majormitch's Trenched (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

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Hut, two, three...

I’ve always appreciated Double Fine’s sense of humor and quick wit, but haven’t always felt like their games are necessarily fun to play. Trenched seemed like the kind of game that could challenge that preconception, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fun the game really is. Trenched rolls a lot of neat ideas together in a slick way, and is indeed a blast to play.

Trenched is easily described as mech combat meets tower defense. The mechs you pilot control well and are fun to drive, and can be equipped with a wide variety of weapons that you’ll use in some frantic, fast paced combat. You can also lay down a whole host of defensive turrets during missions, which not only leads to the game’s convenient descriptor, but also adds a ton of customizability to what might otherwise be a dull, repetitive shooter. The number of ways you’re able to spec out your trench is fantastic- spending time between missions tweaking all sorts of variables is surprisingly engaging. Short range shotguns or long range sniper rifles? Versatile machine gun turrets or specialized anti-air flak cannons? A small chassis for more turrets or a big one for more guns? These decisions are at the core of what makes Trenched as good as it is, and you’ll spend a decent portion of the game making such deliberations.

Once you’ve made your choices and start a mission, however, it’s all about the action. Wave after wave of enemies will come at you quickly, as you frantically fend them off with whatever you have equipped. The flow of it all is quite exciting, and it’s pretty addictive to collect scrap from fallen foes to continually build and upgrade your turrets. That being said, I don’t like how little time you have between waves. It can be near impossible to pick up all that scrap and get set before the next wave starts coming in, which is pretty frustrating. It would also be nice to be able to skip the cut scenes that periodically interrupt the action, and the boss fights are pretty dumb. Turrets are useless in these short fights, which removes a lot of what makes the game so cool to begin with. Finally, Trenched just isn’t the same when playing solo, as the more players you have the more difficult and intricate the missions become. They can end up requiring a lot of coordination if you have a lot of players, which makes them much more dynamic and enjoyable than they are otherwise- almost to the point where it’s not worth it if you can’t play multiplayer. This is easily the game’s largest caveat, and is well worth consideration.

Of course, Double Fine’s patented humor and charm are also present and accounted for in Trenched. The writing is consistently sharp and the salutes are way more amusing than they have any right to be. But it’s the gameplay that makes it worth playing. It strikes a great balance between action oriented combat and strategic turret building, and throws in enough variables to make it entertaining throughout. If you have at least one friend to join you, Trenched is a great time that any fan of action games should appreciate.

For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.

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