IGN Review of Army Men: Soldiers of Misfortune
It was once said that "War is hell;" I won't go as far as amending that statement to have "Army Men: Soldiers of Misfortune" sub in for the word "war," but I will tell you that this probably isn't a game you need to be playing.
With installment after installment of Army Men games behind it, Soldiers of Misfortune bucks tradition and casts you as Timmy, a normal boy. Seems Timmy's toy army men have a mind of their own, and a war has broken out in the boy's house. Timmy shrinks to the size of his plastic figures, aligns himself with the green squadron, grabs his NERF-like dart gun, and goes to war with the tannies. This battle is spread across several chapters that each come with five missions; all of them are pretty straightforward and boring. You need to wander around and find a certain number of supply crates, you need to wander around and free your captured green allies, and so on. No matter the "objective," you're wandering around a place you've been before shooting tan army men you've shot before.
However, the main problem I have with Soldiers of Misfortune is that it's incredibly painful to play. A third-person shooter, the game has the action on the touch screen and a map screen that displays objectives and enemies on the top screen. You'll move forward, back, and rotate Timmy's perspective left and right with the D-Pad. If the controls stopped there, I probably wouldn't have to write this review with the throbbing pain I currently have in my left hand. See, when you come across one of these tan soldiers, you tap the screen to shoot. Most of the time, the enemies just stand there and fire, and because you can only move forward and back with the D-Pad, these confrontations can boil down to you two just shooting each other in the face until one person falls down. To counteract these stalemates, developer Big Blue Bubble has tossed in a strafe button -- hold down the left shoulder button, and suddenly you can move side to side with the left and right commands on the D-Pad.
I'm sure that sounds good, but have you stopped to think of everything my left hand is doing in that situation? My hand is moving from the comfortable cradling position to a place that allows L button controls -- just my fingertips are touching the back of the system but they're being required to support the entire weight of the system while my right hand is tapping the center of the touch screen. This process led to shooting pains in my hand. Maybe you don't have the same size hands as me, maybe you'll figure out a better way to hold it, but personally, I want to be challenged in my games and not in how I need to hold my games.
Sadly, there's no challenge or ingenuity to gameplay in general in Soldiers of Misfortune. Although there are several weapons (your aforementioned dart gun, a water pistol, tennis balls, and bottle caps) and assorted power-ups (armor, kinetic shields, damage boosts, and infinite shots), you're really just running around blocky-looking levels getting into awkward battles. If you don't want to deal with the strafing, you can just walk backwards because even though the enemy has dart guns like yours that feature infinite range, the bad guys won't fire on you if you're back a little bit. These lame combat mechanics are taken into missions where you need to find explosives and set them off at certain points and ones where you need to protect vehicles. However, these different objectives offer no gameplay variety; you're still jogging from point to point fighting any tan guy who gets in your way.
Visually and audibly, Soldiers of Misfortune doesn't bring much to the table. Although there are the different missions, you're still playing in the same three rooms (Timmy's bedroom, kitchen, and backyard) that feature cruddy textures. Went Timmy's moving, he's a jaggy mess and dart impacts are pixilated icons. Sometimes you'll be trying to draw a bead on an enemy, and Timmy's fat head will get in the way and make aiming impossible until you rotate the perspective. On the sound front, there's the forgettable background music, Timmy's footsteps, and the same groans over and over from our main character and his foes.
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