user and gamer, I am getting used to receiving old games in Humble Bundle packages and I have to say that without the guys from the Humble Bundle initiative, the Linux platform would be a much poorer place.
The number of games promoted for Linux, without the help of Humble Bundle is negligible. There is no doubt in my mind that even the mighty Steam is now developed for Linux because of the excellent sales of the Humble Bundle for the Linux platform.
Before starting analyzing the game, we must make it clear exactly what a tower defense game is. The first game of this type that got any kind of traction was DOTA mod (Defense of the Ancients) for Warcraft 3. Gamers played this mod a lot more than the actual game and it took developers a while to understand that there's a lot of money to be made in this new genre.
Fieldrunners was made especially for touch screen, and back then there weren’t a lot of titles in the tower defense genre. It was a blast back then, but we are playing it on Linux four years later and game developers have evolved a lot in the meantime. Installation
The developers, Subatomic Studios are providing packages for every Linux system. There’s a tar.gz one that contains all the necessary files to run the game without installing, a .rpm file for Red Hat based operating system, and a .deb file for Debian-based operating system.
We've installed Fieldrunners in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and Ubuntu 12.10 Alpha 2 and there weren’t any major problem with the installation.
The installation process is quite simple and there are just a couple of commands that must be entered into a terminal to achieve that. Keep in mind that the game has quite a few dependencies and it’s almost certain that users will have to install them all. sudo dpkg –i fieldrunners-linux-1.0.0-1_noarch-1344894496.deb
sudo apt-get –f install
The first command will start the installation of the game and if there are no error massages signaling that other dependencies must be also installed, users can skip the second command. The second command will automatically install all the missing dependencies that were recorded in with the dpkg –i command. Gameplay
There's no story in this game, so we’ll not spend any time with this aspect, instead we’ll just skip to the actual gameplay. As you can expect from a standard tower defense game, users will have to build various defense towers prior to an invasion, but the choice of towers is not that diverse. Keep in mind that the game was initially developed for iOS, therefore the screen had to be cleared of many buttons and functions.
It’s not called Fieldrunners for nothing. Even if there are a few levels available, they all play practically the same. Players start with a clean map where they can build how many towers they want, based on a number of four different towers (the number goes to six in other modes).
The starting selection of defenses is rather limited. Users can choose between machine guns that can fire on moving and flying targets, a green goo canon that slows down the enemies, a rocket launcher that does a lot of damage, and finally a tesla canon that is excellent against fast moving targets and does moderate damage.
The classic mode is the default choice (and the only one available) in the beginning, and players must first finish it before others, more complex ones, are unlocked. In order to finish the Classic Mode or at least to unlock other modes for that particular map (this process has to be done with every map), a player must survive 100 rounds.
After this feat is accomplished, gamers will have access to several modes: Extended, on which players will receive a couple more defenses, and Endless, in which there is no limit on the rounds of incoming enemies.
There are a total of eight maps that can be unlocked. Some of them permit access through multiple entries, others have a more complicated layout, and so on. The Bad
The game shows its mobile roots. After playing years of complex tower defense games, I’ve come to expect a lot more complexity and variety. It may have been interesting a few years back, but now it hardly raises an eyebrow.
Fieldrunner only runs in a 4:3 ratio. It’s not pretty and some people might take offense, but I didn’t find it to be troublesome. The Good
In spite of its shortcomings, I found Fieldrunners to be entertaining. There are a couple of things that other games have failed to realize and consequently hasn’t been implemented. First of all, the pause button is really helpful, allowing players to build towers when the game is paused. Secondly, the building is done instantaneously, with no building animations and delays. Conclusion
Fieldrunners is an old game and it shows. The graphics are static and faded, animations are simple and the music is extremely repetitive. Even so, the game manages to provide a modicum of entertainment and I can recommend it to all you TD fans out there. You know who you are!