Toy Soldiers: Cold War Preview
80s nostalgia seems to have gripped the entertainment industry, and it's no surprise why. With the children of that uniquely hip era now fully grown adults, there exists an entire market looking to relive their childhoods: aging Gen-Xers eagerly buying up Thundercats t-shirts and He-Man DVD sets while somehow sitting through ridiculous summer blockbusters based on a toy-line of transforming robot cars. And so, when Signal Studios looked for inspiration in following up on their XBLA tower defense hit Toy Soldiers, this unique era of cold war tensions and colorful cartoons apparently came knocking.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War is rather obvious in its love for the period, the splash art for the game depicting a John Rambo-like figure standing proudly beneath a logo surprisingly similar to that of the hardened boys of the GI Joe fighting force. As dated as the source material may be, the game's take on the crowded Tower Defense genre is fresh. Like the original game, the action largely unfolds within a toy box, done up like a classic 80s action figure playset. Mission objectives vary slightly, though like all TD games, the true goal is to keep your base from being overrun with enemy soldiers---accomplished through strategic turret placement and management.
In our short play-through we saw our good old American GIs facing off against endless waves of pesky Ruskies, all charging blindly forward in the name of communism. The graphics were incredible, with the impressive mass of soldiers stampeding through the lush jungle environment while my gun turrets mowed them down with surprising efficiency. Unlike other Tower Defense games, Toy Soldiers limits your gun placements to a few predetermined spots on the map, and with enemies streaming in from multiple directions, it was a challenge to determine which turret type warranted which placement. Perhaps one of the most exciting features of the game is the ability to hop inside your turrets and take control of the action, and it was an honest thrill to be able to open fire with two blazing barrels or to steer the missiles of my anti-tank units.
The game's newest feature, however, was definitely the coolest. As a reward for my skill in murdering commies, I was randomly granted one of the game's many commandos to use. I soon found myself in the body of the game's Stallone look-alike, a veritable one-man army creating a swath of devastation in my path. Following my stellar performance as this incomprehensible mercenary, I managed to clean up the remaining waves with little trouble, wishing I could've reflected on the manly experience with a cigar held in my grit teeth.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War will be part of Xbox Live's Summer of Arcade event, and from what I saw it's definitely a recommended buy. My advice? Take the money you'll save from passing on another piece of Michael Bay garbage and relive your childhood proper. GO! JOE!