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Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (DS)

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Manufacturer: Nintendo / Genre: Action & Adventure

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    6 Reviews
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      20.07.2011 12:48
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      Definitely recommended for strategy fans!

      The Advance Wars series has always been a solid and fun tactical gameplay experience for handheld consoles. For those not familiar with the series it is a turn-based game where you as the Commanding Officer (or CO) build up your army of units to beat the enemy force or capture their HQ on a set map, though on the campaign mode objectives may differ. This also involves dealing with terrain, fog of war and weather changes.

      For its second outing on the DS, Intelligent Systems has decided to go for a much darker tone in 'Advance Wars: Dark Conflict'. Whilst the three previous games focused less on the issues of war and more on the COs themselves in an 'Us vs Them' theme, 'Dark Conflict' immediately sets the edgier tone by beginning its story (in an alternate universe to the other games) with a global meteor shower and tidal waves wiping out most of the earth. We follow one of the last army battalions from one side of a war being fought before the global disaster, who are dedicated to helping out survivors and rebuilding society despite facing conflict from their former enemies, citizens and a new evil that has emerged from this disaster. It is generally a much deeper story compared to the other games so far; the main characters are very complex and decisions made aren't always the easiest choices morally.

      Gameplay is still the same as before but with quite a few major tweaks. Firstly CO powers have been greatly changed. Rather than having a bar which is charged up from hitting or taking damage from enemy units, you have the choice to put your CO actually in a unit to give that and units around it a power boost (known as a Command Zone). From there your CO must launch its power similarly to other games. This adds a nice challenge to the game because you aren't relying on CO powers to change the course of the game but more on your own strategy.

      Secondly there are new units, terrain and properties. The new units are quite varied, ranging from the Bike (an infantry unit with high movement range) to the Seaplane (a powerful air unit which can only be launched from the naval Carriers). Also units now gain experience for killing enemy units, and as they level up they gain a slight power boost. The APC of this game, now renamed the Rig, can construct temporary airbases and ports for resupplying air and naval units respectively on the go. New terrain as always can either give defense bonuses (e.g. mist, ruins) or is impassable (plasma, fire). All of this adds to the post-apopcalytic, darker atmosphere in this game.

      It is for this reason that the graphics also reflect a change in tone. Colours are mainly blue, dark purple or brown to show how gritty the game is, but it is by no means offputting. The same with the game's music which is much more guitar-heavy but still catchy for the most part. One thing I liked about the Advance Wars series is the music for each CO as well as CO powers that gets you pumped up to take on your enemy. The effect here does still reflect a character's personality well, where I'm happy to take the time to listen to the music rather than play as fast as possible!

      There is a lot of replay value overall. The main campaign is about 30 missions and thanks to a new map system you can go back and redo missions to get a higher ranking. Additionally there are T(trial) missions which are much harder than normal missions but will provide a greater challenge beyond the main game. That aside there are still the Versus and Multiplayer modes, so with the addition of Wi-fi there is so much to get out of this game.

      I feel this is a great game on many levels: good graphics, a great story and brilliant gameplay. Fans of the older Advance Wars games might find the change in tone a little jarring and what's more the difficulty has increased quite a bit which might put off newcomers to the franchise. Nevertheless strategy/AW fans have plenty to look forward to here if they're prepared for the challenge.

      (Also on Dooyoo under the username Anti_W)

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      09.09.2009 14:42
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      A very good Turn Based War game with a lasting challenge.

      This game is a turn based, strategic War Game. It is one of the sequels to the advance wars games from Game Boy advance & is the second for the Nintendo DS.

      The aim of the game on each level (or map as they are known in the game) is to either wipe out all opposing enemy troups, or capture the enemy HQ. Sometimes there are other victory conditions involved. These can be retain possesion of 20 cities or protect a specific air unit from being destroyed.

      The game works by allowing you to build your own forces. You choose which forces to deploy from Factories, Airports & Sea Ports. There are infantry divisions, tanks rockets. They are just on the ground. In the air there are Choppers & Fighters & at sea there are Battleships.

      The game has a lot to offer. In single player there are hundreds of maps to conquer. There is also a map designer. You can play this game for hours.

      Multi Player has loads of options too. Design your map & up load it to the internet for others to play. Download other peoples maps. Fight against friends with a copy of the game & even go online & take on the world. The only downside with multiplayer is that single card two player is missing. This was on the very first Game Boy Advance Game in the series so I know they can do it & it's absence is dissapointing.

      The game is easy to play & to understand. To master however takes a lot of doing. You will learn some warefare strategies from this game. The difficulty level gets very tough later in the game. It is great fun to play. You cherish every victory.

      Over all a very good game which is rated by one magazine as the second best game available on the console (Mario Kart being the best). You will have fun. Lots of options & extras to keep you going & functional graphics & sound. Plus with it being available for under a tenner it's pretty cheap too.

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      23.07.2009 21:49
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      Great game for the right person

      Advance wars - Dark conflict should be banned for being overly addictive. I honestly dread to think just how many hours I've spent in the past few weeks playing through all the different missions.

      For those new to the series let me warn you now - patience is a virtue. You can't simply build one tank then charge the enemy headquarters, there is a lot more to it than that which can lead to quite lengthy skirmishes. Those who only play FPS's and fast, high powered action games might as well go back to their Xboxes as they are not welcome in the tactical world of advance wars. Those still here rejoice, this is the best advance wars game in the series and arguably the best turn-based strategy game on the DS.

      There are 26 story missions and 38 "Trial maps" which are extra missions with no story attached. After completing one mission another may be unlocked, the trial maps can be completed in almost any order but you cannot proceed in the story missions until you have completed the previous one.

      After selecting a story mission you instantly go into some dialogue, which it is possible to skip but I really wouldn't recommend it, and you then proceed to an overhead map. The map is split into an invisible grid and both the player and the opponent take turns to move there army across the map and attack the other side. Often you start with some troops but sometimes you need to first buy them and different units have different attack strengths, attack range, movement range and strengths and weaknesses. The basic idea of the game is to strategically use all that information to guide your army to victory by either destroying every enemy unit or capturing the enemy headquarters.

      It shouldn't take too long to master all the mechanics though there is a fair bit to learn and while the game seems to mostly presume you already have some idea of how to play there are lots of tutorials that you can look through. Some maps take much longer than others, a couple of the trial maps are four way fights so these take especially long to beat though they give you the greatest feeling of accomplishment when you're finally the last army standing.

      The difficulty curve can be quite high and sometimes when a fight is not going your way it is better to just restart the mission, resulting in a very lengthy game. Yet even though you're essentially doing the same thing other and over again it never feels dull and is rarely truly frustrating.

      Everyone who's ever played and enjoyed a previous game in the series will already know all of that as the gameplay is essentially the same, so the big question is why is this game better than the others in the series?

      It may just be personal preference but this is the only advance wars game that I've felt had a good script to it. The story more serious and deeper than the others and I found myself wanting to get through the missions quicker to find out what happens next. This is accompanied by the optional, often humorous conversations that take place in the briefing room which can be viewed in any of the story missions. The briefing room seems to be a mysterious place where it is completely neutral and good characters have conversations with the evils ones. This is always ended with some advice on the tactics you should use in the fight, sometimes bizarrely coming from the person you're trying to beat.

      There are a few new units such as bikes which are essentially infantry units with longer movement range. You can now also make your CO board one of your units at any factory, port or airport which gives that unit a stat boost as well as any surrounding unit. The area this unit effects grows when an enemy is damaged in that area until it is several squares across. Once its reached this point you have an option to either keep it at that and give all your units in that range a boost or use the CO's special ability, which varies depending on the CO, which makes the area shrink again. It's a simple system which means that even if the CO's ability would not be of help in the current situation you can still give the units a stat boost.

      All in all, I liked this game a lot. The interesting story and the good battle mechanics make this one a must have for fans of the genre and, while it is complicated, with a bit of effort I'm sure people new to the series will soon get hooked as well.

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      01.12.2008 14:59
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      The best strategy war game I've played on the DS

      I was very excited to get my hands on Advance Wars: Dark Conflict because I loved previous Advance Wars so much - and I have to say, it did not disappoint!

      You get a great strategy game with a huge number of scenarios and battles. You can play stand-alone battles but the main point for me is to get through the main story, where you fight a sequence of battles against various evil opponents!

      There are some pre-deploy scenarios but elsewhere you choose what to deploy and which commanders to use - giving an almost limitless set of possibilities. Performance on each battle is rated on speed, technique and power, so even when you've won a battle you might want to go back and do it better.

      My only niggle is nothing to do with the gameplay - it's that in story mode the exposition can get a bit drawn out with dialogue and characters that are a bit weak.

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      22.07.2008 02:11
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      You might want to pick up AW:DS first!

      Brilliant new spin on the Advance Wars series, with a much darker plot (fantastic plot, I'd add... a post-apocalyptic politically anarchic communist society...? Awesome. I won't even spoil the more insane twists along the way) than previously, and the same top turn-based strategy as before.
      The graphics are truly beautiful, especially on a lite, that art style suits the game so well, and mixed with great music (although not quite beating the original Advance Wars DS music, you'll still be wanting to stick your headphones in for this one) it's a feast for the eyes and ears.
      The problem with the gameplay, though, is that it gets VERY hard, VERY quickly, and even the helpful in game strategy tips won't help against the more frustrating levels. It's a difficult game, particularly for new fans of the series.

      Multiplayer is lots of fun- but you don't stand a chance against the AI!

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      10.06.2008 21:31
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      A highly recommended startegy game for the DS

      Advance Wars is probably the most successful series of strategy games on a portable gaming console. Dark Conflict is the second Advance Wars game on the DS and it proves to be a brilliant game that should easily provide with tons of entertainment...and make you think!

      Graphics

      The game's visual presentation is good but it isn't among the best. The colours are grim and dull with earthly hues and, while this proves to be a perfect match to its post-apocalyptic setting and storyline, does make the graphics less than memorable.

      However, the animations are super smooth with not a hint of lagging. For example, when your Interceptor fighters fire their missiles, the animations unfold flawlessly and the way the missiles are released slowly and speed up adds an element of realism to the game. When you attack a unit or a unit is attacked, your unit is displayed on one screen while the enemy unit is displayed on the other. I have seen countless animations of exchange of fire between two units but have never actually gotten bored of seeing them because they are so smooth and well-detailed.

      The 'map' is well rendered and there is a greater level of detail with buildings, forests, mountains and rivers clearly visible and easily identifiable. The characters themselves are highly detailed and look excellent. The game's story is told by on-screen dialogue between characters set against 2D background settings which look nice and clean. The menus feel very functional and easy to navigate through but are otherwise quite unattractive and employ the same dull colour scheme.

      Sound

      When you are actually on the map ordering and moving around your units and trying to guess your enemy's moves, the music is not very memorable at all, although this is more because of the engaging gameplay. The music is aggressive and fast-paced to match the furious and tense nature of the gameplay. It creates a good atmosphere for the game and feels appropriate, although isn't anything extraordinary. The special sound effects are absolutely amazing, the blast of bazookas and the whoosh of rockets and the thudding of helicopters all feel very realistic.

      Story

      The game is set in a world that has just been hit by a flurry of meteorites. A sheet of dust and debris blots out the sun of a devastated and lawless world. You play as a cadet of the Laurentian Army who comes across and joins a Laurentian legion in the quest for survival and to safeguard the remaining people of Laurentia against the technologically advanced bandits and sadists who now freely roam the nightmarish world. During your journey, your character will find mystery, treachery and friendship as you guide your army through numerous battles that unravel the intriguing storyline.

      Gameplay

      This is where this game is so good. Employing a turn-based combat system at its core, the gameplay mechanisms are very simple and very effective.

      In the single player mode, you are given two options 'Story mode' and 'Quick Play'. Story mode is the main feature of the game which begins the story. You basically choose a mission, see a scene which narrates the context behind the coming battle and are then thrust into battle with a very well armed enemy. You are given a view of the world map, and are given the locations of your units. Your enemies units may or may not be visible depending on the conditions. You can then choose a unit and order them to move to particular part of their map (if within range) or attack an enemy unit that is within their range.

      Each unit has their weaknesses and strengths against other units. For example, tanks are strong against infantry but weak against bombers (which they can't even attack!). There are hundreds of units to choose from including ground units, nautical units and aerial units. Each unit has its own attack range, ammunition and fuel which makes the game more challenging and realistic.

      The units are 'made' at your factories, docks and airports which require funds that are generated from your cities. Cities can be captured using infantry units only. To win the game, you must either destroy your enemy or capture their General Headquarter (GHQ). You may find that the latter is very hard to achieve as the enemy usually has a few heavily armed units around its GHQ so dropping infantry from transport helicopters is a no-no.

      The game is very engaging to play and, although every mission is very similar, it never gets boring or repetitive. Surprisingly, a lot of strategy is needed to win against your enemies, guard your units and minimise your losses.This is partly because of the challenging computer AI which can at times be hard, especially in the latter missions of the story mode. New missions become unlocked as the game progresses and the presence of three game save slots is a welcome addition.

      The 'Quick Play' mode allows you to start from scratch with only a city and a factory, capture new cities and defeat your enemy who is in a similar predicament. There are many maps to choose from in the 'quick play' mode.

      Lasting appeal

      Perhaps unrivalled by any other DS game thanks to dozens of campaign and trial missions that form part of the main story as well as an outstanding multiplayer mode. The wireless multiplayer mode allows you to take on your friends in a 'quick play' style mission while the robust online multiplayer mode (courtesy of wifi support) allows you to do the same with other 'generals' from around the world. This means that you will never run out of people to beat as each person online has their unique combat style. This allows for a lot of variety in the gameplay experience and makes this game one of the longest title on the DS.

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      Advance Wars: Dark Conflict is an excellent game with some fantastic combat mechanics and an intriguing plot which all fit together brilliantly to deliver a superb gameplay experience. The graphics, while well matched to the game, look dull and the soundtrack is quite unremarkable, but the comprehensive online multiplayer mode more than compensates for this.

      When all's said and done, Advance Wars: Dark Conflict is a must have for every serious DS gamer who is even remotely interested in strategy games. You may find yourself feeling skeptical about the game now, but wait until you play it!

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