I first saw a video for this a long time ago. It may even have been as long ago as E3. I thought it looked like the scenes I had always held in my head whilst playing with those little green and brown plastic-moulded army men on my bedroom floor. Except in Toy Soldiers there are no enormous muscled He-Man characters acting as heavy units for the green side and the browns have a distinct lack of Transformers on their team.
The premise is fairly simple, you play as one side and you have to prevent waves of enemies from hitting whatever it is that you’re defending. At its core, it seems to be a kind of tower defence game. You place defensive installations at key points on the map and hope they will keep the waves at bay. You could, I was told, play the whole game in this way, as a kind of RTS, but it would be nightmarishly difficult. The game is made in a way that encourages you to place your installations and then swoop in to control them and take a more direct hand in the actual combat.
I controlled howitzers and mortars as well as the heavy machine gun and later, when I’d relinquished control, I saw someone else flying a plane. I was instantly envious. There seems to be a fair amount to discover and a lot of tools in your toy box. The whole experience is slightly overwhelming at first but you soon relax into it and the controls start to come naturally.
There is an optional (button-hold) “shell-cam” which allows you to alter the flight of your shells and mortars mid-flight and direct them with pin-point accuracy onto the heads of unsuspecting enemies. It’s the sort of small touch that makes the game feel like a more complete package.
With regards to multiplayer, it’s head to head only ( 2-player) but that is local or over Live so you can wage war against friends across the globe. This seems like the sort of game that would be great for multiplayer with plenty of scope for infuriating last-minute mortar strikes or sneaky bombing runs.
In terms of performance, the game is ready to go and will be launching the Block Party event on Xbox Live this March (3rd) so it was the finished product I was playing. Everything was smooth and easily controlled and there were no immediately visible issues I could see. It was actually fairly impressive, graphically. Nothing that is going to worry the huge blockbuster releases but still, nicely textured, well lit and smooth graphics make any game-play more satisfying.