Thursday, 3 May 2012

Review: Toy Soldiers (Steam Version)


Like tower defence games?  Like World War I?  Well Toy Soldiers has got both for you, in a more family friendly way.  Toy soldiers was a hugely successful XBLA game that was recieved very positively by the Xbox press, and I can see why.

Basically the game takes place in the imagination of a child playing with what would be described as the best toy soldiers game ever, if actually existed.  Playing as both the British and German forces, you build towers that are based on weapons of the great war.  Machine gun nests, mustard gas, howitzers, mortars and anti aircraft towers are available and can be upgraded into improved or more specialised versions.  Each tower is animated beautifully with little soldiers manning the guns and firing, reloading and even dying as the tower takes damage from the attacking waves.
Ready! Aim! Fire!

Other defences include fighter biplanes, bombers aircraft, tanks and sniper towers.  Controls for these are very simple and change the game from being a simple tower defence title, into a kind of horde mode game, with towers to help you.  You can also control any tower you build and fine tune your aim.  Some are easier to use than others, but when you need a specific target killed instead of leaving it to chance with the AI, its a great option.  Every few levels you will encounter a boss toy that will deploy units and do big damage to your towers.  These end of level baddies are a change of pace and a real challenge on the higher settings.  Every level also has a side objective that will unlock an item that can be viewed in a collection, they don't do anything other than give little tidbits of information, but its something else to aim for while playing.

The game is relatively short, but for only £4.99 its not bad, and has replayability with leaderboards, higher difficulty settings and a survival mode that will truly test your micromanaging skills at tower defence gameplay.  This versions comes with the two DLC packs, one adding the french in their own campaign, complete with new french soldiers for all of the allied towers.  The other DLC is more of a fun challenge mode, featuring the germans defending an allied onslaught using UFO's, WW2 Mustangs, Spacemen and clockwork robots.
Battlefields look great

The graphics are really nice for a downloadble title and is probably the most in depth I have seen from a TD game.  Soldiers and vehicles animate well, popping into springs and coils when they die, rather than gib or bleed out (since these are toys remember).  The map becomes more damaged and cratered as shells land all over and buildings get hit by explosives.  Every map looks great with a distinct look and feel.  The units and towers have a great look to them, as the developers have captured that old metal toy soldier look for them.

Unfortunately the port did not carry over the multiplayer and splitscreen elements of the Xbox version. Signal Studios have apologised for this, but have said its unlikely we will see these modes added.  Also another thing that annoyed me was the forced use of GFWL.  Something that I know can be an immediate deal breaker for some.

Sound wise the game is pretty good.  Weapons sound right, explosions are big and loud, the music has a kind of black and white movie era quality to it.  There is no dialogue to speak of, bar a few random lines from the soldiers at the beginning of each level.
The little soldiers personalities shine through when viewed up close

Overall this is a great little downloadable title, perfect for those of you with the tower defence bug and a great game for people who are new to the genre.  There is hope that Signal studios will port their more recent work, Toy Soldiers Cold war, which takes the setting to the 1980's and looks to be a massive upgrade to Toy Soldiers.

SCORE 7.8/10 - If the multiplayer had been included and GFWL been dropped for steams system, I would have given this an 8.5, but sadly these factors drag it down.  I do still recommend playing it since the game as it is plays well and still immense fun.

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