Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Advance Wars: Dark Conflict / Days of Ruin review
After all the hype and assurance that the new art direction would be fine, I found the new Advance Wars to be not that appealing, at least on an aesthetic level.
The intro must have been edited in like an hour and the UI must have been designed by a child, giving this title a seemingly poor production. The scenario looks like it was lifted from a rejected Front Mission script or a brain storming session that lasted only a couple of minutes.
Intelligent Systems also seemed to have hired admirers of Tetsuya Nomura (or a fanboy) to design the characters (which to some may be a plus). The soundtrack is also frankly the worse of the series with what I call pure stereotypical 'video game metal' noise, and this coming from someone who holds bands like Carcass and Morbid Angel in high regard (the sound effects are nice though). So basically the previous charm of the past games are long gone. Not good.
Fortunately the gameplay remains essentially unchanged which is a good thing (or bad if you just can't stomach playing the same game you played years ago). Fog of War has been overhauled with some pretty good ideas. Unit power (both new and old) has been balanced and the tag CO power from Dual Strike has been scrapped. The number of COs has also been decreased. Unfortunately unit sprites are dull looking especially when compared to previous super-deformed units. Cutscene battle sprites are even worse, with very limited hue and the battle animations are uninspired and clashes with the new gritty and 'edgy' art style.
The enemy A.I. are pushovers too, so don't expect a challenge here. You will likely find that completing through the 26 mission campaign to be a speedy process. Still there are times when the game does become difficult, but as a whole don't expect to give your Canon a workout printing some of the free FAQs available.
Thankfully the lack of multiple singleplayer mode options that were presented in Dual Strike were replaced by multiplayer support. Fans will be pleased that the lack of online WiFi in the first DS Advance Wars has been addressed here as Dark Conflict features both local and online support. It also supports VoIP for kids who just love ruining people's experience. Maps created via the design room can be uploaded and shared via Nintendo WiFi Connection.
Conclusion - it is still the same turn-based strategy Advance Wars we love and the gameplay remains as polished, just very badly presented. If you don't mind the new art direction and require online mode, the purchase is a no-brainer. But those without access to wireless access point should hold on to their Advance Wars GBA cart. It is still a good game mind you and for those who like their Advance Wars laced with some kind of childlike grittiness, this is the strategy game for you.
Advance Wars: Dark Conflict is also known as Days of Ruin outside Europe.