Some members of our community, those with slightly longer memories than they might care to admit, will remember a brilliant little RTS title from the 16-bit era by developer Sensible, a title called Cannon Fodder
. Tiny Troopers Joint Ops
is the spiritual successor to the classic game, mixing RTS warfare with cute cartoon-like characters and a quirky sense of fun. Having started on mobile platforms and now venturing onto just about every other platform, Tiny Troopers
finally brings its miniature military might storming onto the Xbox One. Will it be shock and awe, or time to beat a hasty retreat?
The premise of the game is rather straightforward. There is a war being fought in an unspecified region and your tiny diminutive troopers are dispatched on a number of missions behind enemy lines. There is a story that is told between the various sections of a game via an animated storyboard and some dialogue. To be honest, though, once the shooting starts then the story seems of secondary concern.
As the soldiers fight their way through the campaigns, they gain experience and earn command points to level up weapons and skills. Of course, there are casualties in war, and it's possible that even your most senior and veteran warriors will fall in battle. If you have collected enough medals throughout the various levels then you can revive a fallen comrade; if not then your soldier is no more. With each trooper being individually named, losing a comrade is meant to feel more personal, tugging at the heart strings. Unfortunately, in the heat of battle when your soldiers are clustered together, it is often difficult to tell who is who.
Whilst the mobile versions of the title were based on touchscreens, the console version has been turned into a twin-stick shooter and the transition works well. Trooper movement is controlled by the left stick and shooting via the right. There are a few additional weapons, such as rocket launchers, grenades and airstrikes, that can be found scattered around the levels, or can be purchased using earned command points. Command points can also be earned by searching for the different collectibles, dog tags and quotes that are scattered around the various locales.
The game plays out over two independent campaigns, each containing a number of different chapters and different levels, meaning there are nearly 60 levels to play through. Fans of the mobile version may recognise the maps as the content comes from the original two mobile games. The environments vary between jungle, tundra, rocks, and snow but the missions remain ostensibly the same throughout -- destroy buildings or vehicles, rescue hostages, escort journalists, survive attack waves or assassinate a high-ranking enemy. However, staying close to its mobile heritage is a blessing and a curse. The levels are identical to the smaller mobile versions, which means that they can be played through in 5-10 minutes. In moving to a larger and more powerful platform, it feels like a missed opportunity to improve and extend the maps, and perhaps to even add more content.
Similarly there is a feeling that the graphics could have been sharpened up for the console, but they still remain consistent with the earlier versions of the game. The environments are colorful and detailed enough and it's easy to see your troops as they comically waddle into battle. The soldiers are cartoon-like and look similar to characters from South Park
, so much so that you'd almost expect one wearing shades to command you to respect his "authoritah". In reality, your troopers aren't quite so talkative, but there's a few nice audio touches and the sound is sufficient for this type of game.
Additional gameplay can be found in the almost compulsory Zombie mode that has been included. The player starts with a single character and fights their way through waves of increasingly tough zombies, including tanks and those of the spitting variety. To balance the odds a little, you'll have a chance to recruit another trooper to your party to help with the undead survival as long as you survive for long enough. There's even an on-rails variation where the player mans a machine on a self-driving vehicle and attempts to keep the vehicle intact by shooting repair packs that are dotted amongst the zombie horde. In the separate XombieOne mode, scores are posted to leaderboards so that those with a competitive streak can rate their performance against the rest of the community.
There is plenty of combat and gameplay to be found in the game but the amount of variation seems a little lacking. You can change strategies and buy additional specialist squad members for single missions, but essentially it does feel a little repetitive at times. You can adjust the difficulty of each individual mission, which allows you to select the level of challenge to suit the player, but even with the most difficult settings the enemy AI will not be much of a challenge to you. All of this brings into question the replayability factor of the game. Whilst it is fun in short bursts, is it really something to which you will return after completing all of the achievements in the game?
In that respect, achievement hunters will be fairly happy with the title. With there being 1000 GS spread over only 13 achievements, there are some pretty hefty scores to be had. Completing each of the campaigns will take some time, though, given that there are just under 60 levels to complete, representing about seven to ten hours of gameplay.
SummaryTiny Troopers Joint Ops
is an easy to pick up, fun little twin stick shooter and it's hard to criticize the title or find any particular fault with the game. It's a faithful reproduction of the two mobile games and offers plenty of levels to play. In small doses, it is indeed very playable and, as a distraction and diversion, it's great fun and the closest that you'll get to the classic Cannon Fodder
on any modern console. For that alone it has to be commended. However, there is a feeling that by sticking so closely to the mobile roots of the game, the developers have somewhat confined and restricted the title in some way. It's good to have the franchise finally on the Xbox One and I'm quietly hoping for more in the future.
- Fun little game with quirky and cute troopers
- All the content of the original two games in one package
- Playable in bite size chunks
- No freemium content
- Relatively easy achievement list
- Little new content
- There are better and more challenging twin stick shooters available
- May not have that replayability factor
The reviewer spent around 10 hours playing through the two campaigns and slaughtering zombie chickens. 8 of the 13 achievements were unlocked whilst only suffering minor casualties and collateral damage. An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.