Develop Signal Games continues their Toy Soldiers legacy with the tower defense focused War Chest. On the outside, Toy Soldiers War Chest is rough on the edges with poor graphics on the PlayStation 4 and susceptible frame rate and clipping issues. However, in between, there is some fun to be had with the many tower defense elements blending smartly with the third person combat and upgrade heavy experience.
The campaign of Toy Soldiers centers around 4 heroes with different themes and playboxes, as the game’s title suggests, but they are generally all just re-skins of the same enemy variants. You have the regular foot soldier, the more powerful mini-bosses, and either air or tank units. You progress through the campaign by clearing all waves on a level through upgrading your turrets, anti-aircraft guns, and the like, either controlling them yourself or allowing the AI to fire for you while you sit on the birds eye screen and set tactics. You also have the ability, usually once or twice per match, to assume the role of the hero character that comes in the way of a fancy animation wherein the little toy rips out of its toybox and allows you to control them in third person view.
The problems arise when you qickly realize the game is laden with microtransactions for characters and toyboxes such as G.I. Joe and Assassin’s Creed. This and being littered with UPlay connectivty in the online portion which isn’t much different then the single player campaign side are annoyances. Players are now able to both attack and defend with attacking being egregiously difficult as defending players bombard your infantry with barrel bombs and machine gun fire ad infinitum. On the audio/visual side, themes of toyboxes vary incredibly but the grimey graphics and poor textures do not help. The voice-acting is subpar, and the music gets annoying rather quickly. Although the menus are neatly designed, the loading times are incredibly long and, as mentioned before, there are framerate issues.
Coming back to the core gameplay, players are usually in the process of surveying the enemy types and building appropriate defenses against said enemies. For example, if the game throws a few powerful mini-bosses and dozens of infantry, it’s best to put powerful anti-aircraft weapons near your toybox, so you can launch missiles and take out massive groups of enemies by extending the range of the AA machines. You can also set up a few anti-infantry turrets – which upgrades their damage – to blow away as many of the enemies as possible close to their spawn point. This strategic level of play is Toy Soldiers’ greatest attribute. It really shines when you are in the later stages on the 13th wave having to rush across the screen and repair one of your vital anti-tank missles with your budget running out. Each kill gives the player an X amount of cash they can spend on upgrades and weapons, and after successfully clearing a level, the player is given a FIFA Ultimate Team-style pack reward of 3 different items.
The last gamemode, and Toy Soldiers‘ most ingenious, is called Weekly War. Every weekday, the developers launch daily challenges for players to attain weekly reward. For example, for one week, G.I. Joe might be invading your toybox and by completing the 5 daily challenges, you are given a free toybox full of characters or new levels. This constant stream of content is a smart way for the developers to get players back into the game with legitimately good incentives.
Toy Soldiers War Chest, despite its technical issues, is a decent and deep tower defense title that would have been much better with more content available to the player out of the box. A more polished experience with nice visuals would have made this sequel great, but the hindrances (eg, frame drops and monetary systems) are too troublesome for this game to deserve great praise.
A PS4 code for Toy Soldiers was provided by Ubisoft for review purposes.