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Kindom Rush Frontiers review: Similar to the original, but still fantastic

Kingdom Rush Frontiers keeps the same excellent gameplay with new levels and heroes to keep it interesting.

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Jason Parker
Jason_Parker.jpg

Jason Parker

Senior Editor / Reviews - Software

Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.

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3 min read

Editors' note: This review has been updated with new levels and features added in version 1.2.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers
9.0

Kindom Rush Frontiers

The Good

<b>Kingdom Rush Frontiers</b> brings more of the same great gameplay from the original with new towers, new monsters, and plenty of action in the latest update.

The Bad

The game is not universal, so you'll have to pay extra to have it on both iPhone and iPad. The premium heroes are expensive.

The Bottom Line

Fast and exciting gameplay makes Kingdom Rush Frontiers a must-have pick for tower defense fans.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers (iPhone|iPad) is the sequel to hit tower defense game Kingdom Rush, keeping the same great gameplay with fun improvements and extras. The latest update adds even more to like, including new stages, enemies, and a challenging boss fight.

Just like the original, Kingdom Rush Frontiers is set in a fantasy world where you'll battle cartoon-like mythical monsters hell-bent on destroying your kingdom. As a fixed-path tower defense game, you'll be required to choose from four different types of upgradable buildings with varying damage types to keep the evil invaders at bay. Each level has a set number of available emplacements, so it's important to choose your towers wisely.

Cartoonlike battles await (pictures)

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In between levels, you can upgrade various attributes of each tower to make them more powerful, fire faster, and decrease training time for deployable units. As an extra line of defense you also have three special abilities you can upgrade (that you'll unlock as you play) for when the towers are not quite enough. You can deploy units on the ground to back up your knights or you have a "nuking" ability for emergencies (like a flaming meteor). Both have a cool-down time (more so for the nuke ability) so you'll need to pick the best time to use them. Your third instant special ability is yours to choose, by buying items in the in-game store. Each stage you'll earn a number of gems that can be used to purchase items in between stages. I've had some luck using an ability that lets you drop a potion to freeze enemies for a short time, but, if you have the gems, there's even a "Fat Boy" nuclear weapon that clears the map.

Another cool element of the game is the ability to use and upgrade a hero; a single named unit with special abilities that you can direct to any area of the battlefield. The hero comes in handy in particularly difficult battles, and you'll have three different types that unlock as you play. Kingdom Rush Frontiers (like the original) also has several heroes you can unlock for up to $6.99 in real money, but the three you get simply from playing are quite powerful on their own.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers
When you get to the later waves of a map, tons of enemies will test your tower layout. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

There are some new towers you can unlock once you get into the fourth tier that have upgrades to let you focus on specific abilities. The Archer Tower, for example, lets you upgrade to a Crossbow Fort. From there you can choose from two abilities, including one that increases range and another that shoots a barrage of powerful arrows. Each game you start fresh at the lowest tier, so upgrading the correct towers to the highest level is part of a winning strategy.

Like many games these days, you also can buy more gems with real money, but I found I can do just fine without ponying up any extra cash. Even when a level seems like it can't be beat, you usually only need to rethink your strategy, so think twice before deciding to spend any real cash.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers
Even with upgraded towers for maximum damage, the boss fights can be extremely challenging. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Update: Attack from the sea
The latest update brings three new stages with a coastal invasion by an army of sea devils. You'll have to defend against six new enemies and endure a boss fight from Leviathan, the god of the deep sea. Fortunately, you also get two new heroes to choose from to help you in the fight.

It's true that Kingdom Rush Frontiers has mostly the same features and gameplay found in the first game, but the gameplay is so tight in this series that just playing on new maps with new monsters and a couple new features is still endlessly fun. If you were a fan of the original or want to play possibly the best game from the tower defense genre on iOS, Kingdom Rush Frontiers is the game to buy. And if Ironhide Game Studio keeps rolling out updates like the latest one, there's even more reason to keep coming back for more.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers
9.0

Kindom Rush Frontiers

Score Breakdown

Setup 10Features 9Interface 10Performance 9
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