Toy Soldiers is a classic “XBLA” game from the Xbox 360 era. Many people, including myself, have very fond memories of it; a tower defense strategy game where you take control of little WW1 toy army men in a big diorama. It was a fun and challenging strategy game that was equal parts epic and goofy. Toy Soldiers HD is a re-released version with graphical upgrades and some new content. Although some of these “upgrades” leave a lot to be desired.
The campaign is split into 24 levels comprising the original game, DLC, and some added bonus levels. Levels start off with you getting an overview of the “base” that you’re defending. Around these bases are building spots where you can place down defenses like machine guns, mortars, anti-air guns, etc. There’s a big variety in these defenses, each with varying sizes and uses on the battlefield.
There are also often vehicles that the player can drive and use to destroy foes. Everything from planes to tanks. These are incredibly fun and massively effective; using them at the right time can change the course of a level.
You build these and use armaments with cash you collect from successfully killing waves of enemies that come at your base. The enemies come in all shapes and sizes, and will find that different defenses work well against different foes. The basic premise is that you keep this up, stopping anyone from getting to your base, and eventually the level is completed.
It’s all very much your standard tower defense affair, but the defenses and enemies are fun to play around with. There is some serious challenge to be found, especially on the later levels and it’s safe to say that as a package it packs in a great amount of replayability. Each level can be played in a horde mode style survival, where you see how many waves you can take. There’s also a secondary campaign for most levels where you can play as the enemy. So there’s lots to do.
That’s not to mention multiplayer in Toy Soldiers HD, which was a huge amount of fun on the original release. However my attempts to play it on this re-release were hugely disappointing, mostly as I struggled to find many matches to connect to and the few times I did, it often crashed. This was a huge disappointment because the multiplayer can really offer dozens of hours of fun; certainly one of my favorite aspects of the original. It allows you to build defenses and also send out units to go against the other enemies team. However I simply could not play it effectively while reviewing.
Another disappointment is found in the “updated graphics” as honestly it looks no different than the original. In fact, it might even look slightly worse, because the resolution is better and the textures look rough under the new light. It also ran quite poorly throughout my time with it. I had several crashes and often it lagged heavily during levels. This didn’t happen all the time, but it was enough to become an annoyance.
However even if the graphical capability is not really where it should be, the art style still holds up wonderfully. Playing with all the little toy figurines is a weird look that totally works and the overall tone of Toy Soldiers HD is, on one hand, completely goofy, but on the other really intense. It can be easy to forget that you’re in a toybox, getting wrapped in world war combat.
However it’s hard to understand what the point of picking up Toy Soldiers HD is? Unfortunately it’s the only way to play Toy Soldiers on the latest Xbox consoles, however you can pick up the original on Steam, often for pennies. It would probably run better and look better than this “HD” release. If you have no other option and are looking for a solid strategy game then it still holds its own. But it’s a shame that more wasn’t done with this re-release.
Toy Soldiers HD is genuinely worth playing if you have never done so before; there is a huge amount of fun to be had here. This HD title could have been a lot more too, and honestly might work less well than the original ever did. But what’s there is still a good time for strategy fans and it’s still able to provide a very unique experience.
A download of Toy Soliders HD can be obtained from the Xbox Store