Chillingo's latest Tiny Troopers game aims high.
Gamers of a certain age will be immediately reminded of two old classics when they play Chillingo's new title Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops. There's the squad control and assault gameplay of Sensible Software's fantastic Cannon Fodder, and then there's more than a small dose of the squeaky-voiced, daft humor found in Team17's Worm series.
You control your squad of soldiers by tapping wherever you wish them to travel on the scrolling map. Tap on an enemy and the team will take shots at him, whittling down his health until the threat is eliminated. Destructible scenery such as buildings and landmines can be taken out by drawing a line between your grenade and rocket stash and the target. When it comes to avoiding ranged counter-attacks yourself, a vertical swipe sends your troops to the ground.
While the basic gameplay is solid enough, what really makes the game so much fun is the variety of missions on offer. There are four themed stages with around eight levels in each - in one, you might have to release hostages, while in another you'll have to disable a nuclear device within a fixed time limit. It can be frantic stuff in these latter missions, and you'll need to maintain a close balance between acquiring currency and explosive weaponry, and clearing the main objective of the map.
More exciting still are the survival modes that take place on smaller maps, where you'll have to simply survive a steadily increasing onslaught of enemy forces. Fancy something a little more wantonly destructive? The most delightful maps place you in charge of an incredibly powerful tank that automatically rolls through the streets, while you concentrate on heavy fire against enemies and exploding canisters.
As you progress through these missions you'll acquire two different kinds of currencies - medals and game cash. Both are used to unlock various upgrades for your troops, some cosmetic and some that confer a real advantage on the battlefield, such as increased fire range and accuracy. There is a currency cash store associated with this paid-for game, but we don't think you'll have any trouble building a fighting force by repeating missions. Let's just say that those who prefer not to spend more money on the game will want to focus on creating a long-range, agile force in the early days.
The only real complaint we have about Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops is that the difficulty curve is a bit erratic. Regardless of the difficulty setting you choose, missions can range from being a little too easy to overwhelmingly tricky in the blink of an eye. Whether that's a nudge towards the cash store for some much-needed upgrades, or a question of balancing, we've no way of saying. It doesn't take too much of a shine off things at all though, and some of the missions are so much fun you'll be quite happy to replay them for cash and medals.
With its nods to gaming classics of yesteryear, Special Ops really is a blast. It's not a full-blooded action title, and it certainly doesn't have the depth of a traditional RTS, but it does lie somewhere happily between the two, occupying its own little niche. Put simply, it's an awful lot of fun, and that's as much as anyone can ask for.
What's Hot:Fantastic mission variety, great controls and some very fun upgrades to work towards
What's Not:The difficulty curve can be a little frustrating.