Defend the toy box.
It seems such a simple task, really. It's the kind of thing you used to spend countless afternoons doing as a kid, with phalanxes of plastic toy soldiers, planes and tanks lined up on your bedroom floor. It's a little more challenging, however, when Russian M-16s and tanks are firing back, raining actual hell on your toy defenses.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a bit of a misnomer, since the actual Cold War was all about diplomacy, not battlefield skirmishes -- at least officially. No matter: Just like 2009's original Toy Soldiers game, Cold War sets itself apart by allowing you to do what other tower defense games typically don't -- jump in and take first-person control of your plastic defensive units after you've placed them on the toy battlefield.
Chances are good you'll wreak far more devastation when you're the one dropping artillery shells on enemy tanks, but there's a serious strategic downside to spending all your time in the trenches -- it's time you won't be repairing, upgrading and swapping out your other units with the cash you've amassed from killing enemies.
If you're not paying careful attention to which enemy units are going to spearhead the next attack wave, you may find helicopters turning your machine-gun turrets into so much plastic soup. Balancing the ever-shifting offense-defense question is the main reason the Toy Soldiers franchise works so effectively.
Nailing certain tasks on the battlefield (killing a red-starred unit, for instance) nets you something called barrages -- specialized attacks or brief access to unique units that can totally change a mission's balance of power. If you don't bust a gut the first time your barrage bonus yields you a lil' Rambo commando unit (complete with red headband, shell bandaleros and Sly Stallone slur), then you're clearly didn't spend the '80s watching cheesy-ass post-Vietnam war flicks like the game's designers did.
Cold War is packed with goofy pop-culture references like these -- look for toy-based nods to Apocalypse Now and Rocky 3 while you're waiting for the next attack to rain down.
There are more modes here than there were secret theaters of war between Russia and the United States in the 1980s -- one prevents you from commandeering your units, while another dictates that only the ones you command directly can fire. That wide array of ways to play means it'll be a long time before Cold War gets put back into the virtual toy box.
Final verdict: If you missed the first Toy Soldiers game, this is a perfect chance to taste the plastic joy of one of the most tightly constructed tower defense games on the market.