Updated: Trenches Review

Trenches has just released a substantial update, which unfortunately wipes out old saves on the campaign, but also adds some significant new modes and controls.

You can now stop your units at any point in time and draw lines of retreat if need be, which is helpful with the three new modes they have added, all of which require a great deal more strategy.

The Box Barrage mode pits you against waves of enemies with only artillery to fight them off, while The Great Escape pits one unit of riflemen against a wave of enemies, with only artillery to aid them.

Overrun is reminiscent of the still-entertaining Zombie Horde mode, since it throws overwhelming numbers of enemies at you, though they do eventually stop. The campaign also presents alternatives to the usual battles by incorporating these new modes or variations on them.

No new troops have been added, however, and strangely, the newly added controls aren’t explained in the actual game. More updates are apparently on the way, so we will keep you posted.

Trenches has seen a variety of updates since its release, and we think it’s a great example of what dedicated developers can do to improve a game, sometimes substantially. Read on for our impressions of Trenches’ new online multiplayer mode.

Since the last major update, a new type of unit, the engineer, has been introduced. Engineers can upgrade trenches into bunkers, which can then serve as an advanced deploy point. They can also cut and lay wire, and they wield a shotgun. There are also a few new game types to play in Skirmish mode.

Much more significant, however, is the addition of multiplayer. In the update just released, you can play either local or global multiplayer, and you have several other options from there. You can choose from three game types, and for two of them, you can even choose between co-op and versus.

Versus pits you against another player, and adds significantly to the strategy required from each side. Co-op pits you and another player against the computer. This one is really only useful if you can coordinate with your ally, because you are both pulling from the same resources and controlling the same troops. That’s probably one of the ideas behind voice chat, which you can either enable or disable – and if its disabled on one side, it’s disabled entirely.

Overall, these updates have turned Trenches from a good game into an excellent game. The different game types and unit types, along with the multiplayer addition, add significantly to the strategy and gameplay in general. We feel that the changes are enough to bump Trenches up to a Must Have.

World War I may be a rather unusual setting for a war game, since attention is most often given over to its bigger, more devastating brother, but Trenches takes this idea and uses it to introduce a combination of path-drawing and tower defense. In fact, the game provides a tower offense type of gameplay, with the towers being soldiers and the offense being the goal of reaching the other side.

The campaign mode of Trenches has you controlling British forces, fighting through long, scrolling fields that are mostly generic, but accurate in that they are full of trenches, barbed wire, and a multitude of enemies. The system for deploying troops is familiar to any real-time strategy player: money pays for troops, deployment causes spawn timers to reset, and strategy is required while waiting between purchases.

Duke it out on the battlefield like your great grandpa.

The four troop types are rifleman, sniper, machine gun, and mortar, and these are accompanied by poison attacks or air strikes. After deploying any unit, the cartoonish soldiers automatically march forward until they face an enemy, at which point they stop wherever they are and fight until death or victory, without being able to move forward another inch, even if they are at the edge of a trench that they could use. There is not much strategy involved in the actual combat between units. Most of the strategy simply lies in how many units you have, and how you move them forward.

Luckily, you can control these units by drawing them a path, allowing you to stagger units, make them hole up in trenches, or have them beat a hasty retreat in order to draw enemies out. Another way to draw enemies out of their trenches is to call in an air strike, which has an over-the-top result.

After deciding where to aim the strike, a small red dot appears on the map. Then several shells drop, and every soldier’s oversized head flies a comically far distance across the map. The way of war is not all one-sided, however, because it can also happen to you.

Would you like mustard with your gas?

Skirmish mode is basically the same as playing one battle in campaign mode, only with more customization. The most notable addition is the “Zombie Horde” mode, which pits your tea-sipping soldiers against an endless horde of zombies, which grows the longer the game lasts. The animation of these bloody baddies is hilarious, and it’s satisfying to watch your Brits stand up to line after line of them. Sadly, the zombies don’t ever let up, and even the strongest army will eventually fall.

Trenches combines cartoony animated soldiers with interesting strategic gameplay in a way that we enjoy, but the strategy is simply not dynamic enough in the end. Forcing units to stop and fight wherever they are makes strength-in-numbers one of the only surefire strategies, and it also teaches you how terribly high casualties were on both sides in WWI. Who ever said games aren’t educational?

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