Fans of online flash games will surely know Armor Games' "Warfare 1917" where you command a number of soldiers to win enemy territory taking their positions. Trenches [iTunes Link] by Thunder Games Works uses the same concept and makes some tweaks to adapt it to the iPhone platform. This is their first game and they have been teasing the gaming scene with screenshots, sound effects and contests, managing to release it for the Holiday Season.
Trenches brings you to the British battalion in World War I, where you combat in the battlefield against the Central Powers, well, the German army. The goal here is to command your troops to the right end of the screen eliminating all the soldiers in your way.
Similarly to the flash game and other strategy and time management games, you can purchase troop reinforcements during the battle using coins. As usual warfare games, more sophisticated or stronger troops have a higher price and a longer spawn time. There is a range of riflemen, officers, machine gun men, snipers and mortar to combat with, plus the always handy air strikes.
The game is set horizontally to move back and forward scrolling over the sky. Penetrating enemy territory will earn you coins, so its vital you keep your position at all cost. You can always plan and send scout soldiers to get some extra cash or leave all your troops in one trench. There is no option to sneak in, you'll need to kill everyone and use the obstacles such as barb wire and trenches for your advantage. The computer AI is worth mentioning, and even in the easy level is fairly creative and unpredictable. You set this in the game settings.
Trenches has a line drawing element as well. You can command individual troops with a Flight Control drag and drop style, although I found it irrelevant. Soldiers don't need to be in front of each other to get killed. Your rifleman in the bottom of the screen will get shot by a sniper on the top of the screen even if the guy has a freeway to the trench in front of him. The same happens when troops advance, since you can't progress until everyone is killed.
The game has a cute cartoony look and I guess it is relatively family friendly being rated +12. There are some blood splashes and body explosions taken in a easy to digest way suitable for a younger audience. Backgrounds change with missions and if you get tired of killing the Germans, you can choose to kill Zombies. If a great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. This one leaves as well an army of… ZOMBIES!! This is a nice touch and adds to the survival skirmish mode that I really enjoyed. Once again I can imagine the production team: "People like zombies, can we include them there?". I did like them!
My main criticism to the game goes for the simplified tactics that need to be used. I finished the campaign mode in less than thirty minutes. In similar games morale has effect on the troops and in the completion of the mission, so the flash game is actually more complex, not necessarily more fun. The troop management is quite poor since you have to select every unit independently, which doesn't work so well in skirmish mode when you have ten troops of each type. You can't count them anyway. During my testing I got the game to crash in skirmish mode with a +1200 score with a lot of zombies a coming and a a lot of troops shooting at the same time. When the score was 150 I thought the iPhone 3GS would say no, but fought as my best seargent.
Tenches is a cool time waster that unites strategy and survival elements that have been successful in the iPhone platform. It is not original but it is very well produced and will bring hours of fun. There is still room for improvement and new content. I would like to see advanced tactics, bunkers and artillery there. Where is the Mark tank guys? With regular updates, this can become a must have.
App Store's best iPhone apps and games
I love good iOS apps, baked beans and children that don't do their homework. This is where I comment on the latest App Store candy with all the details you don't really need to know.