Oh Super Trench Attack, you cheeky devil. You exasperated harlequin. How easy it would have been to just look at you and dismiss you straight away, to judge your book by your squiggly cover and deliver a verdict of “Really?” And then I played you. Oh gods, what have I gotten myself into?
Super Trench Attack could be best described a a weird hybrid child of Dr. Katz and Hogan's Heroes, only based in World War I. Its war as seen through a propaganda poster, existing in the world behind Uncle Sam's furled brow and ever-pointing finger. The world is presented from an isometric view point, and strays from this view only when showing you a conversation, or when... well, we'll get to that later.
In this world, you take control of one courageous recruit, who I named Mac, waiting for the bus, girly magazine in hand, to “Summer Camp,” a Green Army staging area which has recently been invaded D-Day style by the Black Army. Laughing at you when you arrive and explaining that you're a new recruit, you are quickly dropped off, handed a gun, and assigned to combat training.
Training is run by your run-of-the-mill movie drill instructor, a hard ass “that's hard to please” as Mac puts it, even as he excels at the exercises, like shooting cardboard cut outs of Black Army soldiers, or using the space bar to slash at them with your knife. From their, once the sergeant has decided that you won't kill yourself, you are told to report to HQ for a mission.
In true rebel soldier fashion, I decided instead to explore “Summer Camp.” I witnessed the muted green of the standing tents, checked out the local shop, marked “SHOP” in white paint on the top of the tent. I found my tent, which included a cot for sleeping (there's a day/night cycle of all things, and sleeping replenishes your health), a medal box (in-game achievements), and a stats board (I cut a lot of fools!). Also of note is the presence of only one building, marked Armory, which is about the size and shape of an outhouse. The drill sergeant from training handles all weapon upgrades from this.. cozy... location.
Having had my fill of the local flavor, I directed Mac to the HQ. His commanding officer, who is not named, is a pretty, squigly, red head whose thick Scottish accent is written out phonetically. She seems to know what she is doing, and quickly assigns you your first mission, going out to the beach to destroy the Black Army's hastily erected radio towers. She hands you a handful of stick grenades, and sends you off.
From here, the demo turns into a fun move/point/shoot affair. The beachhead is filled with various Black Army regulars, who are easily dispatched with a well placed shot to the head, or a couple to the body. There's no real gore to speak of, which is actually a nice change given some cartoon-like games' recent penchant for simply over doing the gore in an attempt at comedy. A foot shot stuns incoming soldiers for a second, causing them to grab the affected limb.
Occasionally, you run into heavy soldiers, who are quite literally heavy (read: fat), as well as the occasional shield-bearing troop. I had a lot of trouble with these, until I remembered the foot shot, which drops their, shield allowing you to either pump them full of led, or cut them with a well-placed knife strike. In fact, the knife is probably the most hilarious feature of Super Trench Attack, as Mac is apparently so surgically precise with his cuts, that he only cuts off the enemies clothes. Left to only a pair of boxer shorts, the enemy unit dies... of embarrassment.
The demo included a few more missions, such as taking back bunkers filled with the requisite exploding barrels, and even introduces Monkey Troops, little monkey's dressed in sailor outfits that rush at you in groups. They're easily dropped, taking only a bullet each, but their group numbers often mean you'll be sprinting away from them while shooting. Or you could just run roughshod into their ranks, smashing the space bar until you've cut the sailor outfits off of all those little bastards. Your choice.
Earlier, I mentioned that there were only two times when game breaks from it's isometric perspective. This happens when you enter a shop or conversation, and when Super Trench Attack decides to get all Hogan's Alley on you, dropping you into a first person shooting gallery. Soldiers pop up from behind barrels, out of doorways, and even up from the bottom of the screen. You're given an infinite amount of bullets, but only 5 shots before you have to reload. Fast reaction times are necessary, as the soldiers pop out and fire almost immediately. Most take only one shot, though there is an absolutely hilarious boss encounter that has you pumping more then 60 rounds, in 5 shot bursts, into the captain of a battleship before he finally gives up.
The whole demo I played lasted about 2 hours. Most of the humor came across pretty well, though there were just as many groans as hard chuckles. The conversation pieces that begin every shop visit get old quickly, and the ability to only purchase one box of bullets each trip was a bit annoying. There are also these little vignettes that play during loading scenes, but I can't quite tell what there purpose is, since they all have a prominent skip button in the lower right hand corner. Some are funny the first time, some are more just establishing shots of where you're going, but after the 10th time seeing them, I couldn't mash on that skip button fast enough.
With this being only a demo, I am pretty content with the time I spent playing Super Trench Attack. It wasn't mind blowing in anyway, but I am intrigued enough to look forward to the full game, when it's released on September 1st.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!