Thursday, December 21, 2017

Review: Tiny Troopers Joint Ops XL [ Nintendo Switch eShop ]


If you’ve read a fair number of my reviews for games on the Switch you’ll know I’m a massive fan of twin-stick shooters. For me ever since Robotron in the arcades I’ve never been able to get enough of the thrill of evading enemy fire and blowing everything around me away. When I saw the first news on Tiny Troopers Joint Ops XL I was then intrigued and a bit excited, the additional note that there were zombie modes in the game was an added plus as well. How well does it deliver on its promise? I think that boils down to your level of experience with the genre and your preferences.


Troopers is essentially a squad-based game where you’ll take your troopers through a variety of missions into enemy territory. Most of them, of course, involve blowing things up real good. Thankfully there’s some variety thrown in though with an occasional escort or survival mission as well as a few that have you working as the gunner in a moving armored vehicle for a little extra flavor. Between missions you’ll have an option to upgrade the attributes of your squad members (highly recommended), buy some alternative gear, or essentially recruit mercenaries of various kinds to assist you in missions that may be a little out of your league at the moment.

The action itself is where the game will likely either attract or alienate people. Unlike the much higher-intensity shooters from the likes of 10 Tons already on the platform the pacing of Troopers is decidedly slower. Everything moves at about half speed and for a veteran like me it tended to be frustrating. You’ll still need to be smart and use flanking and circle strafing to try to pick off enemies without letting your squad get hit, and this can be challenging, I just would have preferred the action playing out more quickly. The levels are generally pretty large and to get bonus points and collect everything you’ll want to thoroughly scour every corner you can. Again, though, with the rate of movement this can be a bit more tedious than I would have preferred. The aforementioned zombie levels are a nice addition but where something like the Zombie Rush mode brings, for me, an expectation of frantically trying to survive while mowing down hordes of zombies the gameplay is far more sedate and, for me, a bit dull.


Not meaning this as too much of an insult and instead as an observation the mobile roots of the game are simply too prevalent given the quality and pacing of shooters already on the platform. First you have the cost of upgrades in the game and the ridiculously expensive alternative uniforms that are much better understood in the context of paid microtransactions and/or grinding. Then you have the more casual overall style of action and play from a space where people need to slow things down because they don’t necessarily have dedicated controllers, or at least good ones. All of that said, if there are people more familiar with the mobile space or that find the current collection of shooters on the Switch to be too intense this could also be music to their ears.

In the end Troopers offers a fair amount of content that will likely have its fans, it’s just that those people are probably not the same ones who enjoy the more intense examples of the genre already on the Switch. There’s fun to be had here and across the multiple campaigns in the game you’ll be asked to survive a fair variety of mission types even if most are just asking you to shoot things ultimately. If you’re down for a slower-paced and enjoy getting a chance to blow some stuff up, and don’t mind doing a bit of grinding along the way, Tiny Troopers Joint Ops XL may be a good fit for you.


Score: 6.5

Pros:
  • Some mission variety keeps it all from blurring together too much
  • The ability to add a member to your squad for a tough mission can come in handy
  • The added zombie modes throw in a little extra sprinkle of fun

Cons:
  • Lacks the intensity and excitement of other shooters on the Switch
  • The money and unlock systems retain too much of the game’s mobile roots
  • There are some missions with odd difficulty spikes