Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is fun little isometric squad based twin-stick shooter that has you controlling one (or two to four depending on the mission) miniature army men across dozens of levels. Joint Ops is a collection that contains both Tiny Troopers that made their debut first on mobile platforms, and has now been ported to just about every other platform. It’s a trend that has started to become fairly prominent in the last few years, and the results have been fairly mixed. Throughout the fifty-eight levels contained in this collection you’ll eliminate enemy terrorists, destroy key buildings, rescue hostages, escort journalists, fight to survive, and eliminate key targets. Is this game worth it on consoles, or should this have stuck to its original mobile platform?
Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Developer: Epiphany Games
Publisher: Wired Productions
Release Date: 26 February 2016
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
There isn’t much of a story in Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops. You play as a soldier in a war, and you’re tasked with doing several things to stop the opposing organization from enacting their evil plans. These include destroying buildings that contain nuclear weapons, blowing up chemical weapons, and finding and killing the enemy leader. Each act in the campaign begins and ends with a cutscene that is drawn in panels with word bubbles much like a comic book, and there is a bit of voiceover for the dialogue. These very brief scenes do just enough to explain what it is you’re doing there but does little to tell much of a story beyond that.
The gameplay in Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is fairly simple to anyone who has played the classic game Cannon Fodder, or just about any twin-stick shooter before. Players control one to four different soldiers simultaneously and guide them through each of the fifty-eight levels completing specific objectives and then escaping to safety afterwards. You move with the left stick while aiming/firing with the right stick. You can’t control the individual soldiers separately, so you’re simply moving them and shooting enemy targets in unison. It works for the most part, except for the occasional annoyance where one soldier can get stuck in a bush or door making it a bit difficult to maneuver him out.
The majority of the missions involve you infiltrating the enemy base, killing off all the soldiers, and returning to the rendezvous helicopter to escape once you finish your objective. There are other objectives thrown in occasionally to mix up the gameplay such as finding and destroying certain buildings and vehicles, escorting and protecting journalists, surviving for a while in a set position, or on-rail vehicle sections where you are simply controlling a turret. While players will be spending the vast majority of their time firing their standard assault rifles, other weapons such as grenades and rocket launchers can be picked up from enemy soldiers or purchased at the shop, which are then dropped as care packages.
After each mission your soldiers rank up, giving them more health. If one of your solider falls in battle, he’s gone for good for the rest of the mission. You are able to revive him after the mission if you have enough medals, otherwise he’ll be gone for good for the rest of the game. It’s normally a good idea to fork out the medals to save your soldier, especially if he is one that has ranked up several levels after completing many missions. Additionally, you’ll be able to spend your credits to level up all your soldiers in various ways such as increasing their damage, improving their accuracy, increasing their firing rate as well as movement speed.
On top of all the campaign missions included in the bundle, Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops also offers a zombie mode which is essentially an endless survival mode where the goal is to survive for as many waves as possible while accumulating as many points in the meantime. Much like in zombie modes in other games, the waves become increasingly difficult as the number of zombies increase, their health and damage increases, and more speciality zombies are brought in at later waves. These include ranged zombies that fire a projectile, and a giant tank-link zombie that slams the ground sending shockwaves if you’re close enough. It’s a nice change of pace from the main game, and the inclusion of online leaderboards that tally your best wave/score gives a chance for bragging rights towards your friends and people all over the world. Needless to say, there are a lot of content in this little package.
Despite having a graphical upgrade on consoles, Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops still looks and plays like a mobile game. The short length for every campaign missions feels better suited for gaming on the phone during short commutes rather than a home console experience. Certain textures look quite blocky and low resolution while the water itself is particularly bland and seemingly out of place at times. The cute and quirky design of the soldiers themselves fit the games aesthetic quite well however, and the bullets are bright and colorful which helps players identify and strafe around them.
Given the mobile origins of the original games, it’s difficult to fault Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops much for looking and playing too much like a game that should be played on the phone rather than on a console. The bundle includes two games that while short in terms of length for each individual mission, still manages to offer hours of entertainment for newcomers of the series. The ranking and leveling mechanic makes players more invested in their troopers and ensuring their survival, while the game offers enough variety in the campaign missions that it never feels too repetitive or monotonous when played in short bursts. Zombie mode rounds out this sensibly priced package, which can offer countless hours of entertainment for those who strive for leaderboard supremacy. As it stands, Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is an enjoyable shooter for anyone who have not yet played the first two games on mobile platforms.