Toy Soldiers: Cold War Review - August 31st 2011

Of course! Tower defence where you control the tower. An idea so obvious, so brilliant, you feel a bit slow not thinking of it first. Like non-drip tuna cans or someone saying: "I've got it; let's extradite Piers Morgan to America".

Certainly, the twist isn't an entirely original one. The genre is a resplendent epidemic on flash gaming sites, download stores and mobile phones, each entry subtly changing the formula with new ways to play. But none have given the genre more polish, ingenuity or care as Signal Studios.
With 2010's XBLA release, Toy Soldiers, the developers had on their war-mongering hands the best tower defence game on Xbox 360. The aim was simple - protect your toy box by deploying infantry-shredding machine guns, fierce mortar fire, aircraft-annihilating anti-air, and even barbed wire (annoying finicky troops without sewing kits).

They're just toys, right?

The concept hasn't changed, but everything else has. If the first game was a gentle 40's piano serenade, a 'who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler?', Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a guitar-screeching, mullet-and-bandanna-wearing, oiled-up triceps war cry, a 'don't kid with me, Mr. Khrushchev'.

Sticking two muscled fingers at the definition of 'Cold War', combat is very real. Well, as real as shooting hundreds of tiny figures and watching them explode into springs and cogs can get, anyway. Let's not get it twisted; this is slaughter at its most inoffensive. Mowing down a crowd of plastic infantry and watching your score skyrocket leaves you with all the satisfaction and none of the guilt.

Split screen support is a welcome feature.

It might also leave you with new abilities. They're overpowered, cheap, and plentiful, but most importantly they are an absolute blast to use. Kill enough soldiers and you can call in air support or a devastating bombing run. You may even get the chance to summon a vest-wearing meathead from the sky (who we shan't call Rambo for legal reasons). Emerging from a plastic action figure box, you'll control Rambo (oops) and fire dizzying arrays of rockets and bullets, completely churning the toy set to bits with explosive 80's machismo and quotable sound-bites. It's cheesier than an all-cheese whopper, but an undeniable riot.

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