I remember playing with action figures. Hours of intense imaginary campaigns in which only one side could be victorious. Do kids still play with action figures? They must, otherwise they are missing out. Toy soldiers had me hooked with the trailer as He-Man and G.I. Joe made quick cameos. “I HAD THOSE TOYS!” at this moment the nostalgia factor went through the roof. It looked like such fun seeing different toys duke it out in a tower defense game that lets you manually control the towers FPS style as well as claim “champion units” by building up your kill count.
There are 4 “basic” factions are what you initially get to choose from but with the legendary hero pack you get the nostalgia “WOW” factor of G.I. Joe, Cobra Commander, He-Man (Masters of the Universe) and Assassins Creed. The “basic” 4 are Kaiser Wilhelm which continues to prove that the Germans have to be involved to make a war game. Then we have Phantom which are the laser shooting, mech wearing future soldiers. Star Bright is the “Barbie” faction complete with fairies and cute little teddy bear/care bears and jumping unicorns. Last but not least is the Dark Lord faction which is composed of things you would find in any dungeons and dragons game such as dragons, knights and even bombs in the shape of D20s.
8 factions in total attributes to a pretty good selection and hours of entertainment…right? Unfortunately this is where the fun seems to flatline. With all these selections of classes the focus is withdrawn from the towers you are intended to build which include, 1 anti-infantry, 1 anti-armor, 1 anti-air, 1 artillery; and it’s the same for every faction. The damage/health/range might vary by 1 point from faction to faction but essentially it’s the same towers doing the same job for the whole campaign and multiplayer. The true originality comes from the “champion units”. There are some downsides to having He-Man or Ezio as your champion quickly realizing a melee character running across a battle field is an awful idea, which begs the question why bother having such a non-efficient class. These “champion units” also fall victim to most maps design, in the form of trenches or any drop or raise in elevation. Watch the enemy jump in a trench for cover and get closer before climbing back out; if you decide to jump in the trench and follow with your champion you are quick to discover that there is no “climb out/jump button” and are forced stop playing the champion and try to build up another combo bar to get a new champion… Just don’t fall in any hole this time. The kicker is that the movement of some champions is clunky which makes it hard to avoid falling into a hole or off ledge.
The concept however is spot on: Toys from your youth! Gaining faction experience allows you to eventually open toy boxes which contain random upgrades (3 for each tower) or in game currency which is used to buy these upgrades or more toy boxes. The upgrades may be the same for each faction (damage/hp/range) but the visuals are where the cleverness shines, (e.g.upgrade the turret range on your Cobra anti-infantry tower and there will be a pair of binoculars crudely taped to the tower which makes for fun game ambiance but is not enough to see past the flaws of Toy Soldiers). The game itself looks good but it doesn’t seem to be fully taking advantage of the PS4’s capabilities; the graphics could be better and the game engine could be tighter. It feels like Toy Soldiers is trying to allow us to do too many things at once but has not taken the time to fully develop the aspects of tower defense or FPS genres; we should have been given more to play with and things should be running more smoothly.