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#16: Toy Soldiers / Toy Soldiers Cold War
Playing with army men has been a staple of little boys’ childhood for generations. For as long there’s been war there’s been battlefield mock-ups of plastic platoons storming a paper battlefield. Over the years there’s been no shortage of real-time strategy games or tower-defense games to choose from but there have been few games based on toys (the only ones that come to mind include the 1999 Dreamcast title ‘Toy Commander’, the many movie-licensed games based on the ‘Toy Story’ franchise, and the Army Men series).
Toy Soldiers was released in early 2010 to high praise from fans and critics. Your objective: to defend your toy box (or base) from hordes of oncoming plastic invaders in the form of soldiers and enemy vehicles. Battles take place on miniature dioramas in a child’s bedroom but it isn’t long before these pristine settings turn into a blitzkrieg of smoldering plastic. As more enemies die players earn cash which they can spend in real-time upgrading their arsenals (which include mortars, howitzers, machine guns, tanks, etc.), repairing damaged equipment, or reinforcing their existing artillery, however there are two very specific aspects of gameplay that distinguishes Toy Soldiers from its predecessors.
Firstly, Toy Soldiers takes place in a World War I facsimile. While most games have gravitated towards Nazi Germany and World War II storylines, Toy Soldiers shucks these in favor of highlighting the brutality of trench warfare. Secondly, is the game’s production quality. I challenge readers to find a game better looking game than Toy Soldiers prior to May of 2010 on the Xbox Live Arcade marketplace. At the time of the game’s release the perception of Xbox Live Arcade games was they were either low-quality throwaway games not good enough for mainstream release or not deserving of media attention when compared to big-name studio releases. Indeed, Toy Soldiers raised the bar for online games across all platforms
Toy Soldiers: Cold War doesn’t stray too much from its original, so much so that including it alongside the original game wasn’t much of a stretch. Add a dash of Cold War nostalgia, a change of scenery, a few slight tweaks to gameplay, and Rambo-inspired one-man-army “barrages” that plow down enemies with rail-guns, and you’ve basically got Toy Soldiers: Cold War. Other additions make both titles a treat to play: online play, local split-screen multiplayer, and the addition of downloadable content packs just to name a few. It’s accessibility has also made the game enjoyable for players who are not typical fans of tower-defense or action-strategy games.
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