Friday, March 5, 2010

Toy Soldiers (review)

Fine and dandy ol' chap!
Similar to the Xbox Live's Summer of Arcade program where a block of high profile Xbox Live Arcade games are released next to each other, the Spring season of 2010 has the Block Party containing such pieces as Perfect Dark and the tower-defense style game Toy Soldiers. Despite not being a fan of that genre, I gave Toy Soldiers a chance and in return was a really fun hybrid game.

Set in a World War I themed diorama containing toy soldiers and vehicles inside a bedroom, the single player campaign follows the British army defending against the attacking German forces. It plays out as more of a tower defense game where units can be built to prevent a set number or a boss entering and destroying the base (aka the toy box).

With the construction of defending machine guns, howitzers, and gas units, the said units along with tanks and helicopters can be fully controlled to help turn the tide in battle. That said, it comes with a price as it can increase the odds of loosing (especially during boss fights) if not treated with moderation; and it plays very well with that mentality.

The artificial intelligence and the order of attacking Germans were intimidating which forced me to make quick decisions of either constructing a particular unit or controlling an existing one. The boss fights not being dynamic in actions provide a sense of struggle because one bad move can ruin the match. If the boss destroyed, I felt relieved as well as invigorated of how I completed something that looked impossible.

Multiplayer follows the same basic fashion but give the possibility of attacking a base. With two players max on splitscreen and Xbox Live, both players have to defend and create attack plans which can be stressful but really fun.

Although being figurines, all of the working units look like a shrunken version of their real counterparts. With that and how the camera uses a macro-like focus, it reminded me of when I played small figurines when I was younger but much more visceral (although cartoon-like). To compliment the classic visual style is a snappy classic-style soundtrack which made me feel very dandy if I lost my base.

This is the closest game to commanding an army without feeling like some disembodied higher being. The charm it carries greatly benefit the overall experience. Coming from a very small studio, I am impressed at what Signal Studios done and is looking forward to the game's downloadable content and any future products.


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