Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Signal Studios
Mode(s): Single-player, Multiplayer
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points
Launch Date: 17th August 2011
Toy Soldiers: Cold War is the follow up to Signal Studios hit Toy Soldiers. For those who haven't played Toy Soldiers, it's similar to tower defence games mixed with historic wars in the form of toys. The strategy genre tends to be a love or hate deal, not everyone finds them enjoyable. Most sequels end up changing things that worked well in the original game, and this usually ends up spoiling what could be an interesting and fun experience. Have Signal Studios followed this pattern that many have before, or did they manage to break the trend and supply a golden game?
Game-play - 9/10
When you begin the campaign you are introduced to a tutorial on how to use a gun turret, it teaches you the controls of it, before putting you instantly into one of the games mini-games. The second stage after this is another mini-game, after learning about the rocket camera.
Then you are put into the first map, this is where you learn the rest of what you need to know, such as what each turret does, how to place them on the building spots which are already in place. The main aim of Toy Soldiers: Cold War is to protect your toy box from the invading forces, but it isn't just a case of placing a turret defence and letting it run. Once you have built the turrets you are able to take control of them, and this tends to be more effective. The A.I is skilled but taking control is more rewarding, as it ends up with waves being completed quicker, as well as earning more money.
It's also how you can build up the combo-meter, which when you hit 40, allows you to press Y. This activates special barrage abilities, chosen at random. Some examples of these abilities include air strikes, taking control of a Commando and being in control of an air strike, instead of the A.I controlled one. The Commando easily outdoes the other barrages. The Commando is a Rambo parody, and shouts Stallone quotes. This can be slightly annoying to listen to, however the attacks certainly make up for it. Armed with a machine gun in one hand, and a rocket launcher in the other, The Commando makes short work of enemy troops and at times can be the deciding factor between success and failure.
Aside from turrets and barrage abilities, Toy Soldiers: Cold War provides the ability to use a helicopter and other vehicles, most are armed with turrets and rockets, allowing you to deal with the enemies that the grounded defences are unable to due to distance or being overwhelmed. All the vehicles run on a battery supply, which is enough to last a couple of rounds before it runs out, destroying the vehicle. This is remedied by the fact that littered around the skies of the toy box battlefields are batteries which extend the life, but for vehicles like the tank it would be impossible to reach them.
For those after more than just a campaign, the game provides Versus mode. This is where players can battle it out to see who the more strategic player is. Versus mode puts two toy boxes on the map, and in the middle of the map is two spawn points. One spawns the Americans, while the other spawns the Soviet Union. The aim is to defend your own base, while trying to claim the opponents. This can be helped along by purchasing offensive bonuses, such as tanks. It is a fun mode and with two strategists facing off, could end up lasting quite a while.
Another mode is Survival. In this mode you are tasked with, yes you guessed it, surviving wave after wave of enemies. The difference between Campaign and Survival is that Survival is continuous, whereas Campaign gives you a small break in between waves to deal with repairs. This mode definitely keeps you on your toes and the occasional enemy air strikes push the difficulty up further.
Lastly there are the mini-games, which two of them are featured in the campaign as stated earlier. These mini-games are fun detours from the typical war feel that the game provides. The first four mini-games are set up like another war scene, be it on a table top or firing down from a plane. One of them is also stylised to be like the Wild West. The fifth mini-game is about how well you can control a rocket, taking it through a tunnel of moving obstacles, living up to its name of Thread the Needle. The final mini-game is about killing flies. Hit a golden fly and it causes those near it to explode.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War has fantastic game-play, and it has a fresh almost unique feel to its style and handling. All of the turrets are upgradeable causing them to be more destructive and deadly. The mixture of competitive and co-operative options for two players provides further fun to what is, even in single-player, a great game. The only fault with the game-play itself is that, as with most strategy games, it can become repetitive. Despite this the Decorations (Medals) and challenges add a lot of replay-ability to the game.
Graphics - 8/10
Each map looks and feels different, and they have different layouts. The game looks like a tower defence game based on the Cold War, which is exactly what it is. At times it is easy to forget the toy factor to this game, as the battlefields are designed to look as realistic as a toy town or field would. It looks like Signal Studios put as much care and detail into this as a collector of table-top games would into their characters and scenes. A lot of the maps can be destroyed and levelled, which can get rid of items, such as walls and trees, which block your line of sight. When you look at the sky and around the horizon, it reminds you that you are playing on a table-top, as you can see the ceiling and table lamps. However, there were some occasions where the frame rate struggled to keep up with the action, which is a shame as it's one of the few factors which hold the game back slightly.
Sound - 8/10
There isn't any background music; however you wouldn't hear it over the sound of warfare. You can hear the troops yelling as they charge headfirst into your fire. The guns sound exactly as they should do, as do the pound of the rockets and the boom of the explosions. It's almost musical in itself, and it can be very satisfying to hear a bomb land and explode, as you watch the enemies remains fly away from the blast radius. The background music is only a small issue between waves when it is silent, unless you skip the waiting period. There is music on the menu screens however, and this music can become quite catchy, to the point where someone might be reviewing the game, whilst listening to the menu music.
Achievements - 9/10
Toy Soldiers: Cold War comes with 20 achievements, totalling to 200G, as all arcade games do. Some of these are obtainable by playing through the modes normally. Some require more specific work, such as getting 22 decorations and earning 10 assists in a co-op game. Some of the achievements could prove a challenge to get, and for a strategy game that is just adding a further challenge, making it more fun. Some games award you for completing levels and challenges, but this one also challenges you to work harder and faster to obtain others, such as destroying an IFV before it unloads any units.
Cold War also comes with Avatar Awards, which are easy to earn. The Mullet and Jacket can be earned in the first level, while the Shirt will require you to survive five rounds in Survival mode, which can be an easy task if you monitor where you place your defences and their health conditions.
Conclusion - 9/10
This game is thoroughly enjoyable and it's easy to lose track of time on. The amount of mini-games, medals and challenges will keep players coming back for more, and even once all the achievements are won, players might end up replaying it anyway for the sheer enjoyment. Toy Soldiers: Cold War gets 9/10, as even with a small frame rate issue occurring once in a blue moon; it still proved an enjoyable experience. This is definitely a recommended purchase. While the price is 1200MSP, it's worth it as it proves to be better than some retail games that get released.
This review was written for Xbox Resource, and modified slightly for True Achievements. I take all my reviews seriously, and try to provide a honest opinion. If you feel the need to negative vote this review, please let me know why, so I am able to improve my writing and content standards.