Kingdom Rush is one of the best tower defense strategy games out there that is only let down by the lack of truly strategic tower commands. The Good:
+ Excellent graphics
+ Linear game-play with RPG-esque progression
+ Hours of game-play
+ Difficult (could be considered a con, see below)
+ (new!) Difficulty level can be adjustedThe Bad:
- Very short campaign, I'd personally prefer a longer campaign and fewer side missions
- No real tactical control over towers compared to Defender's Quest
- Cannot view enemy/tower documentation while playing
Kingdom Rush is a tablet ported tower defense game set in a medieval high fantasy world. Like most tower defense games you are given a puzzle-like map stage and have to build towers along the enemy's predefined path in an attempt to obstruct said enemy as they pass through.
Overall it's a good looking game with a fair sense of progression; as you play stages you are awarded stars which allow you to unlock new perks which upgrade the performance of just about every aspect of your defenses. Kingdoms Rush also allows you to pick from a pool of heroes, each with different statics and abilities to utilize in each stage. Some stages will necessitate a ranged hero, in others a melee hero is optimal. Who you choose for what stage can impact the overall difficulty of the level.
In my opinion all these variables add to the overall strategy of the game but I feel that additional depth is needed. The game lacks a certain finesse that I've seen in other tower defense games; notably the ability to tell each tower which type of enemy units to target. Maybe I want my mage to target only the strongest enemies and leave the weak units for my archers. Maybe I want my soldiers to spread out so as to block as much of the path as possible instead of all ganging up on one enemy while all the other enemies walk on by just as happy as you please. Maybe I'd like my artillery to target the enemy units nearest their spawn point for better collateral damage instead of always targeting that one loner way up front. Well in Kingdom Rush you can't, you are left at the mercy of the AI which has caused me to restart stages more often than I'd like to admit.
The campaign story is no Shakespeare but it gets the job done.... until it ends when you are 33% done with the game. Heck, I figured I must have at least another half dozen or more stages to go yet when the credits started rolling. Apparently the remainder 66% of the game tasks you with individual stages which are hard (in contrast to the campaign stages).
For some perspective: it took me one try on all but the final stage of the campaign to get through those stages with at least one star. Stages following the campaign require repeated playthroughs just to get that one star and often stages are large enough to last a good half hour. It's a very time consuming trial and error process during which your interest in the game continually ebbs due to a lack of passive progression even through failure.
Another facet I bemoaned is the lack of accessible documentation while in-game. When on the campaign map you can access a bevy of useful information about different enemies/towers in the game and what their stats are but it's only accessible from the campaign map, nowhere else, especially not during a stage when such information can really come in handy.
Overall I enjoyed this game - polished graphics and linear story are just long enough for you to grab your Steam trading cards and scram. Some players may appreciate the brutal challenge later levels present but there are those of us who play causally and I, for one, am delighted the devs added a difficulty setting post release.