Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... before the global disaster, who are dedicated to helping out survivors and rebuilding society despite facing conflict from their forme... more
An excellent new take on the Advance Wars series
Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (DS)
Member Name: Anti
Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (DS)
Date: 20/07/11, updated on 24/08/11 (15 review reads)
Advantages: Many additions improve gameplay, complex story, a lot of replay value
Disadvantages: Change in tone quite jarring, steep difficulty curve
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)
Summary: Definitely recommended for strategy fans!
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