Break out your toys and defend the toybox.
Ubisoft and Signal Studios are back again to once more tug on the nostalgia of childhood toy battles with Toy Soldiers: War Chest, the third entry in this tower defense series. Along with making its first appearance on the new generation of consoles, the Xbox One and PS4, Toy Soldiers: War Chest goes one step further into the childhood memories by offering the use of licensed toys in your battles. Did I see He-Man?
The Toy Soldiers tower defense games have been really enjoyable in the past with a great concept, and Signal Studios have taken that concept even further in this latest game. But there have been some strange choices along the way. Still, let’s start at the beginning…
Toy Soldiers: War Chest is a tower defense game at its core. The battle fields are perfectly set for a war among toys, with backgrounds revealing the miniature scale of these battlegrounds in settings such as the garden or garage.
The player simply has to defend their toy box from waves of enemies. To do this, the player places turrets on pre-designated spaces. Different types of enemies, either your simple troops, armoured vehicles or aerial assault, require different turrets to turn them back, and players will often find themselves having to move turrets around as they try to position the correct turret in the right place. Players will earn currency by beating the enemy back, which can then be used for upgrading their turrets and making them more capable for the next wave. If enough enemies reach the toybox, it is game over.
So far, so tower defense. However, things get changed up a little with the player given the chance to personally control any of the turrets they have placed. This can be a whole lot of fun as the player jumps from one turret to the next, desperately fighting back the enemy. Obviously, taking control of a turrets does come at the risk of paying less attention to the overall map and whatever is happening elsewhere, but it does offer a different side to the game, helping to keep things engaged and enjoyable. Also, controlling turrets will eventually give the player access to special units that can roam the battleground.
Toy Soldiers: War Chest’s campaign mode doesn’t have any story to speak of, but who needs a story when toys are going to war against each other. However, what it does have is a very uneven difficulty curve, with the occasional spike likely to cause frustration for many gamers. Outside of the campaign, there is local co-op for two, online multiplayer for four and a challenge mode that regularly changes.
The real colour in Toy Soldiers: War Chest comes from the different factions that are available. The base game includes four factions that can be played as – Kaiser Army offering your regular toy soldier fare, Dark Side bringing the fantasy, Phantom for the sci-fi action, and Starbright which sets the action deeply into the realm of unicorns and rainbows. There is not too much difference between each of the factions when it comes to playing, with it mostly being an aesthetic difference, but players can improve their chosen faction through earning in-game currency.
However, the choice can be expanded even further by either buying the vastly more expensive Hall of Fame Edition of the game, or buy paying out for the additional four factions individually through microtransactions. These four new factions are licensed and are again designed to offer nostalgia. Players can choose from He-Man, G.I. Joe, Cobra or the strangely included Assassin’s Creed faction. Again, there are mostly cosmetic differences offered with these factions, giving some additional variety to the way the game looks. This does make it difficult to recommend purchasing either the Hall of Fame Edition or the extra factions unless you happen to be a die-hard fan of the game.
And die-hard fans may be difficult to come by as the game is quite simple and becomes repetitive quickly. Toy Soldiers: War Chest makes a good entry point for players who have never tried their hand at tower defense before, but the random difficulty spikes will lead to frustration and the general lack of strategy will leave seasoned players bored too soon.
Toy Soldiers: War Chest is a confusing game. The inclusion of different factions is a great idea, but feels poorly implemented and cheeky with the microtransactions. The core game is very enjoyable – controlling turrets and heroes is great – but doesn’t feel as smooth as the previous entry in the series. The nostalgia though, is undeniable and the game offers a nice route into tower defense for newcomers. Pick it up if you want to play with toys.