Also On: Xbox One
Developer: Signal Studios
Having never played the original Toy Soldiers on Xbox 360, I had no idea what to expect with this new offering. All I knew is it was a tower defense game and I usually stay away from those. Let’s face it, most games like this are boring and really offer no gameplay outside of placing guns somewhere and watching carnage. Toy Soldiers: War Chest is, at its core, a traditional defense game but with a little extra flair that keeps you playing for hours. Something that most games like this cannot do!
For starters, the fact that this is called Toy Soldiers is no coincidence, as you are actually using toys as your army against other toy armies. What makes this unique is that instead of just placing turrets and traps on a battlefield and hope your firepower is enough to withstand an attack, you actually get to take control of any one of your guns at any time during play, so you aren’t just sitting back and clicking on icons. Jumping back and forth between guns to gain an advantage against invading armies keeps you on your toes and more importantly, keeps the player in the action. Sometimes special vehicles become available to you to directly attack the enemy bases. These do not last very long, but can help you gain more access points to place more guns on the battlefield.
As you take down enemies, you build up a meter that allows you to control your army’s “Hero” Character on the actual battlefield and deal some serious damage to the invading armies. In War Chest, the main draw are these Hero Characters which can be based on actual toy lines or other Ubisoft games. My particular hero of choice has to be He-Man, since he and the Eternia army resemble the classic look of the action figures from the 1980s. G.I. Joe and their nemesis Cobra, along with a line based on Assassin’s Creed are also available in the Hall of Fame disc release, download or as separate DLC. There is something completely satisfying having a massive battle with He-Man vs. G.I. Joe, and that’s where the fun is in War Chest. The inclusion of these characters with the already included selectable armies, mixed with the interactive controls, really add fun and charm to what would otherwise be a simple tower defense title.
After you get tired taking on the CPU in the Campaign, hop online in multiplayer and go head to head with a friend to see which toy box wins. Co-op mode allows two players to team up and play through any map against the enemy either online or off (via split screen), and 2 vs. 2 multiplayer allows up to four friends to form two teams and take turns defending their toy box while preparing their next wave of offensive attacks. Sometimes, placing and moving turrets can be a bit tedious, with the constant selling and buying new weapons to compensate for the attack wave coming. Sometimes, you may need an anti-air gun and not have enough space on the field, which means you have to sell guns to get money and open spaces. You’ll be doing this a lot in the later levels, sometimes even during an attack wave to try to regain some control. The available vehicles, such as tanks and even falcons, take a bit too long to re-spawn after use, causing most players to forget they are even there during battle. When you finally remember you had them ready, it’s too late to use them. Some kind of an alert (like when you are alerted that a Hero Character is available) would have been helpful here.
Control in Toy Soldiers: War Chest could not be simpler. You begin by using a cursor around a map and placing turrets on platforms. Large platforms are for more heavy fire guns like anti-aircraft guns, while smaller ones give you ground defense. You are given enough money at the beginning to place one turret and as you make kills on the battlefield, you score more cash to occupy the other spots on the map. The best way to earn money is to control your turrets and make the kills yourself, as sitting back and watching will not net you a payday. Another advantage to controlling the turrets yourself is building up a Hero Meter so you can control your Army’s Hero as stated before. With the Hero under your control you can move anywhere on the battlefield for a limited time and take on the invading hoards or take out armored attack vehicles. You can increase your time as the Hero by collecting the random batteries littered around the area. You can sometimes change the balance of a losing battle the longer you are in control of the Hero, so grab as many batteries as you can and attack! For those who simply want to place turrets and watch the battle unfold in a strategic manner, you can play that way as well, but you won’t make much money so it takes longer to place more guns, and you are missing half the fun of this title.
The visuals really hook you in to the environment, with everything resembling a living world made of toys. Toy boxes, pencils and even cigars are used as barriers between sides of the battlefield. It is touches like this that really show that the developers wanted to really make this experience feel authentic. The look and animation of the figures remind you of the days when all we had was a box of toys and our imagination to play way an afternoon. Sound and music are fantastic, with explosions and gun fire surrounding you as you play. Some of the voices of the licensed toy lines are strange, with corny dialog that doesn’t seem to fit, but it’s good for a chuckle or two. I was disappointed that He-Man didn’t shout “By The Power Of Grayskull” at any time, but at least Cobra and G.I. Joe yell their signature catchphrases phrases while fighting. It’s amazing once you see everything brought together. I was a little disappointed with some of the loading times as they seems a bit too long, and there are some random frame drops here and there, but overall the presentation is solid.
If you are a fan of tower defense games, than getting Toy Soldiers: War Chest is an absolute no brainer. It’s fun, fast and very entertaining even to watch. If you are not into these type of games typically (like myself), this actually may be the game that gets you hooked as it’s not as boring and un-involved as most other tower defense titles. The interactivity and flow of the game make it so much more fun to play than you typical defense game that even non fans will find something to like here. The complete package will not strain your wallet either, at only $14.99 (or $29.99 for the Hall of Fame Edition with the licensed Heroes and extra content) this is a great buy for your PS4 and/or Xbox One library!