When I reviewed Toy Soldiers: Cold War, I awarded it a score of 9 out of 10, stating that ‘if the real Cold War could have been this much fun, then I’m sure you would have had plenty of people clamouring to push the big red button’. Thankfully, no-one has yet seen fit to bring about nuclear armageddon, and so developer Signal Studios has had the opportunity to release a pair of DLC packs for the game, in the form of ‘Evil Empire’ and ‘Napalm’. This review covers the content of the ‘Evil Empire’ pack, so put on your Ushanka and pour yourself a glass of Vodka.
Turncoat - Evil Empire offers something not particularly original in strategy games, but amusing nonetheless: taking control of the enemy’s forces. This brings with it new units and barrages, some of which feel more worthwhile than others. You still have access to the same basic defences, such as machine guns, artillery, anti-air and mortars, and most of these are given barely more than a fresh lick of paint in new colours. When you start upgrading them, however, you start to see some changes. Machine gun nests become rapid-fire shotgun emplacements, and your artillery becomes ICBMs. Orbital lasers are now available as part of the barrage bonus system, as is ‘Ivan’, the Soviet version of the American commando.
Playing Soldiers - Whilst Evil Empire isn’t afforded the same space to spread its humour as the main Toy Soldiers game, there are certain instances that will have you chuckling, such as the giant rubber ducks taking part in a beach assault, and the over-sized bottles of vodka lying carelessly amongst battlefields (although considering how Toy Soldiers is supposed to be set in a boy’s bedroom, how did he get access to vodka? Better parenting is needed I think).
TAKE ME HOME!
Shortest War in History - Evil Empire isn’t a huge expansion upon the original game, as it only offers three extra levels. Each is fairly long (a little too long at times), but you’ll still find yourself finishing up the extra campaign in an hour/hour and a half tops. It would have been nice to have perhaps a couple of extra smaller levels, with some of the levels already offered streamline slightly.
History Repeating - Aside from the last level offered in the campaign, which takes part in snowy Russia, most of the Evil Empire expansion is filled with stuff you’ve seen before. The environments and gameplay are much the same as you’d have experienced in the main campaign, and whilst these aren’t bad by any means, it would have been nice to see something new.
The Evil Empire expansion for Toy Soldiers: Cold War is pretty much more of the same for those who’ve played the core game, and whilst this isn’t a bad thing, DLC packs are often an opportunity to try something new, and that is an opportunity I feel has been missed here. Sure, some of the new units are good fun to use, and the Toy Soldiers gameplay is as good as it was last year, but the excitement of hearing the Soviets would be awarded their own campaign wasn’t really matched by the campaign itself. If you’re desperate for more Toy Soldiers action then pick this up, but if you’ve already moved on to other things, on its own Evil Empire isn’t worth coming back to Toy Soldiers for.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*