Follow thanklessgrind on Twitter

Tempered Basilisk Hides Discovered

XBLA Block Party Preview: Toy Soldiers Sam's avatar
It's time to Kid and Play!
The new kids on the block at this week's XBox Live! party will be Toy Soldiers, described by developers Signal Studios as an 'action-packed strategy-based game' and giving players the ability to control antique World War I figurines in battle for five different maps. Not wanting to commit itself to the conventional boundaries between strategy and action, Toy Soldiers will allow players to order regiments en mass and then dive into any one of over fifty unique units to take matters into their own hands.

The vast arsenals will include tanks, cavalry, biplanes, flamethrower units and zeppelins, all of which have designed to aid players in protecting their base and destroying the enemy within the stage of historically accurate battleground. Sporting both a split-screen and XBox Live! multiplayer modes as well as full achievement support, Toy Soldiers will be available on Wednesday morning for 1200 Microsoft points.

Will Signal Studio's wartime simulator end up shooting down Microsoft's hopes for a successful party or will it end up providing soldiers of good fortune?

Editor Opinions
Sam's avatar

I have to admit that when I first heard about the name and premise of this game, I never expected to be in control of anything other than tacky green soldiers straight out of a plastic moulding machine. Therefore, the stylish panache of Toy Soldiers, evident from the game's trailer, came as a pleasant surprise that has once again raised my level of expectation for XBLA releases.

I'm not sure if it's just because I'm British and therefore in love with the jolly old war days of the early 20th century, but the atmosphere invoked by the audio and visuals in the trailer feels authentic for the period. Of course, I say this as someone who has experience World War I exclusively through The History Channel documentaries, but as the sepia videos and music hall melodies seem to equate between the two, that's enough evidence for me.

Despite working with tin and wood instead of blood and guts, the explosions look satisfying and the graphics themselves aren't too far away from something you'd expect to see in a full retail title. My only worry on this front is that the frame rate seems to suffer when there are a lot of particle effects occurring, although this could just be something to do with the encoding of the video so final judgement will be reserved until I get my hands on the game itself.

What has impressed me the most about Toy Soldiers from the limited information available, is how ambitious Signal Studios are being in trying to fuse a real-time strategy with a 3rd Person Shooter, something that EA tried and failed with, when attempting to develop Command & Conquer: Tiberium. I'm hopeful for this game however, as a reduced scope should allow the mechanics to be kept as simple as possible and the sheer number of units, including that weird full sized cannon thing, ought to provide some longevity to the experience.

What will make or break the success of the game for me though, is something that videos and screenshots can't relay. The quality of the multiplayer experience. The pre-release media has made mention of both split-screen and XBL versus modes, but nothing really of what the battle objectives are. As this game is set to open the door for an XBLA event themed around having fun with friends, the multiplayer elements really need to shine to prevent Toy Soldiers from being the first party poopers.