Review: Toy Soldiers: Cold War


Toy Soldiers stormed Xbox LIVE last year and featured a small twist to the standard tower defense style of gameplay – manual control of specific towers. While all turrets will take action without your assistance you could also take manual control over any of the towers at any time and change the game to a shooter instead. The action continued in Toy Soldiers: Cold War, but it’s much more intense this time around.

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Win a free copy of Toy Soldiers: Cold War! Visit this link for details.

Although the ‘Cold War’ wasn’t exactly an action-packed war, the game definitely is from start to finish. Most of the weapons from the original game have returned but they pack an even bigger punch plus there are even some new toys to play with.   Enemies have changed to reflect the era and you’ll encounter the infamous SCUD missile mobile launchers as well as various aircraft and heavily-armored personnel carriers. In a nutshell, Toy Soldiers: Cold War offers everything the original did plus a lot more.

The game has been tweaked through a variety of changes and things feel similar to the original, but you will notice some differences. First off, the maps are much smaller which is great because it keeps players centralized in the action. This is a good thing because in the original Toy Soldiers I would often get turned around and found myself slightly lost for seconds at a time because the Toy Box was so far away.  Unlike the original you can’t do a quick analogue click to return to your toy box – that’s one tiny feature I sort of miss, but it’s uncommon to ever be too far away to care much about that.

Like the original you can still build towers on specified build sites and upgrade them up to Level 3, and in co-op both you and your partner can build, sell, upgrade, or repair each others towers. New features include a sort of ‘killstreak’-inspired extra known as a ‘barrage’.  You can earn barrages by filling your ‘turbocharge’ meter through a lengthy combo or by killing specifically starred enemies. Barrages include an AC-130 gunship, nuclear strikes and more. Check out our gameplay montage below to see some of the action you’ll encounter in Cold War.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War – Our 80’s style destruction montage

Vehicles have a stronger focus in Cold War as well, and you’ll often be looking to them to defend against more difficult enemy waves. All vehicles run on a battery power and most levels have batteries scattered throughout if you need a recharge – be warned though as once you use these supplies they’re gone until you reload the level. Battery life isn’t too long and it drains quicker when moving around – but keeping you in a vehicle for an unlimited amount of time would take away from the difficulty of the game and throw things off-balance.

Speaking of the difficulty, Cold War is a much easier title than Toy Soldiers was last year, but there’s also a small change to the included difficulty levels. Elite difficulty allows only manual control of towers and AI won’t act out, but the new General mode is the opposite of Elite Mode where only the AI can control towers. On any difficulty you can use a great new feature called “Wavelist Rewind” that allows you to rewind back to any wave if you make a mistake. There doesn’t seem to be any downside to using it and you can use it multiple times if needed.

Anyway, the game features 11 campaign levels but unlike the original Toy Soldiers there’s no campaign+ mode to play from the Soviet perspective. Part of the reasoning behind the shortened campaign was to entice more players to actually complete the full game and take advantage of the new mini-games included. There are a small handful of mini-games that are quite entertaining to play, and even more fun to take on your friends’ scores that you’ll see displayed on the leaderboards. During loading screens and in-game you’ll see stats pop up to compare various statistics of your own to your friends. At the end  of each mission you’ll get a medal ranking, the highest being platinum – medals are awarded based on a combination of your ending toy box health, time saved by advancing waves early, and the amount of money you save.

Beyond the 6-8 hour campaign you’re going to find the return of versus mode and survival mode, plus a barrage of new mini-games. Want more? How about playing through the whole campaign in two player LIVE co-op? Yes, you can… and it works with almost no lag aside from a few spotty moments here and there. Cold War also has 20 achievements for you to earn and if you’re good enough you can also find a hidden Golden Arcade in each level – earning them all rewards you with bragging rights and a hidden war decoration. Each level had two war decorations to earn as well – basically a replacement and upgrade to the ration tickets from the original game.

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There is so much inspiration and homage paid to the 1980’s in this game that I really, really loved. You’ll see references and inspiration from movies such as Top Gun, RAMBO, and Rocky… and possible even a small poke at Castlevania II: Simon’s Curse when you read the text “What a horrible night to hide from CAS…” Either way the themes in this game are going to reach out to many of you older players, especially if you loved the 80’s.

Maybe it had something to do with leaving WWI behind, but one thing I loved about the Cold War was the vibrant, colorful worlds offered in Cold War. It just seems to be a much brighter game than the first and although you have some really great nighttime missions, many of the maps were daylight and had you surrounded by various structures and even tropical island vegetation. Visuals were definitely enhanced for Cold War by adding in more detail to firepower and vehicular damage too. You can slowly rip apart tanks and aircraft and see them in varied states of damage. Enhanced textures and the generally brighter design are surely a very welcome improvement to Cold War.

Another huge part of the quality presentation in Cold War is thanks to the 80’s themed soundtrack which features some truly awesome audio tracks. The main theme is lightly inspired by the Top Gun anthem while other intro themes to the levels mimic Europe’s hit, “The Final Countdown”. When you launch barrages you’ll also have specific themes to coincide with those attacks…when you hear them start up you’ll know it’s time to kick the tires and light the fires.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War is truly fantastic and if you even remotely enjoyed the previous title from Signal Studios then you need to check this out. It’s catered to a wider audience with decreased difficulty levels (unless you choose to play higher ranks) and it takes everything that made the first game fun and it improves upon it. More action, more enemies, and more weaponry make it an extremely fun title to play – in fact I’ve spent over 35 hours in a mix of solo and co-operative modes over the past two weeks. Not to mention, Signal Studios is known to offer DLC so it’s quite unlikely that the fun stops here.

New enemies and weaponry have increased the action as well as the new barrages, but it'd be nice to have more barrage options as there's only a few. LIVE play does have the occasional moment of lag, but it's usually fine.
Vibrant level design with a variety of styles throughout the campaign. Night vision and upgraded artillery makes for some nice eye candy too!
The 80's - 'nuff said! Seriously though, the synthesizer type tunes and RAMBO screams never get old and it really bumps of the presentation value of the game.
9.5Final Score

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