Before I get into the detail of what Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is, it’s important to address the elephant in the room. Existing previously as two free to play mobile titles published by Chillingo, this game is a combination of both of those games, ported to the PS Vita via the team from Wired Productions. It’s not a free game here, but it does offer a lot of fun for what is asked, and thankfully they have removed all of those infuriating in-app purchases.
The asking price is $7.99/£5.49/€6.99 and is three way cross-buy with the PS3 and (when it is released) the PS4 version, and what you get is 58 bite sized military missions over the two titles in which you need to exterminate enemy soldiers, destroy tanks and bunkers or escort journalists through the warzones using your well-armed infantry units. Missions are very short and won’t take more than ten minutes to complete but with the sheer number available will offer you more than six hours of gameplay, and you also have a wave based zombie mode – which is quite brilliant, as well as the option to transfer your save across your PlayStation devices.
To aid you in your quests, your miniature troopers are armed with a standard issue rifle which is more than adequate for the early challenges, and is fired by targeting the enemy units on screen, as with the mobile versions. Where this version comes alive though is that you can also fire with the right stick, the presence of the physical controls has turned the game into a twin stick shooter. There are some touch controls, such as a swipe across the display to make your units duck, as well as activating the more powerful weaponry which is either found in supply crates or purchased using “Command Points”, which is the currency of the game. You have grenades and rockets as well as targeted air strikes that can be used to swing the battle in your favour, and may be needed to get past some more tricky obstacles, such as bunkers and tanks. You simply drag the weapon to target what you want to destroy, which works quite well.
The game features a very simple, yet effective look and sounds like you are in the middle of a war zone. Viewed from a top down perspective, it invokes a lot of familiar memories for me, with more than a touch of Cannon Fodder about the game, or more recently Total Recoil and fans of these titles or anything in between will feel right at home here. My biggest gripe is that sometimes you cannot see enough of the battlefield and can often walk straight into something that will wipe your team out instantly, and my little guys sometimes got caught up in the environment but other than that it works well enough.
Each mission can be played on three difficulties, with a higher difficulty rewarded with a higher amount of command points earned. These points will not only allow you to purchase the additional artillery or health in missions but they are also used to upgrade your squad’s capabilities, through increased armour and more powerful weapons to faster movement speed or a better starting rank. You start off with one soldier and will end up using a maximum of three, but the number does sometimes vary between missions. Those that survive the operations will be rewarded with a rank increase, those that are killed in action will be lost forever. Unless you want to spend some medals on reviving them, although it isn’t necessary as there are a steady supply of grunts ready and willing to take their place.
As you progress through the missions you also unlock additional infantry types that can be recruited, with a choice of medics, flame units, grenadiers and more which can be purchased using the collectible medals hidden in the various missions. You can also equip different skins, which can award command points upon successfully completing the mission, additional hit points, starting with advanced weaponry or affecting the opposition range. The missions themselves do have different objectives for a little variety, some requiring the entire enemy forces to be eradicated and some needing vehicles, even if they do come across as very similar. They shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete before extraction to the next mission.
The carnage that is on offer is incredibly satisfying, and the key to getting a higher score (and more points to spend on the many unlockable upgrades) is the score multiplier. Successive kills will boost your rating up to a maximum of four, and when this is maxed out you will find your rewards unlocking in no time, which only makes you stronger, and those higher difficulties more manageable.
In addition to the two campaigns you also have two different wave based zombie modes. Starting with one unit and gaining more as you progress (to a maximum of four) the aim is to survive for as long as possible. You will receive infrequent ammunition and health drops, and the strength, number and intensity of the enemies (and chickens) will gradually increase. I’ve managed to survive to wave 17, and there is a trophy for those that make it to 25. Incredibly frustrating, but this addictive mode will have you playing for a long time after the campaign has finished!
It’s very difficult to find any real reasons to not recommend the game. Sure, it doesn’t push the hardware particularly well and won’t last you forever, but it is quite fun and entertaining. For the price, as well as the fact that you get three versions of the game its a very appealing package, especially for those that like a little bit of miniaturised destruction. The zombie mode alone is incredibly addictive and is arguably worth the price alone as you try to best your friend’s scores.