Lock and load gamers! You’re heading back to war, and back in time to the 80s with Toy Soldiers: Cold War. The USA and USSR are at ends with each other and the toys are set to battle it out. Building off the success of the original Toy Soldiers, Signal Studios is bringing the toys back for more action, and this time the action is faster and more lethal.
One thing that always scared me about game sequels is how different the games can be. There’s nothing worse then sitting down with a sequel to a game and feeling lost. Well, that is not the case with TS:CW. The core game hasn’t changed and the new additions and changes, beyond the upgraded units, will feel exactly the same. Setting up your toys and fighting with them is identical to the first game. Using the right trigger you get the radial menu of your units, and select units pops up the same radial allowing you to repair, upgrade and take control of the toys. One little note is the barbed wire fences are no longer in the menu and are now a quick thumbstick click away from being placed down.
Each level also has some sort of bonus vehicle for you to use. Some levels will offer up tanks, others will offer up various time-period helicopters. All of these special vehicles run off batteries, and you can either let them run out and wait for them to re-charge or explore the level and find the batteries to keep them juiced up for longer periods.
That covers the returning core gameplay, now onto the changes. In Cold War, the development team decided they wanted to get gamers into the turrets, more so than the first game. So they added Barrages. These are similar to the killstreak call-ins you find in Black Ops. As you rack up quick kills you’ll fill up a meter on your screen. Once it’s full, the Barrage ticker will start to spin and you’ll get access to a single use call-in like Artillery Barrage, or Bombing Run, or my favorite, the Rambo-inspired Commando with his machine gun and rocket launcher. Not only do these Barrages make you get down into the action, but in the later levels they become very helpful toward the final waves of enemies.
Another big change comes in the multiplayer aspect of the game. You have two choices, jump in the game and play with a friend or play against each other. Multiplayer warfare can take place via split-screen or Xbox Live. You also have a choice to play out the campaign together or tackle some special Versus maps against each other. Versus multiplayer is much more furious than the single player action and is quite fun!
Cold War also features a handful of quick pick-up-and-play mini games. All the mini-games have their own challenges and leaderboards, so while there are only a few mini-games, you’ll find yourself playing them over and over to not only beat your friends’ scores but to also score more in-game medals. Survival mode has also received some work; the mode is a lot more balanced and is a lot more fun to play. I think what also helps Survival not be as difficult as last game’s, is the addition of the Barrages, as they really work well when you have lots of enemies trying to get to your toy box.
The game looks very similar to the first title but there have been some improvements made to the destruction system. In the first game piece of the levels would fall apart in big chunks, and in Cold War, things crumble and fall apart in much smaller pieces. There are also some neat video filters used at times, like night vision, and when using inferred anti tank missiles.
I really enjoyed the first Toy Soldiers and Cold War continues the franchise’s fun and addicting gameplay. The team was able to capture the 80s/Cold War feel really well from the battery meters, to the more modern turrets and driveable vehicles. The new barrage system is a great addition as it offers a nice twist to your strategy, plus it’s great spending more time in the turrets and getting your hands dirty. The minigames are nice and the new multiplayer adds to the replay value, but I did feel like the campaign was really short and pretty easy on normal mode. Granted once you play through it once, you unlock the harder difficulties, which are much more challenging and take more time to play. Toy Soldiers: Cold War is by far my most favorite XBLA title of the summer and of the year. It’s well worth the Microsoft Points.
A copy of Toy Soldiers: Cold War for Xbox 360 was provided to us for review from Signal Studios.