As far as the “nostalgia factor” goes, that same lack of innovation in gameplay extends to the inclusion of the He-Man, Cobra, and GI Joe armies. In fact, it feels like they were only included in this game to help sell it to gamers of my generation. After the initial “I can play with He-Man again?!” feeling wears off, it quickly becomes apparent that these packs (which will cost you $5 a pop or $15 for all of them) are little more than reskins of existing content. The He-Man hero plays similarly to the Darklord hero, Cobra’s turrets are just a slight altering of the Phantom’s, and GI Joe’s bombing run is nothing new. There was an opportunity for Signal and Ubisoft to do something with these licenses and create alternate armies that really made you feel like you were playing with these cherished childhood toys again. Instead, they are little more than another attempt to wrest a few more bucks out of us all.
While the game has its issues, the cooperative gameplay makes up for a fair amount of its shortcomings. The tedium of dredging through yet another wave of enemies is a little better with company, and having another person to man a turret helps move things along a little quicker. Best of all, when you play with a friend, they get to bring their army (with all of its particular turrets and upgrades) to the game. So, if you want to be Cobra and team up with He-Man, you can. This is perhaps the one instance where I got that feeling of playing with my toys again as a kid; reliving those moments when I would bring over my GI Joe, M.A.S.K., or Robo Force figures over to a friend’s house and enact impossible battles betwixt them and some foe.
How that all works out in-game is that any player can use any open turret spot to build one of his/her army’s turrets. Aside from allowing for some mash-ups, it also provides some tactical benefits as one army’s turrets may cover up some weaknesses that are found within another’s arsenal. For instance, I may build Cobra’s anti-infantry turret in one spot because it has a pretty good rate of fire and can be upgraded to use an anti-tank missile, while my co-op partner will build He-Man’s anti-armor turret in another spot because it fires faster than Cobra’s.
Any player can upgrade and take control of any player’s turrets and each player earns their own pool of money to spend from killing foes, thus allowing players to work together to maximize their defenses rather than compete for resources. Each player also earns in-game currency and toy boxes for their army, so everyone walks away with something at the end of it all. The only downside I came across is that the hero figure (i.e., Duke, Cobra Commander, He-Man, Darklord, etc) you can summon after directly killing so many enemy troops is only accessible to the host player. The second player cannot bring forth their champion, unfortunately.
While the first couple iterations of the Toy Soldiers franchise were refreshing takes on the genre, Toy Soldiers: War Chest feels more like an attempt to prey upon the wallets of a particular generation of gamers. There isn’t anything technically wrong or grossly flawed with the overall gameplay, it just doesn’t feel like there’s much there or anything particularly outstanding to keep me coming back for more. Amidst all of that, though, it does manage to have its rare moments where seeing He-Man drop onto the battlefield and shout, “BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!” brings a smile to my face. Watching him fight alongside the canon of Cobra or GI Joe makes the smile increase just a little more.
The Co-Op Experience: You and friends control heroes to defend each toy set.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.