GAME REVIEW | The Glory of the Great War in Remastered "Toy Soldiers"
Call of Duty and Battlefield games come and go, with each one as similar as the last. Because of that, I don’t have a lot of outstanding memories of playing anything after the first Modern Warfare 2 or Battlefield 3. But I will tell you what I do remember: the first time putting on Signal Studios’s Toy Soldiers on the Xbox Live Arcade! The idea of playing as little models of famous World War I battles excited me, and the game delivered everything I could ask for in a real-time strategy title.
Now a dozen years later, and Signal Studios — alongside publisher Accelerate Games — have brought back one of the two best World War I titles from the Xbox 360. (The other, Smart Bomb Interactive’s Snoopy Flying Ace, still rests in past-gen limbo for now.) Taking place throughout 24 levels, players must set up their camps and squadrons in order to take out the enemy. You are given the opportunity to play both sides of the war, as you switch between the British and German soldiers to protect your base from being destroyed.
The main aspect of Toy Soldiers HD is the tower defense mode in its campaign. While waiting for each wave of enemies to arrive, you must set up gunners, mortars, and other bunkers to take down the soldiers from the other side. As you level up through the campaign, you are given not only upgrades to those bunkers, but also various vehicles to cause damage to the side of the enemy. You can keep an eye on the action from above for its entire run, or you can control one of the single units to have a go at taking down those that are charging into your territory.
It’s when you can take helm at one of those units where the real fun of Toy Soldiers takes hold. Whether you’re controlling a machine gun or a bomb launcher, watching from the perspective of a plastic toy brings a feeling of both excitement and — dare I say — cuteness to the overall presentation. Yes, the action is brutal, but one can’t help but giggle like a kid when watching these little toy army men be laid to waste with such brutality. But when you’re able to go outside of the units and control other things, you’ll discover a whole different level of adrenaline-pumping action.
Want to take out soldiers in a sniper tower? How about roll in a tank and blow up oncoming enemies? What about taking it to the sky and having a good ole fashion dogfight with the Red Baron? Toy Soldiers offers all of this, with nothing compromised for the sake of just having something shoe-horned in!
All of it is captured within the perspective of a kid playing with his toys. The layout of the ground is brutal and violent, but overhead you see the out-of-place wallpaper and other aspects of a boy’s bedroom. In a way, it sends a message to players: it’s better to play war than to actually go to war. And with this sort of attitude, Toy Soldiers HD delivers a campaign that’s both violent and surprisingly family-friendly.
For its HD upgrade, Signal Studios went above and beyond with its presentation. While Toy Soldiers has always looked good, the level of detail showcased in the Xbox One version is truly out of this world. Whether you are looking above and moving pieces for battle or taking down your enemies from below, every aspect of this remastering is showcased with much care and love for the hobby that this is based upon.
Control-wise, Toy Soldiers HD takes a little bit getting used to. Playing in overhead mode is relatively simple, as you click on blank areas to add your bunkers and weaponry. When you switch to third-person mode, shooting can be simple, but aiming can be a little slow. It’s when you hit the skies in the airplane when things can get a little tricky, as I found myself nearly crashing at least five times during a campaign.
Taking on the multiplayer aspect adds a different level of gameplay to the whole schtick. Not only do players have to defend their turf from one another, but they also have to do their best to destroy the other side as best as it can. This does result in a lot of multitasking needing to be done, but it’s a solid way to keep players at the edge of their seats throughout the entire round.
- Fun, on-your-toes gameplay
- Lots of great weapons and vehicles
- Visually wonderful and kind of cute
- Flying is still a little tough
- Controls take some getting used to
Nearly twelve years later, and Toy Soldiers still delivers one of the most fun & exciting real-time strategy games around. It was an ingenious idea to make a game taking place in war dioramas; but it’s another level of smarts that makes it one of the most endearing and coolest war games around. War is hell, but Toy Soldiers HD is a hell of a good time!
Promotional consideration provided by Jim Redner. Reviewed on the Xbox One.