Moving from a touch device to the Mac can cause hell for developers and gamers alike, especially when porting over the controls. Trenches: Generals is a perfect example of a game that performs and plays well on the iPhone or iPad, but just doesn’t seem right with a mouse in your hand. Although there are better control methods out there, Thunder Game Works seems to try and make what worked on the touch screen, work on the Mac. Unfortunately, what you get is fundamentally a good game, but with frustratingly clunky controls that makes playing Trenches a battle, not against the opposing side, but against the control system itself.
Trenches: Generals is set in World War II where you’re given a long rectangular battlefield, fit with trenches and barbed wire. Your aim is to conquer the opposite side of the battlefield and you do this by sending troops into no man’s land, the space in between the two bases.
The results is a tug-of-war scenario where you and your opponent battle it out by sending more and more units into the battlefield. There are many different troops you are able to utilise, including snipers, a machine gunners and mortar men, each with their own weapon set and abilities. You can also use trenches to your advantage, by building spawn bases and using them as valuable cover. But if you’re really getting desperate, then enlist the help of a mortar or gas strike to push the enemy back.
Trenches aims to be a casual strategy game. Whereas it certainly won’t rival a real-time strategy game, it will require a bit of thought into what units to spawn and how to organise them.
But herein lies the game’s two main flaws. The afore mentioned mortar and gas strikes easily dash any hope of any real strategy. They can be used anywhere on the battlefield and make quick work of any bunker or trench you have to hide your soldiers. It’s almost impossible to keep any of your units in one place without them being blown into oblivion by the cheap and easily available mortar strikes at the enemy’s disposal. This forces you to adopt an ‘advance as fast as you can’ tactic with no chance of any real strategic effort accessible to you. Although I don’t condone the use of mortar altogether, the enemy use them far too regularly and having to constantly move your troops out of its range detracts from the actual combat which is enjoyable.
And this takes me onto the game’s second flaw: the controls. You are only given three commands to control all of your units on the field. Forward, Hold, Retreat. And yes, these actions affect all of your troops, no matter where they are. If you want to move three or four units from a trench, you will have to select each one individually and then drag a path for them to follow. This makes for a very disjointed and frustrating control scheme that renders planned attack almost impossible. It’s either all in or one at a time.
Other than the game’s campaign which takes you from battlefield to battlefield with different rules and layouts, there is also a very detailed custom game feature. This enables you to select the game mode, what units are available and how many trenches the map has. If you want, you can even restrict the use of mortar strikes which I appreciated. Once you complete the campaign, there is a special zombie mode which is definitely worth a look. The game looks and sounds great also, with an interesting art style that suits the game well.
Trenches: Generals promises to be a fun, engaging, casual strategy game but fails to deliver, only to frustrate. These flaws can be easily amended in some cases, but at the moment, this is a somewhat dissatisfying experience that may not be worth the purchase.
Publisher: Thunder Game Works
Description: A Side Scroller Combat with Strategy
Pros: Good ideas with great graphical implementation, custom game options, a fair amount of content.
Cons: Enemy spams strikes, controls are very clunky, strategy suffers.