Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a sequel to last year’s highly successful action/strategy game Toy Soldiers. Not only does Toy Soldiers: Cold War fix every initial problem from its predecessor, it goes above and beyond. It takes downloadable arcade games to a new level, and a damn fine one at that.
When I played the original Toy Soldiers last year, I loved it, but it also took time to suck me in and make me love it. With Toy Soldiers: Cold War, nope. Within the first ten minutes of playing, I was screaming “This is fucking awesome!” Because, yes, it is all that and a fistful of bullets. First and foremost, the game does a better job of explaining how to play. Each level in the tutorial gives you a grasp of all the types of turrets and what exactly they’re used for. Then, the first level of the game, “Basic Training,” gives you an insight on how the game is supposed to be played. Not only that, but it’s action packed and will make you yell, “Fuck yeah!” once you’ve completed it.
The biggest (and probably the smartest) change to Toy Soldiers: Cold War is the era. To be honest, the WWI setting in the original was nice and all, but I often found it quite boring, especially compared to the Cold War. Not only is this more interesting, it’s more exciting and it grabs you by the balls. There will be more enemies, more variety, and best of all, more chaos. Toy Soldiers: Cold War is fucking packed with content, and I mean packed. The single-player campaign consists of eleven levels; Versus adds three unique maps to its mode; Survival adds another three unique maps; and last but not least, you have six additional mini-games to play. Oh, and did I mention you can play the entire campaign, Survival, and mini-games modes in two-player co-op? Online and off? Yeah, this is an arcade title done right.
On top of all that, each level — through campaign, survival, etc. — has its own unique challenge for you to complete. The campaign challenges, of which there are two per level compared to just one for other game modes, will grant you “Decorations” for each one completed for a total of 22. Each challenge has multiple levels as well. Say you need to earn 50 kills for level one, 100 for level 2, and so forth. All of this information will be displayed when selecting a level in any game mode. You’ll see your friends’ high scores, how many levels of the challenge they’ve completed, your Xbox LIVE rank, and your rank amongst your friends. There’s also a weapons case where you can view and test all the weapons in the game with unlimited ammo and no reloads against endless infantry.
Now that I’ve spent the last four paragraphs explaining just how much content this game packs, you’re probably wondering about the gameplay itself. Simply put, it’s fucking spectacular. The original Toy Soldiers often felt clunky and could also be a pain in the ass. With Toy Soldiers: Cold War, don’t even think about it. Everything is so seamless and smooth, and the frame rate holds up marvelously. Toy Soldiers: Cold War also offers a nice selection in its arsenal. You have your standard mini-gun turrets, rocket launchers, and even a turret that shoots fucking Roman Candles. Before you ask, yes, it’s beautifully awesome. Each turret also has three levels that significantly change with each upgrade. At level one, tour rocket launcher shoots a standard rocket, which can be flown manually by holding the left trigger. At level two, it fires four less powerful rockets one after another.
All the turrets are nice for a simple game of tower defense, but where Toy Soldiers: Cold War really shines is in its vehicles, such as tanks, helicopters, and even jets, plus the new feature to acquire a Barrage. While manually controlling any turret or vehicle, a meter is displayed in the bottom left hand corner. The faster you kill, the faster it fills. Once you reach 20 consecutive kills, you’ll be treated to unlimited ammo and no reloads. Imagine a rocket turret level two shooting hundreds of rockets within a short few seconds. Yeah, it’s awesome. Once you reach 40 consecutive kills, you’ll earn a Barrage chosen at random. You might get a nice artillery strike to bring a flame-filled death upon your foes, a controllable AC-130 equipped with three different deadly weapons to rain hell, or my personal favorite: Rambo.
Okay, so it’s not technically called Rambo, but it looks exactly like him and the level of insanity he brings is fucking unreal. Not only is he the coolest Barrage in the game, the way he enters the battlefield is astounding. By pressing Y, a giant cardboard action figure box appears on the battlefield, falls to the surface, and out comes Rambo wielding a light machine gun in one hand, and a rocket launcher in the other. Rambo has unlimited ammo, no reloads, and can travel virtually anywhere on the playing field. He also screams some intense dialog as well. Take on a fleet of soldiers and he might yell “This one’s for Jimmy,” or “You want a war? You’ve got a war.” Simply put, it’s remarkable.
Over the course of the seven-to-eight-hour campaign, I felt a significant change in the difficulty over the original. I’ve only played the game on normal thus far. Even though it was substantially easier, the experience was superior in every way. The game never lets up or gets dull at any point and always keeps you on your toes wanting more. Thankfully so, it does just that with a wide variety of game modes.