Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
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Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (DS)
Member Name: Hydromancer
Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (DS)
Advantages: fantastic turn based gameplay, good story, outstanding online multiplayer
Disadvantages: graphics are dull, unremarkable tunes, AI can get very difficult
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Summary: A highly recommended startegy game for the DS