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Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops

Score: 68%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Wired Productions
Developer: Epiphany Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Arcade/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is aptly named, since it "joins" the original Tiny Troopers and its successor Tiny Troopers 2 in one master version, plus a Zombie and Spec Ops Mode. Itís pretty much the definitive version of the game up to this point, which might leave hardcore console gamers wondering where all this content originated. The answer is in mobile gaming, where the Tiny Troopers franchise has been building steam for a few years now. If you have a mobile device that you arenít keeping hidden under a rock, youíve probably played one of these games at some point.

If Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops looks and sounds familiar to fans of the franchise, itís because the content is ported over with very few changes from mobile. This means youíre only getting a shred of the true power of your console, not because this is a retro game, but because it was built for smaller screens and smaller processors. Think of this as the Wii U-ification of your Xbox OneÖ If you like casual games, youíll enjoy the presentation. Itís very stripped down, but completely playable. In the spirit of most mobile games, this is meant to be lightweight entertainment that you can sit down and enjoy with no ramp-up, so the emphasis is on gameplay rather than sophisticated graphics or controls.


Gameplay:

The biggest surprise here is that Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is a single-player game. It looks and feels like a co-op twin-stick shooter youíd jump into with a friend, the kind weíve played many great examples of over the years. The single-player limitation is disappointing, but itís true to the original mobile gameplay. Thereís no question that the whole experience would have been greatly improved by multiplayer, but weíll just leave it at that. If youíre okay with playing solo, the good news is that thereís a lot of gameplay contained here. There are two full games, plus additional content in the form of extra modes like Zombie Survival Mode.

Each level in the main game challenges you to complete an objective that usually revolves around blowing something up or rescuing hostages. Youíll also find objects scattered around levels, mostly grenades or missiles that make it easier and quicker to blow up buildings and troops to accomplish your task. You can also outfit soldiers with higher-powered equipment as you play through the game, strengthening armor and weapons permanently, or buying special items for one-time use. Upgrades are available with new uniforms that can lend troops special abilities. Not all troops are available on all missions, but if a soldier survives a mission, he has a chance to level up and gain some toughness.


Difficulty:

There are multiple difficulty settings in Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops that you can choose for each level, ranging from Easy-Breezy to Ultra Hard. Safe to say that casual gamers will have just the experience they want, or you can turn a few hours of gameplay into days or weeks. The main things that influence toughness are enemy numbers and health levels, which you can gradually offset by upgrading your troops as mentioned before. Itís nice that the uniform upgrades (courtesy of the "Special Ops" content) cater to specific types of gameplay. One uniform helps you gain more XP or rewards, while another helps you deal more damage. All these come at a cost, which prompts you to run missions with the highest multiplier possible, or even replay them in search of higher priced upgrades. The zombie action in Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is the kind youíre ultimately supposed to lose; itís a matter of how long you can stay alive. Each time you survive a wave, you gain some firepower, but at some point even your best efforts are to no avail.

Game Mechanics:

The controls in Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops seem only minimally updated for the move to console and were a frequent point of frustration. Itís funny how weíve complained over the years about virtual joysticks on mobile devices and said how much we preferred the real thing. Now weíre playing mobile games on consoles and the actual joysticks donít feel much better than the virtual kind. Troop movement is controlled with one stick, while the other stick aims and fires. Because youíre controlling multiple troops around obstacles, one occasionally gets split off from the rest, but always catches up. Little glitchy aspects of the game like this are an annoyance, but hardly a deal-breaker.

If youíre looking for light entertainment, youíll definitely find it in Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops. Itís a nice way to kill some time and the simple objectives and difficulty settings make it possible to feel like a hero every time you play. This is the draw for new players, where established fans of the franchise will most likely be excited to play on the larger screen. Whatever your motivation, just come with reasonable expectations and youíll find something to like here.


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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