Monday, January 18, 2010

iPhone/iTouch Review: Trenches

Developer: Thunder Game Works
Release Date: December 24, 2009
Cost: $1.99

Pros: Overall layout allows different experience each play, Achievements encourage multiple skirmish matches, Different maps provide different strategies, field promotions provide incentive for smart tactics, Intelligent AI, Cartoon look and audio give it an entertaining feel

Cons: No way to control multiple units at one time, larger battlefields can be difficult to navigate, Campaign is well...not a campaign at all, Power in numbers strategy ends up being prevalent

  It has been some time since I have purchased an app so I decided to browse the store for a new game to waste time on. I had been hearing good things about Trenches and wanted to see if it was worth the talk and worthy of its place among the the top 25 on sale.

  The game works as a strategy RTS meets tower defense. Both teams start on opposite sides of a map with the object being push your enemy back and completely overrun the opposition's side to win. Along the way there may be a number of trenches to set your units up at or a few obstacles like barbed wire that slows enemies down. You slowly gain revenue and use that deploy one of 4 classes available. The cheapest class is a group Rifleman. followed by a Sniper that can shoot long distances, Machine gunner that can mow down enemies close range, and a mortar team that can take out large groups. You also have a chemical warfare bombardment to halt enemy advance, or an expensive air strike that will take out an entire trench of enemies. Navigating the map only requires swiping the sky with your finger to see what is ahead or where your units are located.

  The game encourages you to play smart, as the AI is no pushover. They will attack in groups, rush you given the opportunity, and even throw air strikes of their own to completely wipe out your units. Playing smart also "promotes" your units, allowing them to hit harder and move quicker. So hanging back and holding down an enemy advance has its perks instead of running full speed into machine gun fire. Doing well also awards a field commander, which though ineffective against platoons can boost the health of any surrounding units. Hunkering down in a trench is..well...naturally the idea, as you are harder to hit.

  Though the game provides a generally entertaining experience, there are a few drawbacks that hold it back from greatness. Like most strategy games on the iPhone/iTouch, gathering groups of units to move as one is beyond frustrating. Though a purchased unit does not stop moving until you tell it to or it runs into an enemy, once you wish to move forward, you must go through individually drawing lines for each of your team, leaving you swiping the screen in a hurry to move before the enemy can set up. The Campaign is 5 stages...with no story...or incentive to play other than to unlock Zombie Horde and achievements. Skirmish ends up being where most time is spent, so why bother with a Campaign that has no story, upgradeable elements, or incentive to play?

  Through it all, the game is entertaining. Nothing so stunning that I would continually skip a lecture in class to play, but an overall decent experience. If you are like me and have not had a game to play over the holidays or do not feel like dropping 10 bucks on an App, this is enjoyable enough to warrant at least a look.

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