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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Edited by antwane

I can't tell you how much fun I am having with this game. It is amazing. I would have giving it at 5/5 stars.

Posted by geirr

Geat job, Double Fine!

Now be GREATER-ER and put your damn games up on Steam!

Posted by Apollo87
@rebgav said:

@Apollo87 said:

I hope at some point this is released for PSN.

It's published by Microsoft.

So was Braid.
Posted by Bamsen

@YOJO117 said:

Will for sure buy this now! Was waiting for Jeff's review.. He seems to know what kind of games I like to play

ps -- All the haters can stfu

I second that, fuck off haters

Posted by dropabombonit

Good review, wish this was on PSN

Posted by prestonhedges
@MiniPato said:

They have a lot of friends in the games industry, but they have never let it affect review scores.

How would you know?
 
Anyway, who gives a shit? People who look at review scores to determine if a game is good or not are morons.
Posted by JohnPaulVann

The ONLY reason Jeff gave this game 4 stars is that Giantbomb is buddy buddy with Double Fine. Consider all the Quick Looks the developer has sat in on and the fact that some of them will be on TNT this week. We're witnessing corruption, folks. Trenched is shovelware plain and simple.

Posted by JohnPaulVann

Jeff is a cool guy and way sexxxy but it's clear that he's been bought by Double Fine. Why protest something so obvious? People who reject out of hand the possibility of his being biased are crushing too hard on GB's leader. 

Posted by MachoFantastico

@JohnPaulVann said:

The ONLY reason Jeff gave this game 4 stars is that Giantbomb is buddy buddy with Double Fine. Consider all the Quick Looks the developer has sat in on and the fact that some of them will be on TNT this week. We're witnessing corruption, folks. Trenched is shovelware plain and simple.

Don't be stupid, Jeff is respected as a great games journalist because he's honest often to the anger of publishers. If Trenched was a bad game he would tell you so. You just make yourself look stupid, especially when comparing his review with others on the web as Trenched as been highly regarded by a number of websites including Gamespot, Eurogamer and IGN.

Posted by megalowho

@JohnPaulVann said:

Jeff is a cool guy and way sexxxy but it's clear that he's been bought by Double Fine. Why protest something so obvious? People who reject out of hand the possibility of his being biased are crushing too hard on GB's leader.

As much as I hate to turn to Metacritic to prove a point, just look at Metacritic and the positive buzz this game is getting if you can't fathom objectivity on this site. Double Fine must have a lot of scratch to be able to buy so many reviewers. Or you can, you know, play the game yourself and form an actual informed opinion.

Posted by WerewolfGuy

I played through 7 of this game's 15 missions yesterday, and briefly with a few people. Lag and network errors seemed unavoidable, but then again that was first day so that will get fixed. Otherwise, I agree with Jeff's review. This bias nonsense really needs to stop.

Posted by Vexxan

I'll decide whether to buy this or not after tonight's TNT.

Posted by thornie_delete

@HassaniSabbah said:

I'd just like to clarify some of the comments I made in this thread regarding the Trenched controversy (or lack thereof), because I think it may have come off as hyperbolic and reactionary which was not my intent. Or, if you prefer, I'd like to backpedal slightly.

Having now read it I will say that the review itself is remarkably uncontroversial, which was to be expected. It was never my intent to cast apersions on or ascribe malicious intent to Jeff or any of the Giant Bomb staff, nor to question their professional integrity. In fact, this really has nothing to do with Trenched as a game or any of the members of the development team, who seem like stand-up gentlemen. I regret that the game itself has been unfairly roped into this discussion.

I want to reiterate that, to me anyway, this was never about GB's ability to give a "fair" review to a game made by people to which they have personal ties. Many people have given examples (most notably NBA Ballers and Tron: Legacy) of games that have received fair to middling reviews despite Jeff's personal friendship with Johnny V. To these people I say: Of course they are capable of putting aside personal relationships when it comes time for the review. They do this shit for a living, after all. They've done it for a long time and they do it very well.

My trepidation, which may have been somewhat presumptuous, was caused by the perception of a possible conflict of interest, real or otherwise, to which the GB staff seemed oblivious but which seems to exist within a vocal minority of the community. Obviously, the GB review staff is free to review whatever they wish and associate with whomever they please. If they weren't allowed to review games made by people they know, nothing would ever get reviewed.

So hopefully I didn't step on anyone's toes. Congrats to Double Fine for "shipping" Trenched, and thanks to Jeff for another fine review. I like this site; I wouldn't be here if I didn't. I bitch because I care.

- tl;dr

Great post! I agree 100% with everything you said and feel exactly the same way. People are so quick to jump down each others throats sometimes.

Posted by DarkTravesty
@Wuddel said:

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

it won't happen its a microsoft games studios release. so pc is extremely slim and psn is not happening.
Posted by FireSketch

This sounds great, the premise reminds me of a Vonnegut short.

Posted by GrandMarshal

i would be playing this but its broke in the UK

how can a game work for one region but not the other? stupidity

Posted by sixpin

Wow there is a lot of stupid in this comments thread. Good review Jeff. Look forward to checking out Trenched.

Edited by Jrinswand
@TrueEnglishGent said:

@JohnPaulVann said:

The ONLY reason Jeff gave this game 4 stars is that Giantbomb is buddy buddy with Double Fine. Consider all the Quick Looks the developer has sat in on and the fact that some of them will be on TNT this week. We're witnessing corruption, folks. Trenched is shovelware plain and simple.

Don't be stupid, Jeff is respected as a great games journalist because he's honest often to the anger of publishers. If Trenched was a bad game he would tell you so. You just make yourself look stupid, especially when comparing his review with others on the web as Trenched as been highly regarded by a number of websites including Gamespot, Eurogamer and IGN.

@megalowho said:

@JohnPaulVann said:

Jeff is a cool guy and way sexxxy but it's clear that he's been bought by Double Fine. Why protest something so obvious? People who reject out of hand the possibility of his being biased are crushing too hard on GB's leader.

As much as I hate to turn to Metacritic to prove a point, just look at Metacritic and the positive buzz this game is getting if you can't fathom objectivity on this site. Double Fine must have a lot of scratch to be able to buy so many reviewers. Or you can, you know, play the game yourself and form an actual informed opinion.

Come on, guys. Quit feeding the troll.
 
While I do think that Giant Bomb and the Double Fine guys have obviously become friends over the past several months (which is fine by me; I think Brad Muir and the others are a lot of fun to listen to), I agree with the others in this thread who have said that Giant Bomb should never let their personal relationships prevent them from fully covering a video game. I understand that Giant Bomb doesn't review every game that comes out because that's not their job as stated in their modus operandi, but to let personal relationships interfere with coverage of games in which the crew clearly has an interest would be a travesty. Personally, I have followed all of the coverage of Trenched over the past months and I still wanted to see a review of the game, especially since I'm considering purchasing an Xbox 360 in order to play it and a number of other XBLA-only games. It is towards consumers such as myself that this review is aimed, and I'm both glad and thankful for Giant Bomb's thorough coverage.
 
Edit: "Coverage," "coverage," "coverage," "coverage." Oh well. /shrug
Posted by REDRUN

Looking forward to playing with this game soon.

Posted by ImperiousRix

I definitely think the game's a lot of fun, which is paramount.  I love the customization, and playing with a group of duders last night was a good, hectic time. 
My one problem is that I can see there not being enough of the game.  Sure, it's fun playing with others and whatnot, but there's only so many levels that remain competitive when everybody's spec'd up.  Great game, I just wish there was more.

Posted by Jugnutts

Great game!

Posted by CVslyy

@GalacticPunt: He gave the game four stars. Which is a great score, but I do not believe that is him showing that he is clearly just giving the game a good score because he is good friends with the devs of the game. Jeff has been in this business for a very long time and I do not believe it is right to question his integrity. Also, double fine has proven that they are a developer who releases great games almost every time. I have not played Trenched, but I am willing to bet that the game is a lot fun. This is like telling someone they cannot be friends because they play for different professional sports team because one might throw the game so the other person's team can win the game.

Posted by TheWyotee93

Does everyone remember when  GB gave Tron legacy a crappy score? It's almost like they don't let being friends with developers get in the way of writing honest reviews. Weird.
Posted by ChickenPants
@OllyOxenFree said:

Almost everybody in these comments needs to shut the fuck up. Goddamn. Sometimes I just really hate the video game community so much.

This man speaks the truth.
Posted by samcotts

Y'all are acting like 1. this isn't receiving great scores elsewhere, and 2. 4 stars actually means something.

Crysis 2 received 4 stars.

The actual review is a lot more important anyway.

Edited by rwcohn

@vinsanityv22: First two were THQ, Trenched is MGS and Sesame Street is Warner Bros.

Speaking to the general fire in these comments, I don't think the issue is that Jeff (or any of the GB reviewers) is able to be bought out or pressured for better reviews, but rather that when you have such a close relationship with someone objectivity can be very difficult, even whilst feeling confident in your integrity. That being said, I don't think it's a concern given that Ryan was the one doing the fraternising in previous cases and Jeff was hardly involved.

And to the people saying that the TNT would have been awkward if the game had gotten a 2; from the previous Quick Look (and all of the footage of the game that we've seen) it's pretty obvious that even if Jeff hadn't scored it highly, the gameplay is definitely fun enough to sustain two hours of play and commentary (at least to the tastes of Ryan and Brad).

Either way, this review was solid and informative but I find it sad that Double Fine has had this same issue of content length/depth in every game. Those battles in Costume Quest started to get boring already in the Quick Look. They have great ideas and lots of heart, but Double Fine just doesn't make games that stay fresh for very long.

Edited by Coombs
This is a GREAT game 
and 4 stars is a perfect fit  

Edit: 
After reading many of these comments about corruption and how Trenched isn't that good, 
I couldn't help but look to see what achievements all the nay-sayers have unlocked in it, 
Guess what?   
None of them have played it,  Interesting.......  
 
Anyone wanna play tonight? 
 
Gamertag: xAAx Coombs
Edited by MiniPato

It's valid to question the review when there seems to be heavy video content of it on the site, but the people asking GB not to run a review of said games just because of that are stupid. And people accusing them of adjusting scores even more so. Unless they have a history of doing so, which they haven't (in fact this site was started because Jeff was against it), there's no reason to worry. And I don't see this as the start of such a trend in GB. Both Trenched and Bastion look like great games and I wouldn't be surprised if Bastion turns out to be a 4 star game and praised in other sites as well. I look at TRON and Dark Void and I think those games got the scores they deserved as well, despite both being games from regular Bombcast special guests John Vignocchi and Adam Boyes.

Bottom line is, I don't like that some people want GB to withhold a review just so as to save face when they've done nothing wrong and haven't done anything wrong in the past regarding the credibility of their reviews. And I don't see this as a slippery slope where they make it a regular practice of trading favors for stars.

All this conspiracy bullshit is just baseless conjecture and paranoia.

Posted by Raven6z

I really hope they port this to PC. It looks sooo good!

Posted by EngineNo9

Time to subjugate some history.

Posted by prestonhedges

So no one should ever question Giant Bomb ever?
 
Nah, bro, that's not how it works.

Posted by redlitez76

when is it out for psn?

Posted by EightBitShik

I enjoyed the game but again I am sad that Im finished so quick with almost a s rank in my first play through

Edited by neo1piv014

I'm not sure if you're allowed to mention price in your reviews, but for $15, this game is a steal. It's 1/4 the price of a normal game, and just the time I've spent playing it has made it feel close to a $60 game to me. It's fun playing through with an assault mech, then deciding you want to try out a bunch of levels with an engie mech. This game has just as much addicting replay value as one of those tower defense games, but you still get that awesome experience of stomping people with weaponry yourself.

Posted by MmaFanQc

*Salutes*

Posted by HURRyDURRy

This game reminds me of Monday Night Combat. Such promise.
 
I would buy Trenched @ $60 if it had a progressive leveling and difficulty system for the levels that scaled, adding challenges similar to any good tower defense game 
 
However, I purchased Monday Night Combat. I don't need another one, or even the first one. It was fun for 10 minutes and felt like a waste of money at $5.