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Iron Brigade (formerly Trenched) is a co-operative third-person shooter/tower defense hybrid developed by Double Fine and published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade) on June 22, 2011.

Built on Double Fine's Buddha engine, the game puts up to four players in powerful, hulking, customizable bipedal tanks (known as "mobile trenches") as they must fortify their defenses (using Turrets) and endure waves of television-based machines (known as "Monovisions" or "Tubes") in a goofy alternate-historical post-WW1 world.

The story involves two war-time codebreakers, Frank Woodruff and Vladamir Farnsworth, who gain superintelligence from a mysterious alien transmission (known as "the Broadcast"). While Frank develops the mobile trench (as walking platforms for disabled soldiers), Vlad invents the television (years ahead of its proper time) and becomes obsessed with "networking the world" by covering it with cables. Frank retaliates by developing the Mobile Trench Brigade (whose mobile command base is an aircraft carrier).

On February 1, 2012, the game received its sole paid DLC pack: Rise of the Martian Bear. Along with an increased level cap, 80+ new pieces of loot (including costumes resembling Double Fine's other games, such as Costume Quest and Stacking), two new Survival missions, and three new enemies, the DLC includes a new five-mission epilogue campaign where the Mobile Trench Brigade must make their mobile command base space-worthy and blast off to Mars to put the finishing blow on the Monovision army.

The game was later ported to the PC and released digitally via Steam on August 13, 2012. Along with including the game's DLC for free, this version supports Games for Windows - Live functionality (which was later switched to Steamworks after Double Fine regained full publishing rights on May 26, 2015).


A Mobile Trench.
A Mobile Trench.

Gameplay in Iron Brigade consists of two primary activities. The first is building and maintaining defence structures to protect the base, as in a tower defence game. The second is actively combating enemy waves by taking direct control of a Trench and fending them off. Effective gameplay requires both elements be used in tandem, with defensive turrets placed in positions to assist the players as they fight off the encroaching enemies. A matchmaking system which supports public, friend, and party play allows for up to four players to cooperatively play the game's missions with each other online.

There are fifteen levels which are evenly distributed between Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, each composed of four missions followed by a boss fight.

As players progress, they gain levels and earn items on the battlefield. Money earned from missions and by completing challenges can be spent in the store. Items can be used to customize the player's Trenches. Players are also able to customize their player characters.


Two war time codebreakers, Frank Woodruff and Vladamir Farnsworth, receive an alien transmission-- referred to only as "the Broadcast." The other codebreakers who heard it had their brains fried, but Frank and Vlad gained superintelligence from it. Frank goes on to make robot legs for war time heroes so they can be mobile after the war, while Vlad invents the television years ahead of its proper time, and becomes obsessed with networking the world. He releases robots made of said television tubes to lay cables across the world to network the entire planet.

In Europe, Frank discovers that the robots, dubbed Monovisions, have begun destroying everything that lies in the path of the cables they wish to lie, regardless of the cost in Human lives. When all traditional military forces are defeated, Frank expands the scope of his robot legs project to create enormous bipedal war platforms, designed so that each soldier is protected by his own "mobile trench". Using these Trenches, Frank leads the battle against the Monovisions, and manages to gain a foothold against the "tube" invasion. Gaining back ground, along with new intel, the newly-christened Mobile Trench Brigade pushes onward until they have enough leverage to commence an attack on what seems to be the source of the Broadcast by destroying a Pylon in the northern region. Successfully neutralizing it, a greater truth is revealed upon the discovery of a much larger cable which leads underseas towards Africa, which has now been entirely taken over by the Tubes, while the Brigade was focused on the battle elsewhere.

Suspecting that the Pylon in Europe was a product of some greater entity, Frank's outfit follows the cable south to Africa and begins to take back land starting in the desert, beginning with a small-yet-inhabitable oasis. After reclaiming more ground, another attempt at penetrating enemy forces is made by acquiring much more powerful firepower with a ship's cannon, and deploying a giant bomb underground in order to disrupt the Tube infrastructure. Successfully crippling most of the opposition, Vlad's newest behemoth creation lies in wait: a massive worm-like Monovision referred to as the Guardian. Upon taking Farnsworth's desert fortress and defeating the Guardian, a final push is initiated in order to track down Vlad once and for all.

The Brigade returns to the Pacific region, where Frank first met Vlad twenty years prior to the current engagement. Frank discovers that Vlad has been searching for the origin of the Broadcast as well, in his obsession of understanding and controlling the Tubes. The Brigade subsequently gathers necessary equipment in the region (some which has been left behind by Vlad), in order to assemble and operate the technology which will help discern Vlad's location. After using the top of a volcano to generate a signal which pinpoints Farnsworth, the Brigade confronts him for a final showdown.

Vlad's obsession with the Monovisions and the Broadcast have helped him to assimilate a monstrous alien machine, which he hopes to use to destroy the Brigade, and all others who resist, but it is no match for the quick-witted Trench pilots of the Brigade. After the destruction of this robot, Vlad's corpse is retrieved from inside it; his body has withered away and atrophied from all the time spent exposing himself to the tubes. Frank wonders what fate awaits him, as he reflects on the consequences Vlad had incurred, and notes that while the battle was won, he is not sure the war is over.

It is discovered that Vlad's death triggered a program in which an electronic copy of his mind was downloaded into the brain of his pet bear, who now attempts to rebuild Vlad's Tube empire on the foreign soil of the planet Mars, where it will not be disturbed by pesky Humans until it is too late for them to stop him. The Mobile Trench Brigade responds by reverse-engineering Monovision technology to make their mobile command base space-worthy, and blasts off to Mars to take the fight to the Martian Bear.


The player has the ability to fully customize their Mobile Trench unit, from weapons to body types, all the way down to legs. Each Part has different stats that can effect how the player can effect the battle field. A player may want to go full engineer and place lots of turrets or go full force with a Trench capable of 3 weapon slots on each side. Players have many choices when it comes to taking on the Monovisions.

The weapon categories the player can choose from include machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers, sniper cannons, artillery cannons, and broadcasters. Machine guns are ideal for close to medium range combat with many smaller enemies and ones with the flak ability are used against aerial enemies. Shotguns are primarily used in short range situations with fewer, stronger enemies. Grenade launchers are an explosive class used to disperse clustered groups and targets with additional armor. Sniper cannons deal with threats that are farther away or ones that require additional accuracy and high amounts of damage. Artillery cannons are mainly used to take the armor off of breakers but can be used on all enemies somewhat effectively. Finally, broadcasters are used to absolutely destroy enemies up close (excellent against the knobs).

The player can buy items in the shop. Or get lucky and get them as drops in the missions.

Marine Items (Hat)

RankItem NameCost
1PSI GogglesChallenge Reward
2Chemical Mask$100
2Private Helmet$100
2Trench Pot$100
3Trench Helmet$300
3Sailor Hat$200
4HeadsetChallenge Reward
4Sergeant CapChallenge Reward
4Blast CapChallenge Reward
4Bowler Hat$300
4Standard Helmet$400
5Pith Helmet$500
5Desert Hat$500
6Red BandanaChallenge Reward
6Flight HelmetChallenge Reward
7SunglassesChallenge Reward
8Gas Mask$900
8Tiki MaskChallenge Reward
9Special Forces Mask$1,200
10Dress HatChallenge Reward
10Top Hat$10,000

Marine Items (Outfit)

RankItem NameCost
1Standard UniformDefault
1Raz SweaterChallenge Reward
2Battle Shirt$200
2Anchor Shirt$300
3Military Coat$200
4Field Officer JacketChallenge Reward
4Flak Jacket$500
5Trench ArmorChallenge Reward
5Special Forces JacketChallenge Reward
5Bomber JacketChallenge Reward
5Ghillie SuitChallenge Reward
5Hunter JacketChallenge Reward
6Radio JacketChallenge Reward
7Regiment Coat$700
10Dress UniformChallenge Reward
TBDAviator JacketChallenge Reward
TBDRipped ShirtChallenge Reward

Core Items (Chassis)

RankItem NameChassis TypeSlots (L x R)ArmorSpeedCost
1Woodruff Mk IStandard2 x 23030$400
1McGarry Mk IAssault3 x 24818$500
1Selker Mk IEngineering1 x 12522$400
2Selker Mk IIEngineering1 x 13022$700
2Woodruff Mk IIStandard2 x 23620$600
3Karlsson Mk IAssault3 x 36918$1,200
5Selker Mk IIIEngineering1 x 13622$1,,400
5Karlsson Mk IIAssault3 x 38318$1,,800
5Hamer Mk IStandard3 x 05220$1,400
5Honeychurch Mk IEngineering2 x 03622$1,000
5Woodruff Mk IIIStandard2 x 25220$1,000
6McGarry Mk IIAssault3 x 26918$1,000
6Hamer Mk IIStandard3 x 06220$2,100
6Honeychurch Mk IIEngineering2 x 04422$1,600
7McGarry Mk IIIAssault3 x 210018TBD
7Hamer Mk IIIStandard3 x 07520TBD
7Honeychurch Mk IIIEngineering2 x 06322TBD
7Karlsson Mk IIIAssault3 x 310018$2,400
8Woodruff Mk IVStandard2 x 27520TBD
Selker Mk IV
Karlsson Mk IV
1 x 1
3 x 3

Core Items (Paintjob)

RankItem NameCost
1Olive Paintjob$100
3Blue Paintjob$300
3Urban Paintjob$400
4Red Paintjob$400
4Gray Paintjob$400
5Splinter Paintjob$500
5Desert Camo Paintjob$500
6Yellow Paintjob$600
6Black PaintjobChallenge Reward
7Lozenge Reward$700
8Jungle Camo Paintjob$800
9Dazzle PaintjobChallenge Reward
10Bling PaintjobChallenge Reward

Core Items (Legs)

RankItem NameAbilityCost
1Biped LegsNone$300
2Sprinting Biped LegsSprint$500
2Quickload Tripod LegsQuickload$600
4Quadruped LegsSmash$900
4Standard Tripod LegsFortify/Quickload$900
5Stunning LegsStun Smash$1,400
5Speedy Biped LegsSprint+$1,000
6Defensive Tripod LegsFortify++$1,300
7Advanced Tripod LegsFortify+/QuickloadTBD
7Hot PantsExplosive SprintTBD
7Long Stunning LegsStun Smash+$1,600

Legal Troubles and Re-branding

Upon its initial North American release, Iron Brigade was originally entitled Trenched. However, the subsequent release of the game in Europe met with a legal battle regarding trademark conflict. The trademark to the name "Trench" is currently held by the creator of a World War I-inspired board game registered in Portugal. Due to the way European law works, the trademark also covers basic variants on the title, giving the board game creator the rights to the name "Trenched" as well. Various trademark agreements in place between the European Union countries mean that the trademark ownership is extended throughout most of the European region.

Microsoft chose to avoid a legal battle by releasing Trenched under the name "Iron Brigade" in Europe. However, due to embarrassing coding issues within Xbox Live, this change to the game made it incompatible for multiplayer games with the North American version, Trenched. On September 9th, 2011, Brad Muir regretfully announced that the game would be renamed Iron Brigade across all regions. An updated version of the game was later released in North America with the Iron Brigade name.

PC System Requirements

  • System: Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo at 2 GHz, or AMD Athlon 64 at 2 GHz
  • Memory: 1GB
  • Video Card: 256 MB NVidia 8800+, ATI 3850+
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
  • Hard disk: 1.8 GB

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