I guess, as a child, I never really played with toy soldiers in the structured form of organised battles, and even more rare was to set them up on a tabletop. Nope. My toy soldiers were subjected to a life in the trenches between Dad’s potatoes in our vegetable garden. Action took the form of Poha’s and Tom Thumb’s being lobbed at them or even wedged between their legs! Then the slug gun and fire got involved… Well RIP my little plastic soldiers. Toy Soldiers on XBLA follows the less destructive method of tabletop war gaming in the form of a tower defence game.
I hadn’t been following the production of Toy Soldiers so was pleasantly surprised when it appeared on XBLA. It looked like something I would enjoy and coupled with the eagerness of certain forum members for it, I found myself pretty keen to give it a crack. World War I isn’t as popular with game developers as other conflicts so there is something quite rewarding, if a little immoral, about frying charging cavalry with a massive flame thrower or choking infantry with mustard gas. Don’t fret, they are only toys after all. Toys that are beautifully replicated in 3D making you want to zoom in just to check out each new unit. Even the wind up key on the tanks are there. The sound effects and music add to the overall enjoyment with some nice little period tunes and suitable sound effects.
The game itself is played out as a tower defence game with you having to defend your Toy Box from the various enemy units. You can only place your units on the predefined mounts, which come in two sizes, smaller ones will only accept small units like machine guns and mortars while the larger mounts will accept AA guns and artillery along with any of the small units. Once placed units will engage the enemy on their own or you can jump in and take charge of any unit from a third person perspective. This is vital to achieve many of the awards within the game. Airplanes and tanks are the exception to this gameplay, these units will only function with you in control and have free reign over the game table. Money is earned with the destruction of each enemy unit allowing you to buy and upgrade more units for yourself. And you will want some mighty strong units to take on the likes of the Zeppelin and Uber Tank!
Playing through the single player Campaign, playing the British, didn’t take me very long at all but once complete you unlock the Campaign+ mode which puts you in charge of the Germans for the other side of the campaign. Completion also unlocks Survival mode where wave after wave of enemy are sent towards your toy box. Once each mission is completed, you can attempt it on the Elite difficulty where your units will only fire if you are in direct control of it. I must say even with these extra modes unlocked there isn’t a huge amount of single player content to last you very long so you would have to hope that the multiplayer remains more active and popular than most XBLA titles which tend to be impossible to find a game on within weeks of release. It’s bloody good fun though so if a few mates have grabbed Toy Soldiers then at least you can have a crack at the multiplayer when you feel like it.
Toy Soldiers is a really polished XBLA title that is immense fun. Unfortunately even with a good lot of unlockables there isn’t enough content for a single player to justify spending 1200 MS Points. The multiplayer does extend the experience but, again, as with all XBLA titles if you haven’t got friends with Toy Soldiers you maybe hard pushed to find a multiplayer game down the line. It’s hard to say if this is a worthy 1200 MS Points game, it’s a great game but I just don’t see 1200 MS Points of greatness in it. Get the trail and have a go, just remember there isn’t a huge amount to it. Maybe this will be rectified with DLC?
Released on 3/3/2010 for 1200 MS Points.