Review: Toy Soldiers: War Chest – Hall of Fame Edition (PS4)

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Title: Toy Soldiers: War Chest – Hall of Fame Edition
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (4.6 GB)
Release Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Signal Studios
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), €29.99 (EU), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
Toy Soldiers: War Chest – Hall of Fame Edition is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Toy Soldiers: War Chest – Hall of Fame Edition is the first game I’ve played in the series, in part because it was never released on a Sony console and I never got round to trying it. Well now that Ubisoft is publishing this Microsoft-owned intellectual property it’s finally been released on the PlayStation and after many years I get to see what the fuss was all about.

Shooting a rainbow-colored unicorn in the face was something I never thought I would do, let alone have fun doing it. Now before Ricky Gervais tweets how evil I am, let me first point out that this is a game and secondly, unicorns don’t exist.

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Gameplay:
I’ve always liked the idea of a miniature battlefield to play with re-enact battles from our history, or to just play out some war-games. In Toy Soldiers: War Chest I get to do just that… well almost. This game is essentially a real-time tower defence title where you can also control the toys. You have set places where you can position turrets and upgrade to fend off the waves of enemy toys.

Each army has hero and boss toys that you can play as, or against, in battle. You have the classic WWI-era German Army led by the infamous Kaiser; Starbright and her army of unicorns, bears and pixies; an evil Dark Lord and his fearsome beasts; a futuristic space army called the Ghost Company led by Phantom; and then there is the DLC.

The downloadable content can be bought individually if you only have the digital base game and it is comprised of G.I. Joe, Cobra; Masters of the Universe, and lastly Assassin’s Creed. You get the hero character and a corresponding army to lead into battle.

… fun and varied in some ways …
The costly downloadable content is the biggest selling point and why many people will want the Hall of Fame Edition as you get a code for all the content with the disc. This higher priced version also has some major problems. It would seem the DLC is locked to the person who redeems it and other users cannot play that content without buying it themselves. Then to make matters worse the game checks with Uplay each time you load the menu but doesn’t always connect, meaning you can’t access the DLC.

Being able to use a variety of childhood toys made Toy Soldiers: War Chest even more fun and varied in some ways. Sadly the nostalgic immersion was ruined to a degree by the inclusion of Assassin’s Creed toys. I understand Ubisoft wanting to shoehorn some of their properties into the mix but it doesn’t fit that well. I’m surprised they didn’t throw some Rabbids in as well. We can be thankful for that I guess.

You can switch between any army during the single player campaign but I found sticking with one and upgrading them to be the best route to success. G.I. Joe seems to be the best out of the bunch of DLC and it might be worth considering buying the standard game (digital only) and only that extra content.

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But what of the actual gameplay I hear you ask; well I’ll tell you. It can be fun and satisfying decimating wave after wave of enemies. Building up a kill streak bar that unlocks hero and boss characters that you can commandeer to unleash devastating blows to the opposing army is always fun. You can get by with just placing and upgrading turrets in a standard tower defence way but taking control of them in a third-person view allows you to shoot a lot further and with a higher degree of accuracy than the A.I. ever could, plus it’s fun.

With certain turrets you can spam the trigger and send out a volley of fireballs or lasers for example, that will quickly destroy a wave of armoured tanks or lumbering beasts which would take the A.I. ages to overcome if left on its own. In a few instances I’ve found a bug where you can fire continuously without reloading and if aimed correctly can kill the enemy as they ready themselves before attacking. This causes the game to send out a continuous supply of that enemy until you stop spamming the trigger and let them finish readying for the next wave. Bugs like this can send your money earned from kills sky-high, making the level all too easy.

… Loading seems to take ages …
The difficulty is pretty well-balanced in the single-player campaign with it only ramping up in the last few levels. If you haven’t earned enough in-game tokens by completing levels, you can make things easier by upgrading your hero and turrets as Ubisoft lets you fast track your way to the top by letting you spend more of your hard-earned money to buy tokens from the PlayStation Store. Aren’t they nice.

Loading seems to take ages and for some stupid reason you wait while the game boots up and then plays an introduction video, which you can skip. Then on to a splash screen where you have to press Options to continue, after more loading you eventually get to the simple menu. Your waiting isn’t over as it takes ages to load a level.

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Visuals:
You can move around the miniature battlefield fairly quickly and observe the action from afar, which is fine. It is only when you get up close to some of the enemies or objects when you notice the detail levels take a hit. Nothing too major, but noticeable nonetheless. Much of the environment is destructible but one or two oddly placed things can often obscure your view when taking control of a turret on certain maps.

… He-Man’s Battlecat bounces about …
Signal Studios threw in the ability to turn on tilt-shift when the game is paused, allowing you to explore the map and find some good moments to make use of that very popular Share Button on the DualShock 4. I really like the way a soldier will run around until shot which briefly turns them into a real toy and they’ll stagger about or fall over if killed. Orange colored discs fire out of launchers, He-Man’s Battlecat bounces about as if held by an invisible child. The sense of play is ever-present.

Full size objects are littered around most battlefields and they range from cigars and ashtrays to books and even sweets, complete with familiar branding. You’ll see the soldiers climbing over some of these and reacting if something is destroyed, by either pausing to jump a gap where a bridge once stood or having a clear, faster path to your toy box.

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Audio:
The game has a nice selection of sound effects and music, the best being the main menu soundtrack that for some reason reminds me of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. All the different toys sound as you would expect, and the ones based on actual toys do have their signature sayings.

… a fun game for the most part …
Online/Multiplayer:
Aside from some balancing issues and occasional disconnects, the online game can be fun. Everything apart from the two player local co-op game requires a Uplay account, if you have it then you can access the ranked online game lobby, play the co-op campaign, and enter the weekly war.

The local co-op game splits the screen down the middle and you each take turns attacking or defending. Attackers have to select and send out waves of soldiers and then control their chosen hero on the battlefield. You switch to defending once the waves of enemies have been defeated or manage to reach the toy box. When defending you have to do the exact same thing you would do in the single-player game, some good old tower defence.

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I really enjoyed playing online against Chazz, the matches were easy and had no connection issues or lag. Unfortunately my headset wasn’t charged so I couldn’t talk with Chazz but online is really fun.

The biggest difference in playing the other games in the series solo and Toy Soldiers: War Chest online is having to make a major adjustment in how I approached the game. Normally I just worry about setting up my defenses and playing as the hero, then taking over turrets when my hero was down.

Playing against a human forced me to constantly protect my turrets from Chazz’ constant attacks and not use my hero as much as I would have liked to. This change in strategy really added tension to our matches for me. As his waves were hitting me I would have to constantly go back and forth between upgrading my turrets and repairing them right before they were destroyed, all the while hoping that my money would last through the round.

Even though I lost every match we played I had a blast and my favorite memory of our clashes were from our last match, my Assassin’s Creed vs Chazz’ Starbright. The sight of Ezio slashing his way through waves of fairies and setting rainbow unicorns on fire was hilarious.

My only complaint about the game is that there is not enough armies, though that could be fixed with DLC. I’d love to have Gobots/Macross, some type of plastic figures (either army men or cowboys and Native Americans or knights) and maybe even Playmobil figures (they have a lot of different lines you could pull from) or wrestling figures or 70’s/80s video game characters.

Damon Bullis, PS Nation - @ziatiger
Damon Bullis

Conclusion:
Toy Soldiers: War Chest – Hall of Fame Edition is a fun game for the most part, as long as you are online and Uplay is working, therefore able to play the DLC, unless you are not the person who redeemed the code, in which case you are locked out of the downloadable content anyway. Then there is the high cost of this edition when most people will end up playing with the slightly overpowered G.I. Joe army and let the others gather virtual dust.

Ignoring the issues above I did really enjoy the game and its refreshing take on the tower defence formula where you can get stuck in and take control of almost anything. A sense of nostalgia with the childhood toys is hampered by the inclusion of the Assassin’s Creed army, but some could argue this game is for the kids of today as well.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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