Toy soldiers on the march

TOY SOLDIERS: COLD WAR RRP: $ 19.80 ( Xbox 360)

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Tech - MIKE WIL­COX mike@ hy­per­ac­tiveg­ames. com

PLAY­ING in the back yard on a grassy bat­tle­field full of plas­tic toy soldiers may not be the pop­u­lar pas­time it once was, but that hasn’t stopped Sig­nal Stu­dios rein­vent­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence as a video game se­ries.

Fol­low­ing the de­but game last year, which was based on World War I, this suc­ces­sor,

Cold War, draws in­spi­ra­tion from the 1980s, as mil­i­tary ten­sions rise be­tween the US and Rus­sia. In ad­di­tion to all the ‘ 80s mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy, the minia­turised en­vi­ron­ments are also lit­tered with para­pher­na­lia of the era, such as Ru­bik’s Cubes and VHS tapes.

For those un­fa­mil­iar with tower de­fence games, the main aim is to build, and then man­age, weapon nests placed at strate­gic lo­ca­tions on a map, and then wait for wave upon wave of op­po­nents to try to break through your de­fences, and in this game’s case, even­tu­ally de­stroy your toy box.

While this all takes place from a bird’s eye view, the Toy Soldiers games also let you get down close to the ac­tion and take man­ual con­trol of mil­i­tary posts rather than leav­ing the fire­fights to take place au­to­mat­i­cally. This is also en­cour­aged as you can earn power-ups called Bar­rages this way, which give you ac­cess to ex­tra-pow­er­ful weapons.

A high­light of these is gain­ing brief con­trol of a Rambo char­ac­ter bear­ing an un­canny re­sem­blance to Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger.

Tur­rets are the main de­fence against en­e­mies and up­grad­ing these has seen a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment this time, pro­vid­ing them with new func­tions. Some mis­sions also see you con­trol­ling minia­ture toy ve­hi­cles such as tanks, he­li­copters and fighter jets. These, of course, are bat­tery-pow­ered and re­quire recharg­ing, other­wise they ex­plode.

With a de­cent strat­egy, most of the main cam­paign’s mis­sions aren’t overly tough, but in case you do be­come over­whelmed by en­emy forces, you can use the game’s rewind fea­ture to go back to try a dif­fer­ent strat­egy.

There are only a few hours of fresh game­play in the main cam­paign, so thank­fully additional mul­ti­player and co-op­er­a­tive modes are in­cluded for lo­cal and online matches. There are some cam­era-an­gle is­sues to con­tend with and, for all but diehard fans of this genre, the ac­tion can feel rep­e­ti­tious, how­ever, the game’s child­ish charm is de­light­fully ex­e­cuted and for the price, you’ll get your money’s worth in the first sit­ting.

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