Toy Soldiers: Cold War Review

Toy Soldiers: Cold War ends the Summer of Arcade with bang

There’s a lot of things people remember about their childhood, whether it be Christmas, the First day of school, watching Saturday morning cartoons or making new friends. One rises above all, and that’s playing with toys. Toys were the biggest source of our entertainment; being able to take them anywhere and have them interact with each other in a separate universe that only made sense to us. Toy Soldiers: Cold War let’s you relive those memories with G.I Joe-esque action figures.

"It's time to kick these tires and light these fires"

In a world where toys come to life, the USA and USSR have had it with arguing and have decided to take each other to physical warfare in the form of an Action-Tower Defense game. Toy Soldiers: Cold War takes from classic, over the top (and cheesy) 80’s action flicks such as, “Top Gun” and “Rambo”. Not only taking the atmosphere and action from them, but also the music. The main menu plays a guitar heavy theme song much like the “Top Gun Anthem” performed by Steven Stevens. Toy Soldiers: Cold War in no way takes itself seriously (well as serious as you can get with living toys). I was initially skeptical going into Cold War but all my worries and troubles were put to rest the moment I gained the ability to use “Commando.” “Commando” was given to me after reaching a certain score multiplier through a reward system called “Barrage.”

"This ones for Jimmy!"

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into as I summoned Commando. I immediately broke into hysterical laughter as an action figure box fell from the sky and a G.I Joe-like Commando came bursting out of the plastic with a Light Machine Gun in one hand and Bazooka in the other; sporting a Rambo look. I found my self mowing down countless Russians while hearing Commando yell out things like “Now that’s what I call SEARCH AND DESTROY!” and “You want a war?! You got a war!”. His use timer eventually ran out and I expected to be sad for the rest of the mission, but I was wrong. I kept having a great time all the way through to the ending of the campaign. Luckily you always have a shot at getting Commando through “Barrage,” along with the many other rewards such as Nuclear Strike and an AC-130.

The campaign of Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a short but sweet one. It takes about 4-5 hours to complete but it’s enough to keep you engaged and you really don’t mind that you’re always doing the same thing. You must stop the USSR from invading your toy box with your arsenal of defense turrets such as a mounted Machine Gun, Anti-Aircraft turret, Artillery turret, Anti-Tank missiles, etc; You are able to take control of each unit. You also can also control vehicles like a Heavy Tank, Apache Helicopter and a fighter jet. The vehicle controls have seemed to be vastly improved. Each unit has a maximum of three upgrades; each one adding a new feature to the weapon. Each enemy you gun down gives you money; you must use the money to buy, upgrade and repair units. The real charm of Toy Soldiers lies in the levels, the campaign will take you to VHS, rubber ducky, key-tar infested versions of Mount Rushmore, Egypt, Russia and Vietnam. At the completion of each level, you unlock new upgrades and two other difficulties.

An example of the brilliant level design

Once you’ve completed Cold War’s campaign, you can take your skills to the other gameplay modes available. Like traditional Survival Mode and an assortment of mini-games. A few of the mini-games are just rehash of a scenario in the tutorial but the others make up for it. Unfortunately the replayability of these modes is very limited; I got tired of Survival and the mini games fairly quick. There are decorations to collect through campaign by completing certain challenges; which kept me on the campaign for a while. But ultimately I was done with single player after a few days.

The multiplayer of course is what keeps you glued to this title. It’s like having a friend over playing with your toys and you’re battling each other, but with explosions and gun fire. It uses the essential tower defense gameplay of the campaign, while allowing you to send out waves of troops and vehicles to attack your opponents toy box. Each unit placed as defense and each unit used to attack costs money, so it’s interesting to manage your funds while your enemy is sending waves of foes your way. Campaign and Survival mode are also playable through co-op, letting you and a friend survive the invasion of the USSR together.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War is easily one of the better Xbox Live Arcade titles released this year. Splendidly blending the action genre, and tower defense genre with an 80’s action flick back drop. It reminds us all of the simpler times, where we all had time to play with toys. The lack of single player content and short campaign are a bit of a draw back, but not enough to stop you from playing. The multiplayer will be enough to keep playing for hours on end, along with the co-op. Enlist today on XBLA for 1200MS ($15).



  • Great blend of action, and tower defense
  • Addictive multiplayer
  • Borrows elements and music from cheesy 80’s action flicks


  • Short campaign
  • Limited single player content
  • Where were these toys when we grew up?!

Score: 5/5

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About Erik Rodriguez

Erik is an Associate Editor at Empty Lifebar and former co-host of the Restless Gamers podcast. A huge fan of Star Wars and Western RPGs, Erik is always ready to poison food in an Elder Scrolls game and believes he is one with the force.