What comes to mind when you think of WWI? I know for me it's Germans with pointy helmets, bi-planes, and, of course, and dirty futile trench warfare! Thousands of British and German troops lined up on either side of a big open field hunkering down in ditches trying to blast the crap out of each other. Stay in your little trench and be subjected to mortar fire or try making a dash across the open field to the enemy?s side of the frontline to get mowed down in a hail of gunfire. Leave it to Thunder Game Works to make this dark bit of world history into an original over-the-top side-scrolling real-time strategy game!
Your mission in either the Campaign (a series of tougher and tougher battles) or Skirmish (a customized individual battle) is to take your rag tag group of British troops all the way across this multi-screen battlefield to the far right and in so doing take back some territory from the nasty Germans (no offense to any German readers out there, but you country is definitely portrayed as the baddies in this game). You gain resources over time and with every enemy you take out that you can then use to either bring in reinforcements or call in artillery strikes. Once you add one of the given units you?ll have to wait a bit before the game allows you to call in any other troops or strikes even if you have the funds so you aren?t able to simply save up your funds and instantly spam your opposition with a flood of units.
Controlling your squads couldn?t be simpler, just tap and drag a line from any of the units (depending on the unit type this could be anywhere from 1-3 men) to where you?d like to go. There is a nasty catch, however. The ever growing hordes of German soldier shooting at you will make progressing to their side of the field difficult (they?re trying to do the same thing as you, essentially, and if they can push you all the way back to the far left off the battlefield, the battle will be lost). How do you plan on breaking through their impenetrable defenses? The key to success is knowing your troops and being able to assess in a sort of abstract rock-paper-scissors like manner which type of units at your disposal (when playing the campaign each battle will unlock additional troop types) are best to counter whatever the Germans are throwing at you.
The game has a great almost bobble-headed 2D cartoony look with smooth animation.
The game not only has lots of authentic sounding gun fire and explosions, but great tongue-in-cheek quips and an adaptive soundtrack. By adaptive soundtrack the developers have proudly implemented a system that will subtly morph the music to fit the situation from a triumphant march as you overrun a few enemy stragglers to a much more frantic pace as you engage the enemy in a prolonged shootout.
-A clever original take on a side-scrolling real-time strategy games in the ?Castle Attack? genre (even if there is no castle per se). -Unlike many of these games where each newly introduced troop is clearly superior, this game cleverly balances all four of its units so that each actually plays a vital role in the war effort with their unique strengths and weaknesses (leaving the player to figure out which combination will best counter whatever the enemy is sending down on you). -OpenFeint support with Global Rankings and a wide variety of Achievements. -Four difficulty levels to choose from with the standard Easy, Medium, Hard, and something new. The fourth difficulty option is called ?Adaptive? by which the game will tweak itself as you play to keep things. If it senses you can?t lead your troops out of a bag it will tone the enemy opposition down a bit but, by the same token, if you suddenly seem to have the swing of things the game has permission to throw everything and the kitchen sink at you. -Another innovative bit from the developers is their ability to tweak their game on the fly without the usual App update route. Sure, it isn?t like they can add new art or units without an update, but as long as you have Internet access when you?re playing the developers can beam out updated unit stats or other slight game balance tweaks (Snipers might now cost a little more or Riflemen might be given a little more health).
-While almost every battle of the campaign might introduce a new unit, as it stands in v1.0, your objective is always the same (to make it off the right edge of the map) and therefore could appear rather repetitive to some. -At this point in v1.0, the battlefield is kind of bland and featureless. Other than the occasional trench you can hunker down in for a defensive bonus, or some barbed wire to slow your advance, the terrain you?re crossing is pretty uneventful.
I like it and think the game is well worth the price of admission but, if not simply for the game as it stands, for all of the interesting additions already in the hopper, as it were. Even as you read this the developers are promising more varied upcoming campaign objectives (like King of the Hill or Capture the Flag like missions), multi-player support over Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, and all sorts of other little tweaks and touch-ups to further flesh out their cool strategy game.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -4.5- Great 2D cartoony bobble-headed stylized graphics. Sound: -5- Wacky quips, great sound effects, and that adaptive soundtrack. Controls: -4- The line drawing and screen scrolling are incredibly intuitive with the only nag being it can be a little awkward trying to move a group of units all at once. Gameplay: -4- I really like the strategy involved, the Open Feint support (so Global Ranking and Achievements), but have to admit stuff can get a little repetitive (at least until all of these extra gameplay modes are added to spice up the Campaign).
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Know your troops!
Riflemen: The base generic grunts, are your best bang for your buck. Their weapons aren't great but being able to have three guys firing at once can really make the difference in helping defend your more many more expensive/fragile units. Leveled up they are a force to be reckoned with!
Sniper: A single soldier with a long range and slow firing weapon. Pretty meaningless on his own but if you can place him behind a wall of riflemen you might have a chance of taking out that machinegunner that none of your other troops can approach without instantly being mowed down.
Machinegunner: A little two man crew of a machinegunner and a generic rifleman side-kick which, while not that long of a range (guessing about the same as a rifleman but not really sure), it can mow down any approaching soldier like nobody's business. If I recall correctly, the machine gunner takes a bit longer than a rifleman or sniper to setup and start firing after having moved.
Mortarman: Also a little two person crew of a mortar guy and a rifleman side-kick. This guy takes even longer to setup and fire than the machine gunner but IF he can get some shots off he's perfect for breaking up large clusters of enemy soldiers. No clue on the range but I'm going to assume longer than a rifleman but less than the sniper.
Poison Gas: This is a one time use poison gas cloud you can target wherever you?d like. While the poison vapors can do some serious area effect damage for a few seconds, it works best as a ?subtle motivator? for the enemy troops to clear you some space (they?ll likely quickly retreat out of the cloud). The one downside, however, is that you too are vulnerable to its nasty effects so be sure to halt your advance in the area until the cloud clears.
Artillery Support: This is a one time use mortar blast much deadlier than what your lowly mortarman can whip out on his own. The mortar blast is a great way to instantly take out a tight little cluster of bad guys assuming they don?t run out of the way first (the enemy will have a second or so to react once the Poison Gas or Artillery Support is fired, just like you do when they target your troops).
So what I love about this is there is definitely some strategy in who you call out and where you place them depending on the makeup of your current opposition but even then it isn't that simple. Like I would say if your men are being waylayed by an enemy machinegunner you would need a sniper to fight back from a point out of range from the machine gunner but unless you have a decent defensive wall of riflemen already in place to cover you, the enemy can easily send in some riflemen to take out your sniper (in close range three riflemen completely outclass the lone sniper).
Game Facts: Developer: Thunder Game Works Release Date: December 24th 2009 Version: 1.0 (OS 3.0 Tested) Genre: Real-Time Strategy File Size: 24.4 MB Price: $2.99 Buy Game: Full Version: iTunes App Store
A little slow on the uptake here but actually Trenches has had a number of cool updates since I wrote the review! AS of this posting they're up to v1.2.6 (here are the changes from the last two updates with v1.2.5 being REALLY big):
== Version 1.2.6 == ?That pesky crashing has been all fixed up
?More unit balancing
?Various bug fixes
== Version 1.2.5 == ?Increase the length to the campaign
?Adding new types of play to the campaign, such as Keep Secrets Safe, Box Barrage, and More
?Revamping the units for increased strategy
?Adding bunkers/bases to the spawn points
?New Gestures to advance all units and to stop all units at one time. Swipe two fingers forward to All Advance nearby troops. Swipe two fingers backwards to Retreat nearby troops. Shake to Panic Retreat troops in view. Swipe two fingers down to stop nearby troops.