REVIEW – Toy Soldiers: Cold War

These ain't your grandpappy's army men. Those guys were total bush league compared to these soldiers.

Alex Keenby Alex Keen

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Toy Soldiers: Cold War is the last entry in the Xbox’s Summer of Arcade 2011.  We’ve had the joy of several stellar arcade releases this summer and Toy Soldiers does a great job of continuing that tradition and closing out this year’s event.  In case you didn’t already know, Toy Soldiers: Cold War is the follow-up to successful Toy Soldiers game released early in 2010.  According to a report on 1up.com, the original Toy Soldiers was the top-selling XBLA game of 2010. With that overwhelming pressure, I am ecstatic to report that Toy Soldiers: Cold War lives up to the name and is a fantastic sequel.

Having played a lot of XBLA titles, I’ve become pretty accustomed to the graphical quality and content levels of the many titles on the system.  After starting up Toy Soldiers: Cold War, I was deeply impressed by the complexity of the game’s graphics engine and the intelligent design of the gameplay. Toy Soldiers looks and plays on par with some of the best games of XBLA and better than some of the full-price games that have seen release (I’m looking at you, comic book movie adaptations!).  If you’ve been impressed by the likes of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Monday Night Combat, and Ms. 'Splosion Man, you’ll really dig Toy Soldiers.
 
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When in comes to the gameplay of Toy Soldiers, the developers did not lock the game down to just one game-type. The title mixes first-person gameplay with strategic tower defense, resource management.  This game reminded me of Halo Wars, or what Brutal Legend could have been if Tim Schafer had spent his time on gameplay rather than storytelling.  Everything works smoothly and does so without being confusing.  Newcomers should be able to understand this game and be challenged throughout.  Plus, it is a great fit for fans of war games looking to dip their feet into the realm of strategy.

Continuing with my comparison to Brutal Legend, Toy Soldiers: Cold War has a lively sense of humor that makes fun of the trappings of plastic army men and the 1980s era global chest thumping.  I especially enjoyed playing as an exaggerated Rambo-esque character that levels the playing field with rocket launchers and machine guns.  You can tell that the developers had a ton of fun with the concept, just as Tim Schaefer explored in Brutal Legend.  If you like your combat with a dose of silliness, Toy Soldiers definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s a good thing.

 
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One of the only complaints I have with this game is the lack of true collision detection with enemy vehicles.  For example, while playing as tanks fighting off enemy forces, I could drive right through other enemy tanks without halting their progress or obviously damaging them. This is a minor complaint, but one that seems like an bizarre oversight.  For a game focused on tower defense, allowing enemy forces to pass directly through a physical threat seems like something that should have been accounted for.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a great new XBLA title and perfect for gamers looking to pick up a mostly well designed strategy-fighter.  This game has a great sense of humor and a ton of replay value.  If you’re looking for a really fun and simple game with plenty of hours of gameplay, Toy Soldier: Cold War should be near the top of your list.