I’m going to start by making a clarification here. This game has been labelled an Action & Adventure game. Action, yes. Adventure, not really. It’s a Tower Defence game. That being said, even though these types of games have been done to death on the mobile platform, it’s not often I’ve played a decent one on a console. They are just the static camera type – place a tower, upgrade it and move on.
This one has a nice twist to it – once you’ve placed a tower, you can take control and fire away at your enemy infantry, armoured troops or the aircraft who are far too accurate with their bombs! With full manual controls you’re able to be much more effective as the range is greater and you can cherry pick that last annoying grunt who’s doing a Usain Bolt for your toy box!
The controls are quite standard, most of the time is spent in a 3rd person view overlooking the arena and there’s the option overhead view which can be used to see a all units and their health. The movement whilst aiming units is a bit sluggish and hitting smaller units from a distance can be tricky. There isn’t much of a story, you start off with a tutorial to get you familiar with the aim of the game, place units in the circles or squares provided to protect your toybox from the enemy. You’re also introduced to the first Hero, Kaiser Willhelm. The tutorial covers most key elements except the special toys. These are a variety of useable units which have a cooldown timer after each use. They range from dragons, to unicorn and tanks to bombers. I missed several chances of using these until I realised they were available.
The first few levels unlocks the other 3 main characters of the game, Phantom, Starbright and Dark Lord. Since it’s a toy soldier-esque game, each character has their own environment and armies. Kaiser has his tanks and a-typical trees and grassland battlefields. Phantom, being futuristic in nature has her walking robots and lasers. Starbright is, well, let’s say there was a twinge of guilt as I gunned down a gummy bear lookalike with my anti-tank cannon. Lastly there’s Dark Lord, your Mr Evil with his legion of minions.
The game makes things more interesting by allowing you to earn points whilst taking control of units, and when your meter is high enough, and to be frank, for me this was very rare. After the last kill the meter will drop pretty quick, I was often unable to string enough kills together to summon my Hero. Once the meter reaches the first option, it would sit at that level so you can attempt to gain the next bonus power. Your Hero will be summoned to the battlefield with super-powered weapons of toy destruction! Be quick though, you only have a limited amount of time which can be extended by collecting batteries.
The controls are straightforward for each unit, simple aim and fire, you can swap weapons to a heavy anti-armour gun with your Hero. Each type of unit can be slightly tweaked in the options menu, personally I had to invert the aim for every unit. It’s nice that it’s not a one-for-all setting since there are special craft you can use per arena.
The game does take a while to load the levels, during which there’s amusing tidbits to read, such as Painting Figure and Putting Out Fire. Unfortunately there’s only a handful of these and they’ll all be read after a few games. More of these would be nice.
Generally the graphics keep the theme quite cartoony, the figures and armoured foes have a reasonable level of detail. Most of the environment such as trees and buildings are destructible, which makes it quite useful to allow your units to fire further than before. During some of the more hectic battles the frame rate suffers really badly which I was surprised about. I wasn’t expecting incredible 60fps but a steady 30 is not much to ask whilst there’s 2 dozen soldiers and a few tanks on the screen.
After each battle is won you’ll be rewarded with tokens. These are used to buy upgrades for your units if you haven’t been fortunate enough to win them in the surprise box you’re awarded with when your Hero levels up. Once I totalled up a few I popped into the Army customisation window to see what fancy new additions I could buy, and to my glee I saw that there are other Hero’s you’re able to play as. There’s the mighty He-Man, the undefeatable G.I. Joe, the maniacal Cobra and sneaky Ezio from Assassin’s Creed.
What I was very disappointed to discover was that these are only unlockable by purchasing them from the marketplace. This was almost an insult, as the first picture portrayed on the Xbox Live Marketplace for War Chest depicts He-Man and Battle Cat. Not only this, but during the single-player campaign there’s a survival level set in the land of Eternia where you fight endless hordes of Skeletor’s goons. On this level you get to drive the infamous Attak-Trak!
This is simply a ploy designed to tease any fan of the game into paying an additional £3.99 per hero, or another £11.99 for all four additional characters and this is simply an unlock. And it doesn’t stop there! There’s an achievement for collecting all the weapons of a single Hero, however one of those weapons can only be purchased with 10 Ubisoft credits. So this achievement is locked behind the necessity of signing up to a 3rd party system, to then earn their credits to spend in the game.
My favourite part about the game though was the music. It’s not a hit score, but it fits the game really well. From the moment the menu started up it enticed me into the game and I feel this was feature which helped to keep me going.
As I mentioned earlier I was in single player campaign, however there are a few multiplayer choices:
- Ranked Game – Compete in a league for best score
- Custom Game – Play 2 player local or 4 player online
- Co-Op Campaign – 2 player only
In addition to this there is the weekly war, a set of daily challenges (but you can do it and catch up on missed days) where each week new goals are created with bonus objectives to achieve. I found that there is a huge variation in difficulty, were talking from a health bar of 95 being left vs 8.
A nice twist on an old style of game. Lots of action per battle, lots of replayability with different landscapes however lack of variety and poor frame rate drags down what could be a fun for all game.
All multiplayer content requires a connected UPlay account.