Of all the gaming genres that online play has more or less created, few are quite so infamous or frustrating as tower defense games. They're tons of fun, sure, but you usually get thwomped in the end no matter how good you are.
Kingdom Rush is, I think, an attempt to get around that fact by introducing a more balanced tower defense experience. And, for the most part, it's pretty successful - though it's also still damn hard.
Kingdom Rush is the tale of a kingdom under siege. Monsters are emerging from all nooks and crannies of the globe, and they're bent on bringing civilization down. Hard. Your job is to protect the weak and helpless from these marauding bastards utilizing a combination of towers, troops and well-wielded mysticism. The story is surprisingly extensive, though because it's set up purely in text you'll probably ignore all of the lore. A shame, but, shrug.
So, yeah, Kingdom Rush a tower defense game. Construct your towers, kill oncoming enemies as they wind their way down predetermined paths. What sets Kingdom Rush apart from other such titles, however - at least for me, perhaps I'm just behind the times - is that you have troops. You can create towers that deploy little soldiers who will rush out and engage the enemy, complete with life bars of their own. In this sense Kingdom Rush is a little bit RTS, though not so much that you'll ever forget the primary genre.
Does this troop deployment inclusion work? Absolutely. Though you don't have nearly as much control over your men as you would in a traditional RTS, the ability to lead troops around their tower and engage enemies who have otherwise escaped is an excellent idea. If nothing else it breaks up the sometimes monotonous nature of tower defense games.
Point and click. There's really nothing to be said about Kingdom Rush's controls other than they work.
Kingdom Rush boasts relatively pretty graphics. Each level looks different from the last, and the deeper you get into the kingdom the more the backgrounds change, moving from lush greenery to winter fields to hideous wastelands. I'm glad the programmers saw fit to shift the layout significantly, giving the game a sense of progress and depth that suits the back story.
I am not, however, terribly wowed by the units themselves. Because Kingdom Rush can have so many units on the screen at once, they're all really, really tiny, and consequently there's almost no detail to any of 'em. You have a general sense of what you're looking at, and that's about it. Hardly offensive, and probably practical given the scope of the enemy armies, but... what can I say? It's a visually basic game.
Kingdom Rush's music doesn't bowl me over, as it consists of the usual dramatic, epic medieval stuff I've heard a billion times before in video games, movies, television shows and so on. It's good for what it is, though, and doesn't get overly repetitive or tiresome, since it just kinda fades into the background while you're playing. No big complaints.
What I DID appreciate sound-wise was the voiceovers. Kingdom Rush's units talk, and they talk often - and the voice actors are actually pretty good at what they do. The dialogue is relatively clever, and everything sounds crisp and spot-on appropriate to the setting. Any browser game willing to go this distance to snag fans is A-OK in my book.
Here's the kicker. Does Kingdom Rush fit into its genre? Is it a difficult game?
In a word, yes. In four words, more or less, yes.
Kingdom Rush isn't quite a beginner's introduction to the tower defense genre, nor is it hard enough to stand toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. It is a happy medium, a game that gets gradually harder and harder at a steady pace that the average gamer will surely appreciate. I sure as hell do, for though I have experience with tower defense games, I'm no expert.
The only thing that bugged me, given my work schedule, is how long it can take to play. The enemy units are pretty bloody slow as they wind around the map. This is out of pure necessity, as too hectic a pace would make the game near impossible, but an option to speed up the frame rate during moments of sure victory would've been nice.
Good game! Kingdom Rush is a good game. It has a few niggling flaws here and there, but they're not nearly enough to detract from the experience as a whole. I highly recommend Kingdom Rush for tower defense fans, especially if you're willing to sink some cash into a browser title - there's more than enough robustness padding Kingdom Rush's game play to warrant dropping a few dollars for the premium content.
PLAY KINGDOM RUSH