I have to admit that the first Toy Soldiers game never really caught my attention. I tried it, and I didn’t hate it, in fact I liked the concept, but the style just didn’t win me over. Something about the visuals didn’t do it for me. So when it was announced that Toy Soldiers: Cold War, a 80’s action figure themed sequel to the original would be the final game in the Summer of Arcade promotion I was intrigued. Would the updated era be enough to win me over?
In short, yes. This is a game made for pretty much anyone who was a kid in the 80’s, and I mean anyone. I am not one of these people who think 80’s music is awesome or would suggest an 80’s theme for a party; fact is I hated 80’s music and the clothes. Two things the era did right though were toys and action movies. G.I. Joe and Rambo. The concept of the game is that of a bunch of toys being played with, and if any of you ever used some VHS tapes to build a fort for your G.I. Joe’s than this game will appeal to you (Somewhere there is a kid thinking to himself, “What’s a VHS?”). The over the top 80’s era homage gives Toy Soldiers: Cold War a completely different look and style from the original game and one that I think is hands down superior.
Cold War still sports the same terrific gameplay that made the first one a success though. Taking the tower defense genre and infusing it with the up close action of a third person shooter is a blast. You’ll find yourself staying busy by upgrading your turrets and managing repairs, then the next minute you are hopping into the turret and letting loose a barrage of rockets at enemy tanks or piloting a battery powered helicopter to mow down lines of enemy troops. Other games have certainly tried to make a tower defense game with more action, such as South Park’s Let’s Go Tower Defense Play, and while many have managed to make the genre “more fun” none have come even close to doing what Toy Soldiers does.
At times the Toy Soldiers barely even feels like a tower defense game, more like a horde mode or firefight. More often than not, Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a third person shooter that occasionally reminds you that you need to prevent those troops from getting into your toy box. Each turret, and each version of its’ upgrade feels unique, as does each of the game’s vehicles. While not the most powerful, I enjoyed reaping death from an attack helicopter the most. The jet fighter is a lot of fun as well but only implemented well in one of the levels. Almost everything works like it was meant to be the primary focus of the game. I am consistently surprised when I stop to think about how Toy Soldiers is like two games in one and both of them are superbly done.
Cold War does boast several upgrades and changes from its’ predecessor. The most notable of these is probably the ability to play all of the single player missions, and survival mode, in co-op. I would even go so far as to say that one or two of the maps seemed best suited for doing just that. Additionally Cold War adds Mini-Games, which is a series of short “challenges” that you can play, and “Barrages.” Barrages are randomized in-game upgrades that can be achieved by killing select troops and include things such as an artillery strike or my favorite, the commando; a full on Rambo style action figure packing unlimited amo but a short lifespan. Included as well is Survival Mode, which has you trying to keep off a never ending attack for as long as possible and the multiplayer mode Versus returns as well. There is a lot of game here to keep you entertained.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War does try to toss in a little bit of story, but clearly this isn’t the focus (in fact the little bit of story usually went by so quickly I didn’t have time to read it all). The game doesn’t really suffer from this but the campaign does get a little bit repetitive if played continuously. It is best to mix it up with another game mode or simply spread out your gaming sessions for maximum enjoyment. The game could also be called a little too easy on normal settings. While getting gold and platinum medals on each level won’t come effortlessly, beating the levels with at least a silver medal was never too difficult. Each level has 2 “Decorations” that can be won, sort of in-game achievements for doing things like killing so many tanks with an artillery, etc. These are fun to go for and make the level a bit more challenging, but once you have them you have them and that’s it. Novices to the genre might find it a bit more daunting, you won’t be able to beat levels using only the battery powered vehicles for example, but should be able to pick it up and master it quickly.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War certainly has an addictive side to it. In fact, as I sit here writing about my experiences with the game I find myself wanting to go and play a round. The visual style is great and there are so many references to the toys one might have had in the 80’s that pretty much anyone who experienced those years will find something to smile about. The game captures two completely different genres, at the same time, and does it incredibly well, but most of all it is just plain fun to play. The main complaint to be made is that the main single player game doesn’t have a ton of depth to it and that it does get a little bit boring during a marathon session. Fortunately modes like Versus, and co-op help to lighten that. Get the game and find a friend to get it too so you have someone to play with and good times are pretty much all but guaranteed.
Final Rating: 9/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: roughly 7-8 hours
Gamer Score Earned: 460/1000
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by Signal Studios
Current Price: $15 (1200 Microsoft Points)
Recommend Purchase Price: There is a lot of game for $15, and it is damn good. Chances are you won’t regret a full price purchase.