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Trenches II

Hunkering down with Trenches II

1:30 PM on 12.01.2011 // Wesley Ruscher

Get ready, yet again, to man the trenches this month when Trenches II marches its way onto iOS-enabled devices. War never changes, war never dies, and war will always be a part of the video game landscape, but that's okay, because war -- in the virtual world -- is fun.

EA was showing off a bevy of new and upcoming iOS-based games recently and I had a chance to give this World War I inspired tower defense game a nice look over. Fans of the original should be excited, as the team at Thunder Game Works have made sure that their sequel is more than just a casual update.

Trenches II (iphone, iPad [Previewed])
Developer: Thunder Game Works
Publisher: Electronic Arts Inc.
Release: December, 2011

First off, I think it might be time I finally splurged for an iPad -- or at the very least put it on my Xmas list -- as so many of these current and upcoming iOS experiences just seem better suited for Apple's larger, sexier device. Trenches II is one of those games. It looks better on the bigger screen and any finicky controls -- that may plague someone with fat fingers on an iPhone -- are almost nonexistent thanks to the increased control space. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the game is just as exceptional on an iPhone; it's just after seeing it all big and beautiful, I kind of want to toss my phone in the trash.

For those unfamiliar with the previous Trenches, the series takes place in a fictional early 1900s war setting -- complete with the British, German, and French battling it out for world supremacy. As a mix between tower defense and the castle attack genre, that has been one of the dominating styles of games on touch devices, the original Trenches stood out from the pack with its tight navigation-style controls -- think Flight Control -- and humorously charming aesthetics.

With two years having passed since the original, Trenches II has incorporated the feedback from the first game to make sure it's another stand-out hit. The single-player campaign looks massive, with 53 locations to skirmish across, and it is completely non-linear. The map I was shown was a fairly intricate ordeal. Trenches, barbed wire fences, and other barricades littered the battleground -- adding an extra level of strategy to each encounter. Like wars of past, trenches are used to gain a defensive stronghold on enemy troops, but obstacles, such as wire fences, actually impede troop movement which under stressful circumstances can leave them vulnerable to enemy attack.

Over twenty different units have made the cut, including the addition of a few new types: cavalry, flamethrower, and tank. Of these new units, I had a chance to witness the brutal firepower of the flamethrower class. The animations in Trenches II have been nicely improved and the flamethrower class really showcases this with its devastating mid-ranged arsenal. They are not the only spectacular attack in the game, as, along with the units classes, the artillery strikes have also received seen some new accompaniments. Fire bombs, biplane strafing runs, and even deadly rail guns join the foray to help vary the tactics at disposal.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to Trenches II's strategy is in its perk system. There are 37 upgrades -- falling under the offensive, defensive, support categories -- that can be purchased from earning perk points or flat out won during certain battles. They range from better weapons for troops to more strategic elements, like the merchant of death perk that accelerates the rate of currency generation -- key for deploying troops (they cost money)faster on the battlefield.

Beyond the single-player campaign, Trenches II will also support cooperative gameplay, local and online (via Origin) multiplayer skirmishes -- deathmatch and king of the trench mode to name a few -- and, practically a requirement for the war genre nowadays, zombie waves. It's an enormous amount of gaming ammunition crammed into a very small package, but for fans of the first encounter (or those looking for a whole lot of bang for their buck) get ready, as the wait is almost over.

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Wesley Ruscher, Former Contributor
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