Historical Warfare on Your Tabletop
Toy Soldiers is the first release from Bothell, Washington based Signal Studios. Featuring tower defense gameplay in which you relive major battles of WWI with toy soldiers on a table in someone's hobby room. When I say toy soldiers I mean vintage key wound tanks and little tin soldiers. It's an incredibly creative art style and it's instantly charming.
Who knew that WWI's stationary warfare and the tower defense genre would blend together so well? Toy Soldiers takes the incredibly brutal trench warfare and puts it into a game style that makes sense. You will build historically accurate weapons on predetermined points to stop periodic waves of attacking enemy troops. Killing opponents gets you money to continue building and upgrading your defenses. A rock/paper/scissors system is in place which will force you to think carefully about what you place where. Putting a poison gas turret at an infantry chokepoint will lay waste to a ground assault but will do nothing to a vehicle. Every weapon emplacement has three levels of upgrade you'll unlock as you advance through the campaign making them more and more effective. If too many of them get through to enter your toy box you lose.
If you don't like how the AI is doing mowing down cannon fodder you can hop into any emplacement at any time to take direct control. This allows you to have much more precision and will even allow you to rack up large points modifiers to get extra cash for kills. You can even take control of artillery shells and steer them into a target from a shell cam allowing you to hit targets the AI would have no ability to otherwise. There is even an Elite difficulty in which your defense won't fire on their own and you have to take control yourself. In addition on some maps you'll get access to flying units and tanks allowing you to take the fight to the enemy in a more mobile way.
While the gameplay is solid the attention to detail is what is most impressive about Toy Soldiers. You can zoom into the battlefield and watch individual soldiers running across the field. They stumble, hop over fences and wave for their fellow soldiers to advance. Artillery emplacements show the crew ejecting and loading each individual shell. Buildings crumple under fire and the field will turn into a muddy cratered mess. The whole time you can look beyond the edges of the field to see the lamps and boxes around the field and when anything dies it turns back into the toy it originally was.
Toy Soldiers is definitely a solid debut for Signal and an easy recommendation for tower defense fans. At $15 (1200 points) you'll get twenty four missions, multiplayer, and a survival horde-style mode. While it doesn't reinvent the genre the gameplay is rock solid and the art style will keep you playing for a long time.