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Toy Soldiers: Cold War - Napalm

Review: Toy Soldiers: Cold War - Evil Empire & Napalm DLC

5:00 PM on 04.30.2012 // Maurice Tan

The excellent Toy Soldiers: Cold War recently received two pieces of downloadable content in the form of the Soviet-centered "Evil Empire" and the Vietnam-focused "Napalm" expansions. While Toy Soldiers fans will likely want both, each piece of DLC offers slightly different new maps, minigames, and Survival modes to fit your tastes.

If you are short on points, here is what you can expect from each of them.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War - Evil Empire (Xbox Live Arcade)
Toy Soldiers: Cold War - Napalm (Xbox Live Arcade)
Developer: Signal Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Released: April 25, 2012
MSRP: 400 Microsoft Points each

Evil Empire

First up is the "Evil Empire" DLC. Taking control of the USSR in single-player was omitted from the original Toy Soldiers: Cold War, so it's fun to finally get to use this faction outside of multiplayer. Three new campaign missions pit the People's forces of the Evil Empire against the capitalist forces of the United States in hotspots like Korea, Cuba, and Volvograd.

The Soviets have access to a couple of different helicopters, tanks, and a jet fighter in the three missions of the mini-campaign, which are all enjoyable to use even if you'll run out of missiles a lot. A new chopper unit, the Super Hormone, has also been added. The campaign levels themselves play like most of the Toy Soldiers levels you are used to, including a new giant tank boss at the end of the last mission. While each level is different enough to offer variety and plenty of fun, they are pretty basic "protect the rear from the front" kind of defense maps. All in all, the new mini-campaign offers more of the same, when "the same" is pretty good stuff to start with.

Like the regular missions in Toy Soldiers: Cold War, campaign missions can be played either in solitude or cooperatively on three difficulty levels, and on the Elite (turrets require manual control) and General (turrets and vehicles cannot be manually controlled) modes. An extra multiplayer map, Fervor, and a new Survival level, Ironfisted, are thrown into the mix as well as a turret-operated whack-a-mole minigame called Pop-a-Pig. This minigame won't hold your attention for very long, but it's no better or worse than any of the other Cold War minigames.

Other additions affect each aspect of the rest of the game outside of DLC, and these are a bit more interesting for those looking to extend their time with Cold War. A new type of Barrage, the Orbital Laser, can be unlocked for play in any mission. It's exactly what you think; a top-down laser that you can move around the map to lay waste to whatever is unfortunate enough to be below you. Furthermore, a new Survival modifier, Trauma, leads to the cost of one of your toy box's hit points whenever you place a turret, and stresses the importance of careful placement and planning.

"Evil Empire" is a small expansion that benefits largely from your desire to play as the Soviets, with their variations on level-three artillery and anti-air turrets, and the Trauma modifier for Survival maps.

Score: 7.0

Napalm

The "Napalm" DLC is pretty similar to "Evil Empire" with differences in the Survival modifier and the new vehicle. Its mini-campaign is centered on the Vietnam setting for the U.S., meaning you'll be fighting Charlie in every level. Compared to the Soviet level design in "Evil Empire," the levels found here are slightly less conservative in nature. One level sees you covering a distant toy box with artillery, while another features three toy boxes, which leads to separate mini-clusters of defenses to keep each opening safe from intrusion by foreign objects.

It wouldn't be called "Napalm" if you wouldn't be able to bomb the crap out of tanks and infantry with a fighter jet, which is thankfully included in one of the levels. A new Napalm Barrage can be unlocked for use in other parts of the game as well, similar to how the Orbital Laser operates in "Evil Empire." Likewise, an extra Survival map and a Versus multiplayer map are part of the package, and a new vehicle -- the Laser Tank -- is a fun addition.

The Survival modifier in this DLC is Commando. Yes, you can finally play each Survival map using just the Commando, although using this on the "Evil Empire" Survival map leads to a Rambo who spouts Russian one-liners. This modifier doesn't always work quite as well as you would hope for, however, since the Commando is not very good at destroying aircraft. Despite having infinite rockets that quickly reload, you can find yourself overwhelmed merely by being too slow with dispatching aerials targets, as ground waves follow suit in quick succession and you need to cover multiple paths simultaneously.

Compared to the "Evil Empire" Pop-a-Pig minigame, the new one found in "Napalm" is offers much more entertainment. Hang Time is basically Choplifter for Toy Soldiers, making you land to rescue POWs while timing attacks to survive. It can be challenging, and will undoubtedly make you play it longer than Pop-a-Pig. Besides, you can shout "Get to da choppah" while you play it. Not like you need a reason to shout that, but any particular reason to do so  -- no matter how small -- should always be embraced.

"Napalm" will likely offer a few more interesting levels to Toy Soldiers veterans, thanks to the varied designs, and the new minigame will keep you entertained for a fair bit.

Score: 7.5

When it comes to deciding which one you want, "Napalm" seems like the logical choice for most players. That doesn't mean "Evil Empire" isn't good, however. Both DLC expansions are solid and fun to play, even if the missions themselves don't really offer anything drastically new. It's a matter of whether you want to play as the Soviets or not -- mostly an aesthetic change -- and what kind of Survival modifier you prefer. Trauma is somewhat more interesting than Commando, while the latter modifier is slightly more gratifying as long as you have ground targets to blow up.

Overall, both of the small expansions offer good fun in their own right, and the more you are into playing Toy Soldiers: Cold War in different modes and on different difficulties, the more you'll get out of either of them. If you can spare the points, though, consider picking up both packs. Not only do you get more content in one big bite, but the new Barrages and Survival modifiers are complimentary to all of the content, meaning you're that much more likely to play Toy Soldiers: Cold War again for a solid number of hours. The new content won't blow your mind, but if you've been meaning to jump back into this miniature defense title, it's as good a reason as any.



Maurice Tan,
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