Microsoft Game Studios bolsters XBLA content with a new tower defense game that lets you have more control over your units than ever - but is it worth the Microsoft Points? Read on to find out...
Opening Pandoras Toy Box
When I first saw screenshots of Toy Soldiers I was overjoyed with the idea of playing an RTS which involved controlling the same little plastic men I tortured my cat with when I was a kid. However, upon finding out the game was more a kin to a tower defense game, my cat torturing excitement started to dwindle. Its not that I don’t like playing tower defense games, its just that there have been so many released over the last few years that its hard to get excited about them.
With all that in mind, my expectations for enjoying this game were fairly low. Like any other entry in this genre the premise is simple. The enemy is going to start on one side of the field and try to get to your base on the other side (which in this case is a toy box). Your job is to methodically place various types of defenses along the path to stop them from achieving their goal. In Toy Soldiers, you’re given a large handful of plastic toy soldiers to man your plastic machine guns, sniper towers, chemical weapons, and even little plastic tanks and planes. All of the weapons are taken form the WWI era.
It's time to take control
The thing that separates discover that this game actually allows you to take control over your towers. You can jump in the drivers seat of a plane and fire bombs down on the enemy, snipe away from a high tower, or jump into one of the anti-infantry turret and blast away, if you feel like the A.I. isn’t doing a reasonable job. This is not only a ton of fun, but its also essential to victory, especially on the higher difficulties. However, my major gripe with this game lies on this point. The Allied A.I. in this game is absolutely useless. As I was manning on turret, I could see the turret beside me casually taking its time, picking off guys here and there, but overall doing a terrible job. I can understand making them 70-80% efficient to make having to take control a big part of the game, but the A.I. should at least help you out.
This became increasingly frustrating on one the early levels when fighting the end of level boss. I set up long range cannons and upgraded them all to make sure they would be able to easily mow the boss down. I took control of on the cannons and things started out fairly well. However, as soon as the boss started to get close to the inner limit of the cannons range, I was the only one still firing. I quickly switched over to one of the other cannons to check out what was going on, and discovered it still had a perfect shot at the boss. This guy was huge, so even though the cannon would normally fire past something in that range, the path of the projectile would still hit the boss. I am sure this is something that can be patched easily, but it certainly made me want to melt down my whole plastic army and turn it into a shiv to stab myself with. There’s 12 levels in the game, but getting a general rank on every level will take you some time, especially on the highest difficulty.
Toy Soldiers also features some pretty solid multiplayer. Both you and your opponent try to storm the others toy box, while also defending your own. I had a bit of trouble finding opponents at certain hours of the day, but for the most part it was a quick and fun process.
Who knew plastic could look this good?
The graphics in this game are great for an XBLA game, and does well to give you the sense of being on the battlefield with some of your favourite childhood toys. The sound is also spot on - the sound effects also sounded incredibly realistic (even though this is a game about toys) and the score really pulls you in to each battle.
Toy Soldiers is a great entry in the 'Tower Defense' genre. Any fan of TD games will love being able to take control over so many units during one game. Other than a really infuriating A.I. issue, this game is really well put together and polished, and will give any strategy fan hours of entertainment. It's not the best tower defense game I have ever played, but it certainly rises above the mediocre status that I would attach to most games in the genre.
Reviewed by Mike Baggley | 03.25.10
- Great graphics and presentation
- Stellar Sound
- An interesting take on tower defense
- Fun multiplayer
- Wacky AI
- A little too repetitive
- Tower Defense genre as a whole is starting to wear a little thin
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