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Foursaken Media barely misses a beat on Bug Heroes 2. It takes 2011’s hit tower defense/dual-stick shooter/real-time strategy hybrid and pumps out a cool, fun, great-looking, and fast-paced sequel that ups the ante on just about everything (but sadly marginalizes the story of feuding bugs). Strategic nuances mix brilliantly here with arcade-style action, and the mission, skirmish, and endless modes alike all offer plenty of variety in the flow of play — though not in terms of scenery, as only three maps are included.
You’ll form a team of two from a pool of up to 25 heroes, and take full control over the bug in the lead role, while the secondary insect either follows the lead around or guards a specific area that you assign with a tap on the screen. You can swap between them at any time, though, and indeed there are loads of possible strategies for getting the most from of your preferred combination of ranged, melee, large, and small heroes. Typically, you’ll have three basic goals: find food and parts to take to your base, defend your base, and attack and destroy the enemies — although sometimes only the latter applies. Missions pile a high-level goal or two on top of this, such as to survive a certain amount of time or kill x bugs of a particular type, with your reward for completion being stars that unlock upgrades.
There are separate, intertwined leveling systems within and between battles, which, while overly complicated, actually balance well. Heroes have skills and equipment that must be improved from scratch in every battle and skirmish, plus others that are more permanent. Bug Heroes 2 offsets its depth with a freemium-style system that makes upgrades and unlocks take exponentially longer to achieve each time, but none of the three single-player modes nor the multiplayer battles — which are online or local, and co-op or versus — ever feel like grinding. Rather, it’s a test of your mettle in a more accessible and streamlined take on popular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) computer games like League of Legends and Dota 2.
The bottom line. Bug Heroes 2 builds on the fine foundation of its predecessor to assemble a strong and varied MOBA-style game, which only stumbles on a few minor points.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Every hero has a distinct feel, look, and skill set. Deep strategy that’s easy to learn. Dozens of enemy types. Varied gameplay.
Takes way too long to gain enough stars and diamonds for upgrades and character unlocks. Can’t choose which characters you unlock. Doesn’t continue story from the original. Only three maps. Frame rate drops on multiplayer matches.