Giant Bomb Review

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Iron Brigade Review

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Though some aspects of it are short-lived, there are enough great multiplayer moments in Trenched to make it worth your while.

Double Fine's recent forays into downloadable territory have been solid vehicles for clever comedy, and that's the primary reason why you're there. The games have been short, solid, and sharp-witted. Trenched keeps the same comic sensibility that you've come to expect from these releases, but the game that backs everything up is an exciting-but-brief piece of multiplayer action that feels well-balanced and reasonably deep. While it could be a bit better at exploiting that depth, Trenched is a great mix of funny and fun mech combat that's great while it lasts.

The story is that two soldiers, manning a communications outpost after receiving wartime injuries, stumbled onto some kind of mysterious broadcast that made them super-smart. With newfound abilities at their disposal, one went and invented "mobile trenches," which is a silly word for "mech," and the other went the dark route and became obsessed with spreading the broadcast to the world. Vlad, the evil one, makes monsters out of televisions screens called Monovisions, and the different types of monos make up the enemies you face while piloting your trench, dropping turrets, and protecting various targets.

Most of the 15 missions in Trenched are defensive in nature, which is where the comparisons to tower defense games come in. There are one to three structures in each level that you must defend from wave after wave of enemies. Your first line of defense is probably your trench itself, which can be customized with various weapons, chassis, legs, and so on. Outfitting machine guns onto your trench gives you a pretty direct way to impact the enemy, but in some cases, you'll want shotguns, or perhaps large sniper cannons or gigantic artillery guns are more your speed. Trench customization is key to your success in each mission, and the game gives you helpful tips about the things you'll need to win.

One of the other ways to customize your trench is to pick which emplacements you'll take into battle with you. These are various turrets that you can plop down just about anywhere on the map. Most of them are pretty straightforward. Shotgun turrets take out ground-based enemies, flak turrets watch the skies, and machine guns can handle both. Sniper turrets and minelayers give you some additional weapon-type turrets to bring out, when you need something a little extra. There are also support turrets, such as dampeners that slow down enemies when they enter the turret's range. This sets up the classic tower defense strategy of slowing enemies down so that your emplacements can really pound on them while you mop up the rest with your mech's weapons.

It's certainly possible to play Trenched by yourself, but it's better with others. Up to four players can get into the game at once via Xbox Live, and once you get comfortable with the weapons and know what to expect out of the levels, an experienced team of players can clean up without taking much, if any damage along the way. As you play, you'll gain experience and collect loot, giving you a reason to revisit levels, but you'll probably hit the highest level--10--after six hours or so. This doesn't mean you'll have access to every part, though, so if you're a completist, you still might find plenty of reasons to keep playing Trenched's levels again and again, because the various weapons and loot you get is usually great. It's also where most of the game's comedy is found. Trenched does the "clever item descriptions" thing exceptionally well, even managing to throw in a trio of wonderful Insane Clown Posse gags along the way.

The items themselves are worth checking out, too. The game does well with stats, letting you see things like range and damage for all the different weapons while you're building your trench. But some weapons also come with additional effects, leading to machine guns that also emit flak to make them more effective against aerial targets. Or artillery shells that hit the ground and cause area of effect damage for a few seconds after impact. Or shotguns that shoot slugs, turning them into smaller sniper rifles for chassis that can't handle the big guns. You'll also get upgraded chassis as you play, giving you more armor and a variety of types that almost serve as classes. The engineering chassis only have a couple of weapon slots, but can take more turret types into battle. Assault chassis, on the other hand, let you load up with weapons, but you'll only get a couple of weaker turret types to take with you.

The game also dabbles in social elements by putting your recent teammates into a regiment. Between missions, you'll get updates on the stats that your regiment has put together, and some unlockable items and challenges hinge on meeting certain regiment goals. Also, between missions, you can run around the deck of a ship and salute each other like crazy. You can dress your marine in different clothing, and the hats confer different saluting animations. It's the right kind of goofy inclusion that feeds in just a little bit more charm.

The downfall of Trenched is that you unlock all of this great stuff, but don't have a ton of opportunities to face tough opposition once you get to the end. The lower levels are a breeze once you've unlocked better gear, and most of them are built in such a way that you want to take specific things into each mission, rather than just loading up with the most savage gear you've got and laying waste to everything. Also, the menus that you use to customize your trench aren't so good, so changing out your chassis, legs, and weapons between each mission takes a little longer than it probably needs to. Once you get used to its particular quirks, it's not a huge deal. Also, the game's frame rate can get a little rough when you've got four players shooting off weapons at the same time.

For something that sounds like such a simple combination of existing genres, Trenched comes together surprisingly well, and it's the way it plays and controls that makes it all work. Shredding the different enemies with your varied arsenal is quite satisfying. It'd be a thin experience if you were looking for something to play by yourself, but if you like to just saddle up with friends and blast things apart, Trenched is a strong download.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
137 Comments
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Posted by FelixCulpa

Kinda wish this was on steam. Seems like a fun game.

Posted by rjayb89

MAD ICI POINTS

Posted by Vorbis

*Salutes*

Posted by MariachiMacabre

Bought it this morning. Fantastic game so far.

Posted by Popskinz

Nice, good score.

Posted by Olqavtoras

I want this game so bad, but of course it's not out in europe...

Posted by sanzee

Double Fine Brad, stand up and take a bow.

Posted by InternetJames

Apparently Europe cannot handle Insane Clown Posse gags!

Posted by Vrikk

Is it just me, or is this Double Fine's best downloadable game to date?

Posted by ghostNPC

Glad to see the game came through.

Posted by DarkidRising

not shit stirring here but... what with the double fine guys coming in for TNT to play this game, how do Giantbomb tread that fine line between a genuinely honest review and a review that satisfies the developer? If this game had sucked, that would have made TNT a seriously awkward event. That said, I assume the Giantbomb guys have had a review copy for awhile now, and set up the Trenched TNT already knowing the game to be good. Does anyone know how this all actually works?

Edited by crusader8463

I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interests given all the stuff you guys have and are going to be doing with them. 
 
Not claiming any of that did affect the score or any of that, but I figured you guys would have taken the same approach as you are with Bastion just to be safe.

Posted by Henrikhoe
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interest.
thats just stupid to say 
 
like gb arent professional
Edited by DarkidRising

why is it a stupid thing to say? what with the TNT this week (as I mentioned in my comment) there IS a conflict in interest, unless GB have had review code for awhile now and already knew the game to be good and only set up TNT this week knowing that.

Posted by crusader8463
@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interest.
thats just stupid to say  like gb arent professional
I knew that was going to be the first thing some one said. Sigh... 
 
I never claimed they were. I just said that I figured they would have opted not to review it like Bastion given how friendly they are with the guys since they meet at some event.
Posted by ionkinetic

@Olqavtoras said:

I want this game so bad, but of course it's not out in europe...

O eff that shit. Money is money Microsoft, TAKE IT.

Posted by Dimpley

Awesome lets buy it!

...

Oh wait, still not released in europe. Cheers then.

Posted by Zolfe
@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interest.
thats just stupid to say  like gb arent professional
also, it is up to you, the reader to think on what you're reading, if you suspect GB's score might not be accurate in this instance ( even if it is perfectly honest), then check other reviews and stuff. If you think that the score is biased, nevermind whether the reviewer knows it or not, then just look around.

I was actually waiting quite a bit for this review to go up since the E3 podcast, where they discussed the relation between the reviewer and the developper, Ryan was talking directly with the Double Fine guys and David Jaffe about how stuff turns out when the game sucks.
Posted by Zamir

i called it

Posted by McBradders

I would like to buy Trenched but Europe is awful :(

Posted by hinderk

@crusader8463: The reason that they are not reviewing bastion is because of the the videos documenting the production of the game not because they are friends with them.

Posted by animathias

@DarkidRising said:

why is it a stupid thing to say? what with the TNT this week (as I mentioned in my comment) there IS a conflict in interest, unless GB have had review code for awhile now and already knew the game to be good and only set up TNT this week knowing that.

They've had a review code for at least a week, if not longer.

Posted by Henrikhoe
@crusader8463 said:
@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interest.
thats just stupid to say  like gb arent professional
I knew that was going to be the first thing some one said. Sigh...   I never claimed they were. I just said that I figured they would have opted not to review it like Bastion given how friendly they are with the guys since they meet at some event.
Still, you cant be in this line of work withoug being profesional. 
 
I urge you two listen to the E3 2011 podcast, where double fine was guest, this topic was discussed.  
 
The question was (to jeff): Do you find harder to review games now that you have gotten more insight in the development process and gotten friends with some developers (something like that) 
 
Jeff says: No, because i put the consumers first...... (and then he said some more stuff) 
 
So ye. There is a good 15-20 min discussion about reviewing games, how developers feel etc in that bombcast. 
 
Then again, most game reviews are subjective opinions. If you look past the objective technical stuff like framerate etc.
Posted by claudius

I would buy this game in a heartbeat if it came out on Steam, but since this seems rather multiplayer focused and I really don't want to have to pay the fee to get a XBL gold account, I'm going to have to pass on it.

Posted by 2HeadedNinja

@PhilosopherRhymes said:

I would buy this game in a heartbeat if it came out on Steam, but since this seems rather multiplayer focused and I really don't want to have to pay the fee to get a XBL gold account, I'm going to have to pass on it.

same here, too bad DoubleFine turned their back on the PC.

Posted by crusader8463
@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interest.
thats just stupid to say  like gb arent professional
I knew that was going to be the first thing some one said. Sigh...   I never claimed they were. I just said that I figured they would have opted not to review it like Bastion given how friendly they are with the guys since they meet at some event.
Still, you cant be in this line of work withoug being profesional.  I urge you two listen to the E3 2011 podcast, where double fine was guest, this topic was discussed.   The question was (to jeff): Do you find harder to review games now that you have gotten more insight in the development process and gotten friends with some developers (something like that)  Jeff says: No, because i put the consumers first...... (and then he said some more stuff)  So ye. There is a good 15-20 min discussion about reviewing games, how developers feel etc in that bombcast.  Then again, most game reviews are subjective opinions. If you look past the objective technical stuff like framerate etc.
I never claimed he wasn't professional about it, and I did watch the E3 stuff, I'm just saying that I had figured that they would have not done an official review and just kept it to their opinions on the bombcast and other places given how close they are with the guys and how someone may potentially try to call them on that relationship. I trust Jeff to be a professional guy when it comes to his reviews. I was just surprised to see this on the front page, and rather then making a thread about it I figured I would just post in the comments here saying that I was surprised.
Posted by AlisterCat

@DarkidRising said:

why is it a stupid thing to say? what with the TNT this week (as I mentioned in my comment) there IS a conflict in interest, unless GB have had review code for awhile now and already knew the game to be good and only set up TNT this week knowing that.

If Jeff has finished it by the time they recorded the bombcast on monday then it is safe to say they had a good while to review it.

Posted by crusader8463
@2HeadedNinja said:

@PhilosopherRhymes said:

I would buy this game in a heartbeat if it came out on Steam, but since this seems rather multiplayer focused and I really don't want to have to pay the fee to get a XBL gold account, I'm going to have to pass on it.

same here, too bad DoubleFine turned their back on the PC.

Count me as number 3 for the PC. Looks like it would have been a fun game to play for a weekend or two with some friends.
Edited by Mumrik

Damn Jeff. Why would you review the games (Trenched and Bastion) that you've so clearly championed? You've made it obvious through the special coverage that you at GB have an especially close relationship with the devs of these games. I'm sure you're capable of setting that aside when you review the product, but that's not really relevant at all. 
 
I know plenty of people here disagree with me, but I really think you should leave it at the QLs and other material with these games.

Posted by Henrikhoe
@crusader8463 said:
@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interest.
thats just stupid to say  like gb arent professional
I knew that was going to be the first thing some one said. Sigh...   I never claimed they were. I just said that I figured they would have opted not to review it like Bastion given how friendly they are with the guys since they meet at some event.
Still, you cant be in this line of work withoug being profesional.  I urge you two listen to the E3 2011 podcast, where double fine was guest, this topic was discussed.   The question was (to jeff): Do you find harder to review games now that you have gotten more insight in the development process and gotten friends with some developers (something like that)  Jeff says: No, because i put the consumers first...... (and then he said some more stuff)  So ye. There is a good 15-20 min discussion about reviewing games, how developers feel etc in that bombcast.  Then again, most game reviews are subjective opinions. If you look past the objective technical stuff like framerate etc.
I never claimed he wasn't professional about it, and I did watch the E3 stuff, I'm just saying that I had figured that they would have not done an official review and just kept it to their opinions on the bombcast and other places given how close they are with the guys and how someone may potentially try to call them on that relationship. I trust Jeff to be a professional guy when it comes to his reviews. I was just surprised to see this on the front page, and rather then making a thread about it I figured I would just post in the comments here saying that I was surprised.
You agree that they are professional, then you go on to write 3-4 lines that you question there ability to look past private matters and be professional.  
 
I really dont see what the fuzz is about.
Posted by Winsord

This was the score I was expecting, and I'm happy for the guys at Double Fine. Tried the trial this morning and really enjoyed it, I'll probably pick it up when there's something else I want to buy too, since otherwise I have to buy like $30 of Microsoft points just for Trenched (which totally might actually be worth it).

Posted by Jeff

@Mumrik said:

Damn Jeff. Why would you review the games (Trenched and Bastion) that you've so clearly championed? You've made it obvious through the special coverage that you at GB have an especially close relationship with the devs of these games. I'm sure you're capable of setting that aside when you review the product, but that's not really relevant at all. I know plenty of people here disagree with me, but I really think you should leave it at the QLs and other material with these games.

I would be interested to hear specific examples from you of spots where I've "clearly championed" Trenched.

Edited by crusader8463
@Henrikhoe said:

@crusader8463 said:

@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
@Henrikhoe said:
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interest.
thats just stupid to say  like gb arent professional
I knew that was going to be the first thing some one said. Sigh...   I never claimed they were. I just said that I figured they would have opted not to review it like Bastion given how friendly they are with the guys since they meet at some event.
Still, you cant be in this line of work withoug being profesional.  I urge you two listen to the E3 2011 podcast, where double fine was guest, this topic was discussed.   The question was (to jeff): Do you find harder to review games now that you have gotten more insight in the development process and gotten friends with some developers (something like that)  Jeff says: No, because i put the consumers first...... (and then he said some more stuff)  So ye. There is a good 15-20 min discussion about reviewing games, how developers feel etc in that bombcast.  Then again, most game reviews are subjective opinions. If you look past the objective technical stuff like framerate etc.
I never claimed he wasn't professional about it, and I did watch the E3 stuff, I'm just saying that I had figured that they would have not done an official review and just kept it to their opinions on the bombcast and other places given how close they are with the guys and how someone may potentially try to call them on that relationship. I trust Jeff to be a professional guy when it comes to his reviews. I was just surprised to see this on the front page, and rather then making a thread about it I figured I would just post in the comments here saying that I was surprised.
You agree that they are professional, then you go on to write 3-4 lines that you question there ability to look past private matters and be professional.   I really dont see what the fuzz is about.
I never said he wouldn't be professional. I said I can see how someone would think that way, and to just not deal with it why they would opt to not review it given how close they are with the developers. I have no idea why this conversation has had to go on for so long. I made it pretty clear in the first post, yet somehow everyone took it as being some horrendous insult about Jeffs ability to review.
Posted by Osaladin

This game looks like a fun time with my buddies, nice review!

Posted by The_Nubster
@Jeff said:

@Mumrik said:

Damn Jeff. Why would you review the games (Trenched and Bastion) that you've so clearly championed? You've made it obvious through the special coverage that you at GB have an especially close relationship with the devs of these games. I'm sure you're capable of setting that aside when you review the product, but that's not really relevant at all. I know plenty of people here disagree with me, but I really think you should leave it at the QLs and other material with these games.

I would be interested to hear specific examples from you of spots where I've "clearly championed" Trenched.

I'm with you on that. I can't recall any spots where either Bastion or Trenched have been championed by anyone on the site, unless covering a game automatically means it's your favourite ever.
Edited by TheGTAvaccine

Just finished the trial. Definitely going to be getting the full version.

Posted by EpicSteve

Great game so far. However, the two matches I tried were unplayable due to framerate

Posted by c_rakestraw
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interests given all the stuff you guys have and are going to be doing with them.   Not claiming any of that did affect the score or any of that, but I figured you guys would have taken the same approach as you are with Bastion just to be safe.
I think the difference between this and Bastion is that, unlike Bastion, Giant Bomb hasn't been closely following the process of developing Trenched, nor are they close friends with anyone there. All they've done is get the devs to drop by for a demo or to guest on the Bombcast. Kind of a friendly but still professional relationship.
Posted by nukesniper

Why is everyone questioning the credibility of this review? If anyone on the internet, I expect the guys at giantbomb to tell me the truth on this. Even then, Trenched is not one of those games they have been crazy about. They've been excited, sure, but bitching about this would be like hating on a favorable Uncharted 3 review when they like it already because Uncharted 2 was awesome. It doesn't make sense.



Sure the guys like Double Fine, but does that mean that they don't like all the other devs out there? I fail to see the connection. I can see the concern with Bastion, but only barely. Would anyone here seriously lie about a game because they like those guys rather than be truthful and not make us, the readers, hate them for deception?



Thanks for the review, Jeff. I look forward to checking out Trenched. It totally sounds like a game that is going to scratch the right orchestra for me.

Posted by Wuddel

Still keep fingers crossed for PC (or even PSN release).

Posted by thornie_delete

@C_Rakestraw said:

@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interests given all the stuff you guys have and are going to be doing with them. Not claiming any of that did affect the score or any of that, but I figured you guys would have taken the same approach as you are with Bastion just to be safe.
I think the difference between this and Bastion is that, unlike Bastion, Giant Bomb hasn't been closely following the process of developing Trenched, nor are they close friends with anyone there. All they've done is get the devs to drop by for a demo or to guest on the Bombcast. Kind of a friendly but still professional relationship.

You clearly did not watch the E3 live streams. GB and Double Fine are as close as anyone can be in the industry. I am surprised as well that this game got reviewed considering the close relationship they share. But at the end of the day it's Jeff's site and he can review/play any game he wants, and I can respect him for that as well.

Posted by JayDee

jeff get the fuck out this comment box

Posted by taugehz

It's a fair point to question reviews in some cases, but as @Zolfe said, just check other reviews from other sources. The Metacritic score for Trenched shows consistency.

If integrity really is the issue here, then Tron: Evolution should have gotten 5 stars.

Posted by crusader8463
@C_Rakestraw said:
@crusader8463 said:
I'm surprised you guys reviewed this given how buddy buddy you guys have gotten with the developers as of late. Figure you would have considered it a conflict of interests given all the stuff you guys have and are going to be doing with them.   Not claiming any of that did affect the score or any of that, but I figured you guys would have taken the same approach as you are with Bastion just to be safe.
I think the difference between this and Bastion is that, unlike Bastion, Giant Bomb hasn't been closely following the process of developing Trenched, nor are they close friends with anyone there. All they've done is get the devs to drop by for a demo or to guest on the Bombcast. Kind of a friendly but still professional relationship.
I can see how people would think differently about the friends thing though. They did a QL with them for a game that they had nothing to do with, they invited them to the E3 shows, plus all the stuff you mentioned and the TNT tomorrow with the guys.
 
Anyway I'm done trying to explain myself. Everyone takes everything I say as some personal insult towards Jeff and his ability to review games and has to rally to his defence, so I'm just going to stop. All I have been saying is that I can see how someone could make the argument for them being too close with them, and that I was surprised they did the review becasue of that. They usually just wash their hands of games in situations like that and keep it to just the Bombcast for their opinions just to be on the safe side.
Posted by onan

@Jeff said:

@Mumrik said:

Damn Jeff. Why would you review the games (Trenched and Bastion) that you've so clearly championed? You've made it obvious through the special coverage that you at GB have an especially close relationship with the devs of these games. I'm sure you're capable of setting that aside when you review the product, but that's not really relevant at all. I know plenty of people here disagree with me, but I really think you should leave it at the QLs and other material with these games.

I would be interested to hear specific examples from you of spots where I've "clearly championed" Trenched.

It's pretty clearly spelled out on pages 3-26 and 43-118 of his DoubleFine/GiantBomb slash fiction. I honestly don't know how Luchadeer can show his face in the office anymore after what happened. I guess that's why he got the mask.

Posted by MisterMouse

good review, cant wait to see the TNT!

Posted by Godlyawesomeguy
@JayDee said:
jeff get the fuck out this comment box
Yeah, he should get the fuck off his own site. What a dick.
Edited by Portis

I'm really surprised Giant Bomb even reviewed this, for various pretty obvious reasons.

Not that I don't trust our editor duders, but man if they trashed this game -- how amazingly awkward (great?) would TNT have been this week?

Posted by c_rakestraw
@thornie said:

You clearly did not watch the E3 live streams. GB and Double Fine are as close as anyone can be in the industry. I am surprised as well that this game got reviewed considering the close relationship they share. But at the end of the day it's Jeff's site and he can review/play any game he wants, and I can respect him for that as well.

No, but I did catch the audio versions. Didn't get that vibe, but I may have missed something (happens a lot while trying to browse the Web and listen to a podcast simultaneously; not recommended).
 
Still, they didn't follow the game from inception to release like they've been doing with Bastion, so that's likely a reason for why that isn't getting a review but this did. If I remember right, they're decision not to review Bastion was based a lot on the assumption that they'd be too close to the project by the time it was done. Probably feared that would result in a unintentionally-skewed review. Plus, if I remember right, Jeff did say that simply knowing developers hasn't impacted his ability to review games impartially on the E3 Bombcasts.
Posted by Mumrik
@onan said:

@Jeff said:

@Mumrik said:

Damn Jeff. Why would you review the games (Trenched and Bastion) that you've so clearly championed? You've made it obvious through the special coverage that you at GB have an especially close relationship with the devs of these games. I'm sure you're capable of setting that aside when you review the product, but that's not really relevant at all. I know plenty of people here disagree with me, but I really think you should leave it at the QLs and other material with these games.

I would be interested to hear specific examples from you of spots where I've "clearly championed" Trenched.

It's pretty clearly spelled out on pages 3-26 and 43-118 of his DoubleFine/GiantBomb slash fiction. I honestly don't know how Luchadeer can show his face in the office anymore after what happened. I guess that's why he got the mask.

Bla bla. Anyway, I have no idea why you'd say that GB hasn't promoted Bastion when they've done a weekly show about the game.
 
Anyway, Jeff pointed two things out in a private message:
1) Bastion won't get a review. I guess they said that in a Bastion show too. That's good to hear, I guess the people claiming they were going to review it are full of crap.
2) Jeff personally doesn't have a close relationship with the Trenched team. Ryan did that coverage...
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