Published on August 15th, 2011 | by Ken Yarbrough, Editor1
Toy Soldiers: Cold War Review
Full Disclosure: I never played the original Toy Soldiers, and after the first mission of Cold War, I thought I wouldn’t be playing this one very long.
Part of that is because I had no real idea of what Toy Soldiers: Cold War really was. Is it a third-person shooter? RTS? Well, it’s both of those, and a little more. At it’s heart, Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a tower defense game. Generally speaking, I don’t enjoy tower defense games very much. What sets Cold War apart, however, is in it’s implementation of third-person action sequences.
The campaign will take you through a number of stages where you are asked to defend your toybox. You do so by building structures on predetermined pads. These structures range from anti-infantry machine gun turrets, all the way up to wave-clearing artillery stations. Each pad can be upgraded (eventually) twice, to a maximum level of three. The strategic goal is to determine which structures are best for the situation. The game will throw waves of toy soldiers at you: infantry, tanks, helis, and jets. As mentioned above, there are anti-infantry turrets, anti-vehicle cannons, and even anti-air launchers to deal with that pesky air force. There are even a few specialty stations you can build: A flamethrower type device, and a mortar, though I never found much use for them during the campaign.
In many cases, you will find yourself selling off old structures to build more practical structures for the situation.
The twist in the game is that at any point, you can man any of these structures yourself. Placing yourself in control seems to yield far better results than letting the AI control your defenses. While you can only control one device at a time, you can easily and quickly switch between them.
Most of the campaign maps also feature a remote controlled tank, helicopter, or jet that you can also control. You simply have to maintain your battery life to use them effectively. When they are destroyed, or run out of juice, they respawn on their respective pads, and you must wait for them to recharge their batteries before using them again.
Finally, the game also grants you special powers in the form of Barrages that are earned when your kill streak gets high enough. Activating these barrages can mean turning the tide of battle. Some of them include sending down a giant Rambo-esque action figure that you can control, that eats through infantry and vehicles alike, and even a Nuclear launch in the later stages. All of these barrages are extremely powerful, and can wipe out entire waves by themselves.
Graphically the game looks as you would expect it to. That is to say, it is neither amazing, nor bad. The soldiers look plastic-y for the most part, and the explosions are nice to look at as well.
The music is sufficiently “patriotic” and war-like. Most of the game I was unable to really focus on the music, as the sound effects of plastic soldiers melting and tanks being exploded drowned it out. That’s a good thing though, as any game of this ilk should focus on the sound effects anyway.
Controls were fine, for the most part. In some situations, I found the camera didn’t help me out too much, but this was a rare occurrence. The only real complaint I had with the controls was in the piloting of the jet. It was VERY difficult to use the bombing run mechanic of the jet due to the wonky camera. Some of the structures suffered from this control issue as well, but it seemed to really only interfere with the mortar cannons, which as I mentioned earlier, I found no use for.
All-in-all Toy Soldiers: Cold War is yet another enjoyable experience for Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade. The campaign will take you anywhere from 3-5 hours to finish, depending on your proficiency, though there are plenty of medals and commendations that will keep you coming back to earn better scores. At 1200 MSP, I still find the title to be a little on the pricey side, but that’s what I’ve said all summer long about each of the titles. Microsoft has really got some blockbuster Arcade titles on it’s hands this year, and Cold War simply adds to the success.
Unfortunately, as this was played prior to the official release date, I was unable to get into any co-op or versus matches. If there are any glaring issues with either after launch, I will be sure to update this review. Otherwise, this review will stand.