Title: Toy Soldiers: War Chest
Platform: PC, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Signal Studios
Release date: August 11th 2015
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Having never played the previous games of the Toy Soldiers franchise, I was kind of intrigued of how it all played out. When I had the chance to review Toy Soldiers: War Chest, I jumped on it. The game plays out a bit like a board game where you have to control armies of toys against evil toys who want to overtake your toy box. Sounds simple, right? It is, but is it fun?
Toy Soldiers: War Chest is an interesting mix of thin veil of strategy mixed up with some third-person action. Once you’re thrown into a map, you’ll have a few seconds to setup turrets and the like in order to defend your territory and stop invading forces from reaching your toy box. As you kill enemy toys, you’ll earn money in order to set up additional turrets or stronger weapons such as Anti Aircraft towers in order to defend your playground. As you complete levels, you’ll also earn new upgrades which can be used moving forward on the overworld map. Each map features 13 waves of enemies charging at you; each wave will feature different enemy types, also map-based enemies, and they’ll get progressively harder to kill as you survive your way to the final wave.
The main issue I have with this game is that it’s difficulty is very poorly balanced. You’ll start off on your first map and have an adequate challenge; not easy nor painfully difficulty. But things get hairy pretty quick; right from the 3rd map, you’ll encounter new enemies that will take an insane amount of damage and if you want to stop them, you have to make sure that you have at least 2 turrets shooting at it in order to stop it from making it to your toy box. Then the following map or two will provide an adjusted challenge. Then afterwards, another map will things run almost flawlessly until you get to the thirteenth wave and run into a boss-like enemy which will mow down your turrets in a matter of seconds even if you’ve maxed them out; while your turrets will barely make a chink in the boss’ health bar. This can cause to many frustration as you’ll have failed your objectives and have to start over. Very frustrating failing at the Final wave after spending 15-20 minutes successfully holding off hordes of enemies. Another annoying issue is often times, the enemy’s health bar will be depleted, but you’ll still have to unload ammo into them. Luckily, even failing a map, players will be rewarded with a few additional upgrades in order to regroup and take another shot at the challenge.
One interesting game mechanic is the Hero. When you successfully kill a set amount of enemies, there’s a three level meter that fills up. Each level will give players the opportunity to unleash a special hero/attack on the opposing team. First bar on the meter allows player to use a special Hero; including Joe from the G.I. Joe’s or even the Master of the Universe himself; He-Man. You can also pick heroes specifically created for the game or Ubi’s own Altair from the first Assassin’s Creed game. It make things interesting because unlike being restrained to a turret, you can actually run around the battlefield and blow stuff up. But be careful, you have to keep your eyes on two meters: The heatlh and battery meter. If your character runs out of batteries or is K.I.A., killed in action, you’ll have to start filling out the meter again. Luckily, there are a few batteries scattered across the map giving you a chance to make the fun last longer. Completing maps will also unlock new characters with their set of skills. If you opt to save your meter and reach the second and third bar, you’ll be able to unleash a barrage of soldiers or a zeppelin.
Along with choosing a hero, you can also buy and upgrade their respective “armies”. Each hero has their own set of “skills” which serves as artillery on the ground. G.I. Joe will have fellow Joes to help him fight back against invading armies, while He-Man will be able to summon Orko. Each character can be leveled up through battles, win or lose. As with the gaming standard, leveling up lets you upgrade and improve your character and its armies.
And fear not online players, Toy Soldiers: War Chest offers some online good times as well. You can either play against other players online or tackle the campaign with a buddy. Unfortunately, players are required to have a Uplay account in order to access these modes.
The game’s “story” is told through cute cartoon storyboard in before and after every missions. Unlocking new characters will rewarded players with a neat little cartoon introduction; pretty much a flashback for us older gamers who grew up on the G.I. Joe and He-Man cartoons. Characters, yours and the enemies, have that nice little plastic look; as if your toys have really come to life. Although it brings a bit of authenticity, enemy on-foot soldiers are tiny and can easily be lost in the environment. The head of the herd will have a star icon above so you can track them down at first, but once they disperse, it’s easy (and frustrating) to lose track of them. Missing targets will most likely result in your toybox being attacked.
I was actually caught off guard by Toy Soldiers: War Chest’s charm. Although I was expecting a more extensive third person experience, it’s strategic element kept me coming back for more. Despite getting frustrated at the game’s unbalanced difficulty, I was having fun using my heroes and customizing my troops. Its mix of (limited) third person action and strategic elements makes for a great little game. Players who keep at it despite frustrating battles will be rewarded with hours of fun and content.
- Great gameplay variety
- Go Joe!
- Plenty of content
- Easily lose sight of enemies
- Poorly balanced difficulty
- Excruciating long loading times
- Uplay required for online sessions
Toy Soldiers: War Chest is rated T for Teen. The game features cartoon violence between, you know, toys. Toys blow up everywhere; no blood.
Code provided courtesy of Xbox UK