Back in 2010, Signal Studios released their quirky Tower Defense game Toy Soldiers, giving players the ability to "play war" with toys that seem to come to life. We rather liked it, enjoying the combination of quirky presentation, innovation, and high production values. What you have here, then, is the sequel - the same basic game premise, now taking place between 80s-era toy soldiers. There are a few improvements and tweaks, however the core game will surprise few that played the original - so feel free to decide whether this is for you based on your experiences with that game.
Still here? Good. Let's take a moment and describe the basic game for newcomers. There's an enemy at the far end of the playfield (or diorama, given the toy soldiers premise), and they're going to attack you in waves. You can't attack their base, so all you can do is prepare defenses and destroy their units before they reach your base. If too many get through, your base runs out of health and you lose. To make things achievable, the enemy will attack along proscribed (and obvious) paths, however you can only place your defense on special pre-placed pads, so you need to think about what you use and where.
One of the key improvements over the original is the ability to take control of vehicles like helicopters and tanks, which feature in some levels. You'll need to regularly pickup batteries if you want to keep them alive, otherwise you have to wait for them to respawn, and - unlike turrets, etc - they don't do anything unless you're in control. Smart use of vehicles, then, can make all the difference in the outcome of a given level. They're also a blast to play, feeling in no way tacked-on. The battery mechanic both allows them to wield awesome power and prevents them from being overpowered as a result.
Another big change - and in practice, improvement - is the ability to earn a special "barrage" move as a result of prowess when taking direct control of a turret. These barrages, essentially earned by scoring combos, allow you to deploy special attacks (like free artillery barrages) or unique units (like the human-controlled and heavily-armed commando - complete with Arnie-like quips of dialogue). It's a cool mechanic and again, keeps you thinking about how best to approach a situation.
There's no perfect way to approach combat either, which keeps the game interesting from beginning to end and ensures that there's replay value for those that want to dive back in to pick up on any of the medals or achievements they may have missed first time through. It also provides incentive to jump into the competitive multiplayer mode, where you can see how other people approach things to further refine your techniques or demonstrate some new options as how best to tackle a given situation.
The competitive multiplayer mode spices things up by giving you the ability to spend your cash, which you earn by killing enemies, on waves that attack your enemy instead of just defending against their waves. Not only is it loads of fun in practice, with loads of strategtic opportunity, it's probably the best implementation of a real-time strategy game yet seen on a console - albeit entirely Player vs. Player.
It's not all awesome, of course, with little quirks here and there that remove a little of the shine from the experience. Sometimes it's not clear where the enemy is coming from, you wish for a minimap, or you struggle with the camera to figure out what's going on. They're very, very minor issues, but they do niggle a little from time to time and never really go completely away.
But if you like the sound of playing a game of soldiers, like a little tower defense, or want to see the best ever implementation of the genre in a multiplayer setting, Toy Soldiers: Cold War is definitely the game for you. It's fun, looks and sounds great, has loads of content, and integrates very well with your friends lists and the leaderboard system.
It is, in a word, awesome.