I went in to Tiny Troopers expecting the worst. I’ve played a ton of arcade style games recently on Xbox One and a good few of those wouldn’t look out of place back down in the mobile scene. Going hands-on with something that had been brought over from the small screen initially filled me with dread. But hey, I’m happy to give Wired Productions and Kukouri Mobile Entertainment a chance to prove that they can deal with something on a bigger, better scale.
And by golly I’m glad I did. Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is great fun and well worth your cash.
A twin stick arcade shooter, Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops combines the best of three worlds. Many of you will have played Tiny Troopers on your mobile device and you’ll be completely at home with what appears in Joint Ops. Bringing together a standard campaign, dropping in a follow up with Special Ops and ensuring Xbox One owners won’t be left disappointed with the new XombieOne mode, Joint Ops more than delivers on the content front.
For the vast majority of the game you control your foot soldiers, either as lone rangers or teamed up with squadmates, sending them into battle against enemy forces. Viewed from a top-down angled viewpoint, the left thumbstick enables you to control all characters at the same time. You’ll need to move them in and out of the cover of trees, up and around sheer rock faces and along mine ridden paths, slowly negotiating your way through, praying that one of the little guys won’t step foot on a well placed landmine. But that’s not all, to stop your forces from reaching their objective are a whole ton of tiny enemies, ranging from standard soldiers, to flame-throwing bad guys, Gatling gun equipped super warriors and those firmly encased inside tanks, fast patrol cars or huge concrete bunkers with a massive amount of defensive capabilities. Thankfully, any movement in the right stick ensures that your team can spray out an unlimited number of bullets and, if your budget dictates, an unlimited number of grenades, rockets and air strikes, it’s an easy (ish), hugely enjoyable romp through some cute battle sequences.
The standard campaign consists of no less than 30 levels, all of which are able to be completed on four different difficulty levels. Whilst the stages themselves don’t actually get harder the further you progress – in fact, the awkwardness of the stages ebbs and flows throughout, with the standard fare smattered with some super easy and then slightly harder options – nothing however will see you struggle for too long, even when you try and attempt a stage at the highest difficulty level. Especially if you’ve managed to level up your squad to a decent rank.
Yes, increasing your tiny troopers skill set is a must but is something that comes about surprisingly easily. Each and every kill, objective, collectible or mission that you complete will give you a reward in Command Points and these can then be spent on differing stats. Need to make your team faster? Fire some points into the fleet of foot stat. Want them to fire a greater distance? You can do that too. With the chance to make them harder, faster, cleverer and a better all round soldier than the initial ones you’ll be treated to, you’ll quickly come to realise how important the Command Points are.
Similarly, if you find yourself struggling on a certain mission, then your points can be used to draft in a Grenadier, Rocketeer, Medic, Gatling Gunner or more for the next stage only. They cost a fair bit – and you’ll need to have found a number of hidden ‘medals’ first in order to unlock them, but once you have done so, will find them an invaluable member of the team…if only because the additional weaponry that they bring makes even the toughest stage a whole lot easier.
If you want to really play around with the credits system that is in play, then you can also purchase additional uniforms for your guys to rock up in. There is nothing better than going into battle in full pink threads, or dropping into the action with a themed kit that brings an extra credit reward at the end of a completed mission. With such a huge emphasis placed on the Command Points and medals system, it’s delightfully strange to see that Kukouri have opted to keep away from the micro-transaction route. Something which they need to be commended for as the easy way out would be to let people ‘buy’ their way out of trouble.
Away from the standard option, the Special Ops campaign brings about more of the same as that found in the standard crusade. With another decent number of levels in play, it does allow you to get involved in some clever missions that involve the use of vehicles, amid more of a need for dragging in those super specialised units. If you’re finding the standard campaign a bit too easy, then Special Ops certainly sees the difficulty pick up…but never to a point when you’ll be left frustrated.
And that leaves us with the all-new XombieOne mode. A zombie wave segment that, whilst only bringing a few maps to the table, allows for some cracking high score leaderboard duels and intense whoring of in-game credits. There are only four missions in place, but they will have you battling the undead as you attempt to survive for as long as possible, clearing out areas full of zombified chickens, or getting behind a .50 cal mounted on a vehicle in order to deal out a whole ton of damage. It’s a brilliant addition that takes you away from having to worry too much about the health and fortune of your Tiny Troopers and is seemingly perfect for those times when all you want to do is plonk yourself on the sofa, grab a controller and go out for some mindless zombie bashing.
If you haven’t worked it out yet, I’m rather fond of Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops. There is however one major niggle that stops it from becoming an absolute ‘must-buy’. Much of this comes about thanks to a couple of glitchy areas found in a few of the maps, something which sees your team get stuck, unable to move and requiring a suicide grenade in order to get out. Normally, this wouldn’t really be an issue, just requiring a restart of the short stage in order to get going again, but with Tiny Troopers, there is much reliance on those hidden medals I spoke about earlier. With your individual soldiers ranking up with each kill and mission completion, it’s possible to get somewhat attached to certain individuals – Nick and I will be best friends forever! When they die (and at times they will), the game pulls on your heartstrings, insisting that you spend some of your precious medals on reviving a certain character (yep, that’ll be Nick then!). That’s all cool, but when the game requires you do go out with a bang through no fault of your own, spending medals that you’d previously wished to assign to something more exciting, then something is wrong. And slightly disappointing.
So, Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is just ‘another’ mobile game that has rocked up onto Xbox One eh? Well, no. Obviously its roots are well entrenched in the mobile side of things but with its cute battle scenes emitting a huge feeling of joy, you’ll never tire of sending your troops into battle – even if it’s just in vain hope that you can gain all four bullets on each and every level. Replayability is huge and should you be aiming for all achievements and a 100% completion record, then Joint Ops is going to set you right for a good while yet.
It’s most definitely not ‘just another mobile game’.