It’s not often I play RTS games, only because I haven’t touched one since the good old days of Age of Empires II when having more than 256MBs of RAM was just for the rich. Now it’s almost 13 years later and I find myself on a computer that could use its resources to render high definition videos for productive work, but instead plunder the net for HD porn and Tiny Troopers. Tiny Troopers is a mix of RTS and Action Shooter by Kukouri Mobile Studios. The premise is to beat levels and continue on as the difficulty escalates. The steam version is a port of the game originally created for IOS and Droid devices later in 2012. Though the RTS genre hasn’t been my cup of tea for a while now, Tiny Troopers is easily a starting point in getting the feel of commanding your troops to their deaths and escorting idiot reporters.
In traditional RTS games you’ll be commanding various troops, building up your camp or base, and even getting resources to create guns, armor, and utilities that will help you win the day. Tiny Troopers on focuses on one group of soldiers and you won’t be doing any building, but rather a lot of shooting; A LOT. There aren’t classes for your permanent soldiers that you’ll keep throughout the campaign, but special ones you can buy for one mission that have specialized abilities like healing, rapid fire attacks, and some even come with items like rockets. Why would you not pick the guy that comes with the rockets?
Right off the bat I suggest going to the tutorial mode to get the feel of the controls, as you will be clicking for your country in this game as well as dodging bullets. Gameplay wise, you can see this game was aimed at the mobile market. The controls, tactics, and overall gameplay is very simple, and can be picked up just from the first and second levels easily. The first nitpick I had was the controls, left click to move while right click is to shoot felt odd, and my keyboard hand had only one button to press most of the time (which was Ctrl) for alternate equipment use. Luckily the folks over at Kukouri Mobile added the feature to change controls to your typical WASD format for PC and mouse clicks dedicated for firing. Kudos, sir.
That wasn’t the only issue with controls, however. Even after going through the tutorial level there was no indication of a rapid fire by holding your mouse button. I went through the tutorial stating you press the button to “burst”, but it wasn’t clear that it was press and HOLD. Once I found myself holding the button to shoot, the difficulty of the game deceased as fast as this economy (Oh Snap!).
Once the wall of control problems was destroyed, I found the game to actually be engaging. Mind you, this is in a simple way; you have a list of things to do, now go do them to progress. Repetition is the name of the game. It’s kill that guy and meet me here, or protect these reporters by killing those guys and then meet me here. That basically sums up the gameplay in its entirety, and for this game it isn’t a bad thing.
The few different objectives are there to break up the repetition, but that in itself becomes repetition. I seem like a broken record talking about Tiny Troopers coming from mobile gaming, but that means it was originally designed for the casual gamer market to occupy your time. Not to take away from the game, it is very well done. The gameplay is there and the level design was done very well, but you can see there are corners cut because of the market it was intended for.
Since Tiny Troopers was originally created for the mobile device market the graphics stayed within the parameters of that technology. At the same time, mobile gaming has drastically upgraded its looks and being ported to Steam has only added to the visuals. Nothing too dramatic but all the textures (as simple as they may be) show great detail and time dedicated to achieve its look. Light reflects where it should and even explosion particles look very well done. The animations of the characters are very smooth, even for the simplicity of their design. Each character has their own personality just by the face, so it gives them identity; not to mention the randomized name as well. Sand is the pro-dominate texture since the war is somewhere between the Sahara and a forest with rivers and trees all over.
Sound and music are things that are very key elements in games; it can make a game seem like a heaven sent, or just a terrible non-immersive game that is just crap to focus on. Tiny Troopers hits both sides of that coin. The title and menu screens use marching music to put you in the right frame of mind. Once you have your squad set you are dropped off into battle to a resounding nothing. There is no sound what so ever in the gameplay and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This subtraction actually added a lot of immersion for the game because now I had to listen for my enemies.
The camera is always positioned on your character, and due to this you have to be observant of your environment because enemies will appear from your blind spots. If I’ve been shot at or if the gears turning from a distance are from a possible tank, I had to pay attention or else my soldiers would be dead meat. This is war. There isn’t anything playing in the background to make you badass when you kill an enemy. “Shut up and listen” is what the game tells you. The sounds of the characters voices would also steer you in a weird way.
When you kill or get killed, the cries of pain almost seem horrifying as they lay down in a pool of there own blood. It doesn’t help when the sounds of your tactically trained soldiers are close to a small child. Sometimes the characters talking would take a little immersion out when you hear a child say “Stay Frosty!” as a badass soldier but then when getting hit cries “Mommy!” The atmosphere of sounds gets yanked like a tug of war rope in the emotions of the brain, back and forth until the blood soaked destructive level ends and all is happy again.
Tiny Troopers’ gameplay, though simple, was engaging to the end. You have your squad and you have an objective, it’s pretty cut and dry. The presentation, while a misstep or two in the sound, it did what it needed to do. Engaging until the end where you receive your medal for your work (Spoilers, gasp!) the immersion didn’t let up. The difficulty does go up at a pace, sometimes a bit too slow but that’s why you can play it again on an even higher difficulty. It does the mobile market justice, and as a PC port it’s a noble attempt. Unfortunately it seems short and lacking in variety. Since now on Steam the developers had the opportunity to expand it and use ideas that were probably left out, but it’s just a port. March your soldiers to go kill a bunch of guys, and protect idiot reporters to film you killing them. MERICA!