Toy soldiers on the march
TOY SOLDIERS: COLD WAR RRP: $ 19.80 ( Xbox 360)
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.