Toy Soldiers games have been synonymous with Xbox Live since the launch of the first game in 2010. Toy Soldiers: Cold War was even featured in 2011’s Summer of Arcade. After four years, Toy Soldiers is back and this time it’s brought some friends along. Whereas in previous games there has only been two armies, this time around, four armies are included with the option of adding four more. These additional armies are the headline grabbing He-Man, GI Joe & Cobra, and Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed series.
Gameplay is the same blend of tower defense and third-person shooter as the previous games. You start each level with a few spaces where you can place a turret. With smaller emplacements you can choose to build either an anti-infantry emplacement or an anti-armour emplacement. Once you have a bit more money you can place larger weapons, these are either anti-armour or anti-air emplacements. The actual turret that is built depends on the Hero you are using. For instance, if you build a small anti-infantry turret while playing as the Kaiser, you build a machine-gun nest, whereas if you are playing as Starbright, you’ll build a bubble-gun. Similarly, if you are playing as the Kaiser and build a small anti-armour turret, you build a mortar nest, whereas if you are playing as Phantom you’ll build a laser canon. These differences aren’t just cosmetic either; the mortar turret does more damage than the laser cannon but has a shorter range. If you get enough kills without taking too much damage, you unlock the ability to send your Hero into the fight. This is where the third-person shooter mechanics come into play. You can choose where on the map your Hero is placed and then you take control of them and have a limited period of time to use them.
Graphics in the game aren’t that great. While the art style of the game lets it get away with a lot, there’s no getting around the dodgy frame-rate. The game never runs at a ‘silky smooth’ frame rate but sometimes it drops to a real shudder. It’s particularly noticeable when you are in control of one of the emplacements and you’re shooting while there are a large number of enemies on screen. When I say a large number of enemies on screen though, don’t expect Dead Rising 3 or Sunset Overdrive levels of enemies. There are probably only ever 20-30 enemies that are actually visible at one time. For a game that’s only available on Xbox One, PC and Playstation 4, this is very disappointing.
Sound in Toy Soldiers: War Chest is just as you would expect from a game based on war and conflict. There are lots of explosions and gunfire, accompanied by the usual banter between soldiers that you get in this type of game. Once again, placement in the sound field is really good, as seems to be the case with most games of the last couple of years. What is a little different though is that the explosions in the game gave my subwoofer a good work out.
Content is a little light, even though it is a lower priced game. The campaign is the same random cobbled together levels with no real story to speak of, that we got in previous games. There are 12 levels with 4 bonus levels that are a basic survival mode where you try and survive wave after wave of enemies. Multiplayer has two modes. The first is a 2v2 competitive mode where you take turns to attack and defend. The other mode is a 2 player co-operative mode that is just like the bonus survival levels of the campaign.
Toy Soldiers War Chest should have been a home run. The premise of He-Man v Assassin’s Creed and GI Joe v Cobra sells itself. The problem is that these much-publicised inclusions are not included in the game, they are paid DLC. Couple this with a game engine that has mediocre graphics and fails to keep a steady frame rate and you have a game that doesn’t live up to anywhere near its potential. There is fun to be had in this game; there just isn’t as much as there should have been.