Toy Soldiers: Cold War – Review

Platform | Release Date
X360 | August 17th, 2011
Developed by Signal Studios
Published by Signal Studios

The Pitch:

The Cold War ignites when ’80s era action toys come alive and wage war! Toy Soldiers: Cold War delivers hours of intense combat combined with addictive action strategy gameplay.

Superpowers collide in this playful homage to ’80s action toys and films. Command the powerful Cold War arsenals of the USA or USSR armies! Control base turrets, modern combat vehicles, fighter jets, attack helicopters, and commando action figures. Whether lighting up the Toy Box alone or jumping into the fray with your friends, battle in campaign, co-op, or competitive modes. Fight for the high score in the addictive mini-games, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to BLOW EVERYTHING UP!

 

As the days grow shorter and the Summer of Arcade begins to wind down, many of us have started to save our pennies for the onslaught of games this holiday season. However, before you put your Microsoft points away for good, you need to download one more great XBLA game – Toy Soldiers: Cold War.

For those who didn’t play the first iteration, Toy Soldiers is very similar to a tower defense game with the added bonus of being able to take over any unit on the unique game board. The look of the game is nostalgic, reminding those of us who are children of the 80s what it was like to set up armies of green soldiers across our orange shag carpet while Farah Fawcett looked down with approval from her posted place on the ceiling above the bed. The “room” surrounding the game board is similar. Cassette players blast 80’s sounding music and Keytars sit on the table, ready to be played.

The reason I’m focusing on the game’s look and feel is because it is such an integral part of the play experience. Rambo-like characters serve as one option of a barrage of awards that give players a limited amount of extra power to get past those tough spots in the game. In addition, the Russian antagonists give the game atmosphere a Red Dawn vibe. I’m not talking about this namby pamby 2012 remake either. I’m talking about old school, Russians are invading Alaska in 1984 and Patrick Swayze is going to kick their ass all the way back to Moscow.

In addition to taking over stationary units, you will also have tank, helicopter and jet options that allow for a great deal more mobility than your standard tower defense experience. Taking a helicopter up in the air can change the direction of the battle in seconds. However, remember that like any great 80s toy you are limited by battery life and unless you periodically land and and recharge, you will come crashing to the ground.

On normal, the single player mode will be a quick 3-4 hour experience. However, difficulty increases pretty quickly on General and Elite and offers a well-needed challenge. Toy Solider: Cold War provides a rewind option after each wave. I didn’t need it on normal but it came in handy during more difficult levels. While single player is sufficient, real enjoyment comes from the co-op mode. Any level can be played through either online or split-screen co-op. My son and I played through most of the levels on co-op and had one of the better split-screen experiences we have had in any Xbox 360 game. Even our head to head experience was fun although somewhat slow-going in the beginning, similar to other RTS-like experiences.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War increases the potential for additional playing time by adding a survival mode, which is fun but can wear out its welcome after mowing down several waves of plastic enemy soldiers. There are also mini games that test your skill at everything from creating multiplier kills, mowing down the enemy from a gunship or even shooting giant flies out of the air. The countdown timer on each challenge is short enough and your friend’s scores are glaring enough, that the potential for, “just one more time” attempts turning into 2 hours of try after try is very real.

There are a few minor issues. For instance, some of the maps can be disorienting and difficult to maneuver through on the first play-through. Split-screen only adds to the confusion. You can click the right thumb-stick to get a top down view of the action but it rarely helped to get a sense of the terrain, especially on levels that allow a player to push deep into enemy country to set up units. Finally, during some waves it was difficult to see where the smaller units were spawning even though red arrows seemed to point out their location. Neither of these issues took away from the fun, challenge and ultimate satisfaction as my son and I moved through the levels.

The First Toy Soldiers was a great experience and Signal Studios could have easily skated by with the same modes and an updated art style and environment. Heck, bigger games have done just that and were well received by critics and gamers alike. Instead, we have been given an improved experience with several new options and challenges that will keep the players in my house coming back time and again.

The only other thing I can add is, WOLVERINES! And if that means nothing to you then get off my lawn you ninnies.

About Todd Fuller

Todd Fuller is a staff writer for Splitkick and co-host of the Rocket Jump podcast.
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