Explosions, Battles, and Plastic Figurines (Toy Soldiers: Cold War)
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Disclaimer: As a Canadian playing this game, I feel there is a certain lack of customizability in patriotic themes. The absence of hockey stick infantry and maple leaves may colour (no, that isn’t a spelling mistake) and distort this review. Readers have been forewarned.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a sophisticated type of tower defense game where you defend your toy box from the invading synthetic USSR forces. Each map contains emplacements for unit building, where you’ll have to decide how best to arrange your forces, choosing the right combination of unit types to be the most effective against the different types of enemies that come in waves. What makes this game and its predecessor different from most tower defense games is the ability to take control of individual units, bringing a more engaging and fast-paced action experience; this is a key strategy to victory (and the only option on the highest difficulty).
As with most tower defense games, each type of emplacement specializes in fending off a specific type of foe. Every building can be upgraded twice (though in Campaign Mode, different upgrade levels are unlocked the further you progress). When taking control of improved units, you’ll notice enhancements such as sight scopes (the ability to zoom in on targets) and missile cameras (you are one with the missile, flying it through an onboard camera; very Zen). The ability to fly missiles becomes extremely useful, especially for the Anti-Tank emplacement as it allows you to target air units. When taking direct control of a unit, successful hits will be rewarded with score boosters as well as special attacks. Special attacks are anything from a temporary silicone Rambo who can shred through ground troops to aerial strikes and tactical nukes.
Battlefields in the game are a nice touch. Since the whole premise of the game is toy soldiers battling for supremacy, the graphics show a contrast of toy frontlines meets the real-world. Combat zones are set up on a floor or a table, with each setting resembling a location from around the world such as Paris, Mount Rushmore, or a desert in Egypt. Yet amidst the war grounds and geographical landmarks, you’ll also find household clutter like pencils, paper, and5.5 inchfloppy diskettes tossed around.
Multiplayer comes in two flavors, Versus and Co-op Survival, both of which can be played online or locally in split screen. Versus is an interesting mode to play, as you not only have to spend money on building your defenses but also on sending offensive units against your opponent. Co-op Survival will have both you and a friend playing on the same team, trying to fend off the computer as it sends wave after wave until it has completely overrun your toy box. Expect to be grinding at Co-Op for a while though; 1 player alone can manage at minimum the first 20 minutes or so without any real effort.
Although I very much enjoyed the game, there are a few things that hold it back from being great. Campaign Mode on normal difficulty is only about 5-6 hours from start to finish. However, going back to complete levels again on harder difficulties or collecting all the service medals for each level will of course extend gameplay for the completionists out there. Another issue is that the camera is very limited in how it’s positioned, and getting a full view of the battlefield is not possible. This made it difficult to see all of my emplacements at the same time or enemy progress at a glance. Also, at some points, I found that when flying the jet around I flew through structures, which didn’t result in a collision but instead the screen went momentarily black until I flew out the other side of the model. However, this last will not likely affect better pilots who are actually capable of avoiding collisions.
Toy Solders: Cold War is an entertaining tower defense game that can be turned into an action game for those who want more than just a plain old strategy. Overall, I give the game a 4.0/5.0 for being fun but short lived and with some minor gameplay issues. It’s worth a look at, especially if you enjoyed the original and are looking for more. Additionally, as further incentive, this title is part of the Summer of Arcade, and picking up all 5 titles will net a free download code for Crimson Alliance when it’s released in early September.
About This Post