Price: £10.20 (1200 Microsoft Points)
Format: Xbox 360 via XBLA
Developer: Signal Studios
Tower defence has become an incredibly popular genre over the last few years, in part thanks to the indie scene on PC. It is an incredibly simple premise: stop things reaching your base. It’s such an easily adaptable idea that there have been literally hundreds of different variations, perhaps the most famous being Popcap’s Plants Vs Zombies.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War is the sequel to the hugely successful Toy Soldiers, the clue is in the name. It’s a tower defence title — although you’d be forgiven for forgetting that at times — which offers the unique opportunity to actually control your defensive units. So, for example, when the evil, plastic Red Army marches towards your toy box (the tower you must defend), you can hop into your fixed-position machine gun and shoot faster and more accurately than if you left it to its own devices.
Each level consists of several waves of enemies. You must set up your units in pre-ordained areas of the map, with everything from flame throwers to artillery at your disposal, and defeat each consecutive wave; with an increase in difficulty as a reward for killing everybody in a group.
The single player campaign is fairly short, but with plenty of awards to unlock you’re bound to go back. The story, in so much as there is a story, gives a “what if?” scenario, showing us what may have happened if things had escalated to combat during the Cold War. The twist, of course, is that the entire war takes place in worlds created around toys, in bedrooms and gardens. This adds the brilliant effect of each level being part of a bigger universe – taking to an aeroplane and reading the posters on a wall while the battle rages on below you never gets old.
Cold War doesn’t stay fresh for long, however. There is plenty to stop those who fall in love with the gameplay offered from getting bored, challenge modes and survival modes on top of the story. But there isn’t a huge amount of variety in the gameplay itself. Chances are you’ll find yourself using similar tactics within each level, destroying the easier waves without even trying. You get to a point, long before you’ve reached the end of the game, that you feel you’ve seen everything you’re going to see.
If it catches your imagination, Toy Soldiers: Cold War will be a game that you’ll find impossible to put down. It’s well built, unique, has a nice sense of humour and will have you working for your achievements. However, the repetitive nature will stop many players from really getting a feel for what makes this game so special.