imperiousrix's Trenched (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

The Few. The Proud. The Mobile Trench Brigade.


Trenched is a game unlike any that's been released recently.  That's because it takes so many elements from so many different games and genres that the stew that emerges from this video game broth pot is one that manages to be delicious, almost surprisingly so.  It isn't without its faults, and for all the replayability in its campaign, Trenched still feels a little light in the metal loafers, but fans of Double Fine or those with a penchant for cooperative play should definitely check out this mech shooter.

STORY 

In true Double Fine fashion, the story of Trenched is a ludicrously genius one.  This is a post-WWI alternate reality where an alien broadcast has fried the minds of countless military personnel, save for two; Frank Woodruff Sr. and Vlad Farnsworth.  These two close friends are granted near infinite intellect.  Whilst Woodruff uses his smarts to develop the "Mobile Trench", huge mechanized war machines that allow disabled soldier to walk once more, Farnsworth goes insane and creates the "monovisions", creatures made of television screens and wires that are hellbent on spreading the alien broadcast to all mankind.  As this signal is almost always lethal, and the monovisions themselves are able to decimate most of the world's established military, Woodruff takes it upon himself to assemble a Mobile Trench Brigade and fight back against the invading beasties. 

CONTENT  

Trenched is split up into three campaign theaters with about four missions (and one boss fight) per.  This might not sound like much, and to be honest, I wish Trenched had a tad more raw content to dig into.  What saves Trenched from being too light in the loafers, however, is the ridiculous amount of loot and customization options.  Between drops, challenges, and just level-specific stuff you're picking up, there are (approx.) millions of ways to customize your given Trench.  This provides huge incentive to re-play levels repeatedly in hopes that you'll get something delicious.  On top of this, any level can be played together with up to three comrades, and this in turn plays back into SEPARATE challenges dealing with your "regiment" (people who you've recently played the game with).  This makes the replay value of Trenched potentially great, but with only the handful of levels included in the game, most of which become unplayably easy at a certain level, the unfortunate cap on content makes this the one area that it falls somewhat short. 

GAMEPLAY 

Thankfully, the actual act of playing Trenched is never disappointing.  Each mission (aside from some straight forward boss fights) tasks you with utilizing your customized Trenched in the defense of a given structure or group of structures.  You do this by combining your Trench's given weaponry, but also by setting up defensive and support emplacements about the battlefield to stem the attacking waves of monovisions.  You see, besides being a third-person Mech shooter, Trenched is also a tower-defense game.  You'll set up machine guns, sniper turrets, dampening generators, and mine layers in your enemy's paths and at strategic choke-points to make sure your structures remain safe. 
 
Of course that's easier said than done, as there are a ton of varied types of monovisions.  Some shield other units.  Others have armor that needs to be broken off with explosions before attacking the creature directly.  Others still will come straight for YOU and try to murder your ass.  This variation makes the pacing of each pitched battle fast and frantic, and you'll need to learn how to manage your scrap reserves best to maintain your defenses.  Of course, variation also plays into just HOW you've customized your Trench.  For example, if you're rolling an assault chassis with some heavy weapons and/or ridiculous number of guns attached, those emplacements are going to take a back seat to just good old fashioned shooting.  However, you could also take an engineering chassis into the fight loaded up with all types of emplacements and control the entire battlefield with strategic prowess.  Throwing in a group of three other comrades means these options get even more radical as, with a posse behind you, you can specialize in your favorite area even more.  In the end, Trenched is a game about love, and there's plenty to love with the way this game plays.  

PRESENTATION  

Like many other games in the Double Fine lineage, Trenched's distinct world drives its presentation.  Trenched might not have a ton of graphical power behind it, but it knows how to to put its best mechanical foot forward.  The cartoony look belays a dark and desolate picture of a world taken over by sentient televisions.  Punctuating Trenched is its voice cast, with smartly written dialog bringing even more humor to the absurdity of the whole thing.  The one point of contention I have with Trenched is the lack of a consistent soundtrack.  There are fitting period themes present during cutscenes and at given points, but most of the in-game stuff is silent with only the ambient sounds of gunfire and screeching monsters. 

VERDICT 

Trenched is a 15 dollar gem.  It may not have a ton of content (least that which stays playable throughout the game's entirety), but if you have a lust for loot and a stalwart squad of soldiers willing to endure some repetition, Trenched is a game well worth the price of admissions.
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Other reviews for Trenched (Xbox 360 Games Store)

    Mech Combat and Tower Defense Make For a Thrilling Time 0

    Trenched is the latest downloadable game from Double Fine Productions and differs greatly from their previous titles in one major way. While Double Fine’s previous forays into downloadable games have relied largely on their unique artistic direction and charm, Trenched manages to provide fun, frantic gameplay in addition to these elements. Providing players with a good length campaign that can be played through cooperatively, and a deep level of customization, Trenched is easily the best downloa...

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