As many of people know, or, at least, know about me, I was very excited for Toy Soldiers: War Chest. It was a franchise I was interested in, and was ready to check out when it was announced last year. Once it became known that the game was going to have four different armies to choose from, and four new ones with three of them based off old Hasbro properties, the hype increased. Now that it’s out, and I rented the PlayStation 4 version of the Hall of Fame Edition, what do I think about the game? Well, I do think Toy Soldiers: War Chest is a unique game among the tower defense genre, but due to Ubisoft and a few other unfavorable elements, the game has become underwhelming. Not to say that this is a terrible game, because it really isn’t, but I do think the game had some problems because of the higher-ups.
Toy Soldiers: War Chest is an action-oriented tower defense game. You get a cool tabletop battlefield, the kind that you see when you go to those stores that sell those plastic tabletop RPG stuff. You place different turrets around the battlefield to take down the different soldier types. For example, you should place down machine gun turrets around walking paths to take care of those pesky soldiers, and anti-armor turrets on open areas to take down of any armored vehicles. Another good idea is to place anti-aircraft turrets by the base to take down flying opponents. The cool gimmick of the Toy Soldiers series is that you can take control of individual turrets you set up/upgrade to take the action into your own hands. In this game, you can fill up a power meter to unlock multiple special abilities, like launching massive vehicles, or using the leader of the army as a special soldier. As you take down enemies and vehicles, you will be gaining money, and can upgrade your turrets to be stronger, hit in a wider area, or be able to take up more damage. Outside of the main combat, you can buy upgradable levels for your weapons or additional armies if you didn’t buy the Hall of Fame Edition, and you can play online with a friend or co-op. No matter which version you pick up of the game, you are going to have a huge amount of content.
Graphically, it looks fine. It’s nothing technically powerful, but it does pull off the plastic toy look very well. The music is nothing super special, since it’s very ambient and forgettable. It’s pretty much there to get you pumped for the next wave of enemies.
This is the part everyone has been waiting for. I shouldn’t be surprised, since for one reason or another, people relish in hearing the negatives. Well, there is a lot to complain about. Ubisoft, why put in your terrible UPlay service and microtransactions into this game? No one liked them in your past games from last year, and no one likes them now. People are already paying about $30 to get everything from the base game to the four additional armies. No one should be paying more than they should for a game. It’s tedious, since if you buy the physical disc version of the Hall of Fame Edition, you still have to use a voucher code to download the four fan service armies. That really screws over people like me, who rented the game expecting all eight armies to be on the disc. Maybe instead of forcing people to pay additional fees, you could have used all that time and talent to rebalance enemy forces and bosses. Too many times do the enemies and bosses, even if you are using the right turrets, soak up damage. The only way I could beat the first official boss of the game, which was this giant tank, was to upgrade my anti-air cannons, because they were the only ones who did enough damage to do anything to the boss. The overall game feels like a grind, and it seems like the enemies always have a clear advantage over you. I would rather have the playing field be even across the board, since at times, having a well-planned out strategy doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, you just have to take control yourself, because the AI controlling the turrets isn’t fast enough to react. It also almost costs way too much to upgrade everything. The enemies don’t give up enough money unless you get lucky, and your anti-infantry turrets mow down a load of soldiers in unison, or your anti-armor turrets blow up a group of them with a couple of mortar rounds. One of the coolest elements in the game, being able to play as the main leader of whatever army you choose, is locked behind this action bar that fills up the more times you mow down enemies as a turret you control. The cool-down meters take too long to cool down, and the loading times for upgrades and reloading become tedious. I think if they gave you more freedom without some of the restrictions like cool-downs and meters, the game would be a lot more intense and satisfying. The sound effects are fine, but once you hit the halfway point of the story mode, the missions just become longer versions of the Horde Mode seen in Gears of War. I think once you hit the three-game milestone, you need to start expanding on everything else. At least they could have made the bosses and enemies not be bullet sponges, which is a criticism I have heard from the past two games in the franchise. The overall pacing hits a brick wall, and it feels like this game was meant to be more heavily microtransactions-heavy, but stopped halfway through, and then forgot to change the overall pace to not be so grind-heavy. I am all for a challenge, but it seems like I am the one always at a disadvantage, while the enemies don’t get the same limitations. Just having more money from killing enemies would greatly help the pace.
So, it sounds like I hate this game with its unbalanced areas, micro-transactions, bullet sponge enemies, and road-block pacing at the halfway point. Well, I still stand by my opinion that I am disappointed with this game, but I have played far worse games this year. You still have eight different armies that have their own quirks to them, satisfying combat, and something different for the tower defense genre. If you want everything in one go, just bite the bullet and get the Hall of Fame Edition digitally or in a physical form. It’s one of the more interesting games of the year that is sadly brought down by corporate greed and questionable design choices. Just avoid the PC version for now, since I hear it is quite buggy. Get this game if you are a fan of the series, but you can afford to wait for a sale. You can count on me putting my toys away until the next war.
This game gets a 6 out of 10.