Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops Review
They say that the first casualty of war is innocence, but in the case of Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops, that isn’t entirely true. In this instance, the first casualty was some unlucky recruit who didn’t realise that pressing the right trigger caused a bazooka to be fired at his feet, meaning a totally accidental flick of the trigger led to a permanently dead trooper and a long slog back through an unskippable tutorial… It wasn’t a good start, and it didn’t get better.
Tiny Troopers is a twin sticker, squad-based shooter that gives you no actual control over your squad, or the micro-management of said squad; a glaring oversight to say the least. Controlling your entire squad at once in a twin stick shooter is a novel idea, but it feels sloppy and ill-advised in practice, as the geometry of certain levels can lead to half your squad getting stuck behind a rock, leaving them as a sitting duck for the approaching enemy.
As for the shooting, Tiny Troopers uses an auto-aim system that targets the enemy you point the right stick at, though the targeting doesn’t seem to distinguish between friend or foe, leading to a large number of civilians being killed in the crossfire… Just like a real war then, really. Still, it’s hard not to feel dejected when the game starts punishing you for its own rubbish targeting system.
The game feels sluggish and imprecise in the early going purely because your starting squad is crap. Barn doors up and down the land would have no fear of being struck by these diminutive drones, and they’d struggle to win a footrace against a sloth, a snail and a tortoise. How they make it past basic training is a mystery.
To the game’s credit, however, there is an upgrade system that sees surviving soldiers earn promotions, along with a credits currency which you can use to purchase upgrades after missions. To see your troops go from hopeless rookies to super soldiers feels good, and the four difficulty levels allow you to pick the challenge that feels right for you.
The problem is, you could just pick the easiest difficulty and still get the same reward as someone playing on the top difficulty, which is odd. In fact, the game uses a score multiplier system, with chained kills leading to higher multipliers and more credits. On the lower difficulties, you can consistently reach 4x multiplier and just grind credits by slaying enemies that are dumber than the average zombie. Or, alternatively, you could just jump into the zombies mode itself.
Granted, the zombies portion of Tiny Soldiers is probably the best part, as the screen fills with bullets, bedlam and hordes of the undead. It’s a power trip for the player, as you’re given the best soldiers and lots more explosive ordnance, yet also a challenge as you try to suppress the sheer hordes of the undead. It’s frantic, fast paced, even fun to an extent, and it just serves to highlight how dull and dreary the rest of the game truly is.
With drab landscapes and character designs, poorly implemented controls and two full campaigns of below average shooting, Tiny Troopers is a tough game to recommend. At least it has some easy gamerscore, if that’s your thing.
Tiny Troopers is available from the Xbox Store from today, for £7.99. Check out the gameplay video below, and let us know in the comments whether you agree or disagree.
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