Recently played (not fully completed yet): Toy Soldiers
System: XBox 360 - Arcade
Story: It's WWI!!!! It's Toys!!! It's Tower Defense!!!
Ok, I seriously didn't expect to love this title, I've wasted many hours playing tower defense games and the concept is pretty "bleh" by this point. But a couple week ago the demo for this new XBox Arcade game came out and I downloaded it because I am completely a demo whore. After a few plays of the demo I downloaded the full game and I have to say this is one of the XBox Live arcade games that's been well worth the money.
What I liked:
Fun concept. You play WWI through the filter of having a box of soldier toys. All the fun and carnage is there; from artillery to gas to mortars to machine guns and trenches. Good wholesome fun for the whole family. The "tower" you're defending is your toy box and you buy and place your units in standard tower defense fashion.
It's 3-D. The real twist comes into the fact that you can select any unit on the battlefield and control it. Kills you make with a controlled unit will give you various income bonuses so it's in your best interest to do so. And in fact player control is the only way to get the tank and airplane units on the playing field at all.
The dogfights are kickass fun.
The tank battles are also kickass fun (and the tanks have windup keys sticking out them.)
Lot's of missions for your money. The British campaign has 12 or 13 missions, once you beat it you unlock the german campaign which is 12 or 13 more missions. And the missions are nicely varied, some focus on air combat, some tank combat, some address everything and a few even have "boss battles" where you'll face oversized tanks, dirigibles and mobile rail cannons. I like variety and the steady progression of unlocking new units and changing up the encounters was very nice.
Multiplayer: Both online and split screen. It has a very nice mutliplayer mode. It features 5 maps but the real variety here is you can change up win conditions and even which units are playable during the battle. You control both your defense and your offense, selecting what your next wave of attack will be much like you select what unit you will place. An element of timing is important here because you launch waves of infantry for free every few minutes.
Replayability: In addition to the two campaigns (the Germans are reffered to as Campaign+ by the game.) you also have a nice set of achievements including two that unlock avatar clothes (I get excited about the free ones, I refuse to pay reall money for fake clothing). After beating each level you unlock elite mode for that level. Elite is not your standard tower defense. On casual, normal and even hardm all of your units, even ones you don't directly control, keep shooting and engaging enemies that enter their range. On elite the only way to engage the enemy is to do it yourself. It's very challenging but you get nice shiny medals unlocked for each level you beat on elite. You also get achievements for beating levels with a general rank (no units made it to your toy box) and for unlocking the ration tickets. What are ration tickets? Each mission (including the Campain+) will have a "bonus" objective which will unlock an item for your kit. From aspirin to toliet paper and everything in between, you get items unlocked complete with the WWI period slang term for it. Like bum fodder and char. (Toliet paper and tea respectively.) The bonus objectives are semi challenging and usually fun (snipe 3 soldiers with one bullet, blow up 25 or more soldiers or more with one explosion) I've been told that some of the ration ticket unlocks in Campaign+ are hellishly hard but I haven't gotten that far in yet. And oh yea, after you beat the British campaign you also unlock survival mode, which is retardedly difficult.
Graphics: The graphics are much better than I would have expected from a downloadable arcade game and the animations for the "toys" are great. They are stylisiticaly stiff and awkward at times and explode into bits of plastic instead of bloody chunks but overall it's very satisfying graphically.
Cool stat tracking: It's fun to see how well you performed post mission and with stats "highest flying soldier from shell blast" you can't go wrong. (I haven't broken 700 feet yet but it's been close...)
Things I didn't like:
The load times: The load screens are nicely detailed but da-YUM you spend a lot of time staring at them. For a game that's loaded onto the Hard Drive with no disc reading involved I can't fathom why the load times are so long for this. It boggles the mind.
The "picklehaub" avatar clothing unlock: Yea, I know I listed this in the things I liked but... I like the concept not the execution. Who is going to wear a helment that makes your avatar bald AND that you can't wear sunglasses with? I don't know how they fucked up a simple concept like an avatar helmet but they did. The gas mask is cool though.
The limited soundtrack: I put this one in here because every time you pause the game the music keeps going... and if you're out of the room doing something else and left the TV volume up it will drive you insane. Closely related is the fact that the main menu screen has a variety of about three or four songs but no matter long it is up it will only loop ONE. This will also drive you insane if left running for any length of time whilst you are otherwise occupied.
Overall: Overall I would say if you like RTS and/or tower defense you'll enjoy this one. I have mediocre fandom for either and I like it quite a bit. I've spent a good 12-15 hours playing it and still plan on going back to get the rest of my ration tickets just because I'm a completist like that. What else can I say, it's fun. Bottom line, this is the one of the very few arcade games I've honestly thought was priced fairly. It's fun and it has satisfying content and variety.