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CONSOLE: iPhone/iPad DEVELOPER: Armor Games PUBLISHER: Armor Games
RELEASE DATE (NA): December 19, 2011 GENRE: Tower Defense
// review by Beverley

For honour and glory!

I have a confession to make: I am a bit of a gaming floozy. As soon as my relationship with a game gets tough and I'm not having fun anymore, I go and run around to some sexy indie game and never return. I think this is a big part of why I was never interested in getting involved with strategy RPGs. I've had friends who played Starcraft and they were so married to the game I thought it would require way too much commitment on my part. But now, I've found a sweet tower defense fling.

Kingdom Rush is a simple tower defense strategy game for the iPad and PC (as a Flash game). I probably would never have purchased it, despite the low cost of 99¢, but a friend gifted it to me and I certainly got their dollar's worth out of it. The game extracts the core objective of tower defense strategy games -- preventing a number of enemies from reach a certain point by constructing and supporting a number of defense structures -- and keeps it simple and charming. The game has pre-marked places where structures may be built and gives you the option of constructing barracks, which provide soldiers that can slow enemies down for some time and kill weak enemies; archer towers, which strike enemies with arrows (duh!); magic towers, which zap enemies to make them loose their health; and cannons, which do lots of damage but are slower to work. All these towers cost money, and as you advance in the game, you can make wacky upgrades for more which make the game more interesting. You also have re-enforcement troops which you can place wherever you like, but only for a certain time, and a fireball, which does some awesome damage but takes FOREVER to reload, so use it wisely. Like a sommelier, you must find the perfect balance of all these elements to destroy the deathly horde; at first it seems easy, but it gets more difficult!

One thing that sold me on this game is that it doesn't take itself seriously -- not in a Tranny Tramps hack kind of way, but in a way that actually makes the game fun. For example, the graphics in this game are cartoony and cute, and when the battle begins you can frequently see batman-like cartoon bubbles that pop up saying "POW", "HACK", "PAFF", and the like. Also, if you turn on the sound you can hear cheesy phrases such as, "For freedom!" My favourite is when you upgrade a magic tower and you can hear a wizard saying, "I'll put a spell on you!"

You'll have to invest heavily in your offensive power if you want to take down orcs.

Another attractive thing about this game is they always give you something new and unexpected. Sometimes, it's a crazy new enemy, like a giant abominable snowman. Other times, the upgrades you can get are both humorous and awesome, such as the barracks upgrade, "Barbarian Hull", which turns your soldiers into a bunch of hairy Vikings that are ready to kick butt, or the heat-seeking missiles you can eventually add to cannon towers.

But even as you become more and more hooked by the game, you find there is lots of replay value as well. Each time you win a game, you receive a score of one, two, or three stars. As your score improves, you earn more points to improve certain aspects of the game. For example, you could make building certain towers less expensive, or make your re-enforcement soldiers more skilled. So, if you want to win later, harder levels, it's a good idea to go back to the easier levels and win with a better score. Even if you earn a better score, you can win on other modes. There are campaign, heroic, and iron quests which make a level more difficult. If you are crazy enough to finish all that, you will likely have noticed there are accomplishments you can unlock, but that sort of thing has never been for me.

Overall, I found Kingdom Rush to be a really enjoyable game, which surprised me because I didn't think I could love a strategic RPG. I still don't think Kingdom Rush is a mythical experience or a paradigm-shattering piece, but it is something fun to do while I am waiting between classes, and I am sure I will be enjoying to for a long time... now if only I could finish the last level for the campaign mode!

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