If there's anything you can count on Chillingo doing consistently, it's getting a sequel to market for any game that catches on. And since Chillingo is owned by publishing behemoth Electronic Arts, they have the resources to do that pretty fast.
Case in point with Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops, the follow-up from developer Kukouri to their original game Tiny Troopers, which came out last summer and has been downloaded over 4 million times. Kukouri hit a lot of right notes with that first game. With the studio largely operating from the same playbook here, the battle strategy for TT2:SO already has a pretty solid footing.
From that perspective, there's not a whole lot that's really different from the first game. Yes, there are the new additions of Special Ops soldiers like the Flamer and Gatling Gunner units. But it's not much of a departure from what made the first game successful. That means anyone who played the first Tiny Troopers will feel at home here, jumping right into the action with your squad of miniature, toddler-headed troops.
Like in the first game, things start out in boot camp, where you quickly learn how to control your moving and shooting with well-placed taps. You also start things out with Chief and that glasses-wearing soldier available for your squad. Is it just me or does the glasses guy, Adam in the case of my game, remind anyone of Sgt. Tackleberry from Police Academy?
As has been said before about the first game, the gameplay and setting are reminiscent of real-time strategy games like Cannon Fodder and Dogs of War. But here's another old game that is definitely present in the DNA of Tiny Troopers -- General Chaos. Remember that game? If not, check this out to see what I'm talking about. Tiny Troopers and General Chaos both share a goofy sensibility and cartoony look that give everything an enjoyable silliness. And that look matches well with the humor that Kukori has peppered throughout Tiny Troopers.
Like in the first game, the controls in Tiny Troopers are very easy. Your boys are always ready to go, so what it really comes down to for you, the iPad-totin' squad leader, is to just make sure you are tapping around to where you want the toddler-headed bad guys to get blown up. To help you do that blowing up, there are items like rockets or grenades, which you can drag from a sidebar menu over to where you want your tiny trooper to shoot. You can also upgrade your arsenal and outfits in-between missions to prepare you for tougher levels.
Swiping to the side of your units will get them to duck out of the way and take cover, which is good for avoiding incoming explosions. But shooting and running at the same time is the key to success here. Even at the harder difficulties, if you can get your strafing down, you'll be able to mow through enemy lines no problem. Unless those enemies happen to be zombies.
Since it seems like most developers these days are contractually obligated to include zombies somewhere in their game, Kukouri has stepped it up a notch with TT2:SO and expanded from the one zombie mission that was in the first title. Now there are three different zombie missions, one for each of the three maps in the game -- Unicorn Lair, Silent Storm, and Sandbox. A fourth map named Blizzard is, "classified at this time," but will be, "coming soon."
You aren't just shooting at the undead in TT2:SO. There are plenty of other enemies in the game, with a lot of variety and different sizes. Though it does feel a little unfair when you're rolling through a stage in a tank, blasting your way past standard ground troops that are just milling about. I guess that's why there are three different difficulty settings. On easy mode, the game is pretty casual.
Try it on hard though and you will be surprised at how unforgiving it can be. A tad incongruous for a game where the characters all look like they should be in a children's book. But hey, that goes right along with the strange balance of kid voices and mini blood splatters that appear on the ground.
Speaking of those Special Ops, you can unlock new heroes to add to your crack team of soldiers by purchasing them with Medals and Command Points that you earn while making your way through the game. A nice change of pace here is the design of the shop. While it's still a Chillingo game that wants to maximize in-app purchases, the presentation is a little slicker and less intrusive about encouraging you to fork over more dough to upgrade your team. For instance, instead of the shopping cart icon, there's a plus symbol.
Much like the first entry, Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops is a fun and casual RTS game that will be sure to please fans of the first game. None of the charm and humor has been lost here and the presentation is very much on point. At the same time, it's playing it pretty safe and there's not a whole lot here that seems new. But all in all, I'd say this next entry was a pretty successful mission.