How many of you as kids used to play with those plastic army men soldiers? You know, those green and tan figures that were poised in various positions? If you were lucky, your package might have come with a barricade or a plastic tank. I distinctly remember setting them up in my backyard, specifically my sandbox, and narcissistically making them sink one by one as they did battle…this was in between chess games and Hi-C Ecto Cooler fruit drinks mind you. Anyway, seeing this particular game advertised on Steam brought back a flood of memories.
Toy Soldiers is a tower defense game in which you are tasked with building defenses to protect your “toy box.” Steady waves of enemy troops will be making a rush towards your toy box and your defenses are the only things standing in their way. Tower defense games are often a dime a dozen…if you don’t know what I mean, go ahead and Google “tower defense flash game.” What I find refreshing about this particular game is that you can take direct control over your defenses, one at a time. Feel like jumping in an anti-infantry turret and mowing enemy troops down with gunfire? Go for it. Feel like blowing up groups of soldiers with mortar shells? You can do that too. Howitzer cannon? Check. Anti-air guns? Roger that.
In the later missions, you’ll have access to a sniper tower that you can jump into and pick off troops (among other things) from a distance. This came in handy during certain points of a particularly troublesome wave, giving me the edge I needed to advance to the next wave. I feel that allowing you to take direct control over things helped to alleviate the boredom you often experience in tower defense games when you’re constantly waiting for troops to just throw themselves against your defenses and “die, already.”
On top of that, you’ll be able to fly various craft…dogfighting, dive bombing, and performing strafing runs to your heart’s content. It’s easy to forget that you still have a base to manage, upgrade, and protect, but luckily these planes spawn very quickly should you decide to hop out of one, causing its instant destruction.
Later missions also afford you the opportunity to upgrade defenses so that they are more effective. So not only must you place your defenses in an ideal manner, but remember to upgrade them in between waves so that they are more effective. Upgrading takes time and the unit becomes unavailable while it is doing so.
I should probably mention at this point a few things that irked me about the PC version. For one, you can’t customize the controls…though to be fair, I can do just about everything with my mouse. Flying is difficult with the mouse, but combined with the keyboard’s WASD keys, it’s not too bad.
Another thing that irked me was that multiplayer was left out of the PC version. I honestly would have enjoyed sending waves of troops against my enemy while building up my own base. The PC would have been an excellent platform for that sort of game mechanic.
It’s also worth noting that defense points are fixed…that is…you’re given empty circles or boxes on the map on which you can build your defenses. You can’t just pick any spot you want…you have to build on the preset locations. This mechanic is a mild annoyance to me as I feel that it limits how strategic you can be in your defense placement.
My final complaint is that this game utilizes Games for Windows LIVE…which I have no love for. At times, it can be a pain to install, update, and get games to work through it. I had to sign on through it to redeem the Steam ID key…so internet will be required at least once to get this game to work. I have not tested or tried running the game without internet…so buyer beware.
Regardless of its faults, Toy Soldiers is under ten bucks on Steam. If you enjoy tower defense games and are looking for something new to sink your teeth into, I recommend giving this game a look. As always, check your pc specs and the game requirements before purchasing!
Final Verdict: 6/10
You can check out play sessions here: