Sunday, April 9, 2006
Advance Wars: Dual Strike review
Okay, this game has been out for quite some time now (since September last year), but as I have just finished of the last of the single player campaign (I am crap!) after a furious late night/early morning session, I felt compelled to write a short review of this amazing game.
Advance Wars: Dual Strike is part of the Famicom Wars series (Nintendo Wars as known in Europe and North America) and is a turn-based strategy wargame. It was developed by Intelligent Systems, the developer who made both the Gameboy Advance games and the original Famicom Wars. For the uninitiated, Advance Wars is a Risk/Chess/Command & Conquer hybrid game. The main difference is with each turn you are able to instruct all your units to move/attack, and of course it isn't in real time.
If you just bought this game you should get moving with the campaign mode. The storyline is reasonable and similar in lines with the Advance Wars series where the Black Hole army is up to their conquering the world mischief again. You control the Orange Star army in repelling the invasion. After you complete the campaign, a hard campaign would be unlocked. Using coins earned in the campaign you can use them to unlock new battlemaps.
A new feature to the Advance Wars series is the introduction of multiple COs (Commanding Officer). This is why the game is called Dual Strike. While you can only control a CO in AAdvance Wars, in Dual Strike you can partner two COs. Each COs has unique abilities so you should select them carefully in each mission. For example you should use Sami in missions that requires a quick capture of towns and bases. If a mission that requires a more direct brute force combat, then use Max.
With two different COs a new mode of gameplay called 'Tag Battles' has also been implemented. Basically once both your COs 'super power' has been charged you can invoke 'Tag Battles' which gives you two turns instead of one. This is crucial in some missions. Like in Advance Wars, the COs has uncanny humour, although I do wish Advance Wars veteran Nell returns to the game. She is the funniest of all. Her younger sister Rachel replaces her as your tutor. The most annoying character I believe is Jake, the first CO you control, and one of the main protagonist. His internet lingo annoys me (eg. We owned you!). STFU!
While most of the missions would only take place on the bottom screen (with the top screen displaying crucial information such as terrain and unit intelligence and other various stuffs), new to Advance Wars are battles that also takes place on the top screen. These battles (called secondary battles) are quite rare but do give some dimensions to the game. Basically you can assign a CO to take control of the top battle. If he or she wins, they can join you on the front battle. You can leave the CPU to take care of the top battle but should you wish to, you can take command as well.
Gameplay remains the same as the original (Western) Advance Wars with some modification to take advantage of the Nintendo DS. You can now use the touch screen to select your units, but personally I find it easier to use the d-pad and face buttons since the map is grid based.
Graphically the game is similar to the Gameboy Advance games. Terrain and units are still 2D sprites, although they are much more detailed. Likewise with the animations. The map is slightly tilted, sort of a 'cheat' to make it 3D like. People who must have 3D in their games would do well to avoid this game, which is a shame as I think the graphic is lovely.
Winning missions is straight forward. You can either capture the enemy HQ or defeat all the enemy units. Some missions deviate slightly and requires you to destroy certain units, but for most of the missions winning is as simple as capturing or defeating.
Because this game came out before Nintendo launched its free internet gaming service, Dual Strike only features wireless local LAN multiplayer. This supports up to eight different players and requires only one copy of the game. Yay!
Advance Wars: Dual Strike is a great direction for the series. If you are a fan of real time strategy, then check out its bigger brother, the under-rated Battalion Wars for GameCube, developed by Kuju London. While it isn't turn based, it is similar to its portable console cousins with its rather unique micro management system.
Either way, Dual Strike is a great war game. If you have Advance Wars for GBA, you may find at first glance that Dual Strike doesn't really offer a significant reason to upgrade. But combined with new units and new gameplay (dual COs, tags, music) and a new campaign, if you are a fan of turn-based war strategy.
War may be bad, but Advance Wars: Dual Strike is great.
Buy now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK