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11:27 AM on 01.27.2008

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

I canít express in words how excited I was to get my copy of DoR, open up the package, and begin a new adventure in the world of AWÖ Well, was excited, until I really started playing it. Iíll start out by saying that simply because of the fact that it is an Intelligent Systems game, and itís AW, itís worth buying.

The story line is significantly stronger and more thought out than in Dual Strike, but for some reason, I just couldnít get attached to any of the characters the way I did with DS. I will say that the new main character, Will, who is quite similar to Jake from DS, is much more bearable in terms of lingo. No cheesy one-liners like: ďYou just got dropped like a phat beat!Ē So, praise be for that.

There is a new function where you are able to zoom, which is sorta cool at first glance, but tactically unwise for use during game play. Yes, the units look cool and more detailed, but seeing the whole picture is much more important.

A couple of new units that I found useful were the flare, antitank, and bike. The flare is awesome for Fog of War maps, because on top of shooting flares to light up areas (including woods and other hiding places), it can also directly attack other units. The antitank seems a bit overpowered at times, but is second to none for taking out strong tanks. Hell, itís pretty much awesome for taking anything out. It is an indirect-attack unit that will counterattack if directly attacked. The bike unit is foot soldiers on bikes, who can also capture and travel much farther than any other foot soldier. That was a nice addition. I have yet to use the Map Builder, but it seems to be pretty cool, and kinda reminds me (in a weird way) of Sim City.

One thing that really annoyed me about this game was the difference from previous games in terms of unit power. For example, if a duster (new unit) attacks a fighter plane, it takes out about 4 health from the fighter, whereas the duster only loses 3. To me, that is all wrong. Even if the duster is the one initiating the attack, it is an inexpensive and sometimes weak unit, going up against the strongest (and priciest) air unit. Why the hell should its damage be that extensive? I also noticed that the b-copters' attack against a tank is much less powerful, and the tanks can now counter them. Go figure.

Some of the units also function slightly differently. The battleship, for one, can now move and fire in the same turn. Overpowered? Maybe. But I couldnít complain about that one. The carriers can now build a new unit called a seaplane, which I personally didnít use a ton, but just the fact that they can be built on a ship rather than an airport is really sweet. Lastly, the rig (formerly known as the APC), can build temporary air/seaports, which is yet another awesome addition.

Still, despite some of the new additions, I couldnít shake the feeling that this was half of a game. It felt a bit like an empty shell, devoid of certain details that I really happened to like in previous AW games. The records arenít as detailed, everything just unlocks as you play in campaign mode (no earning points to spend later), and there is NO HARD MODE. Okay, so that last one really pissed me off.

But after all my disappointments with this game, I still find myself semi-glued to the screen playing it, simply because of the new online play thatís been added. Not only can you play online with randoms, you can also play with up to four friends and use the mic, which works pretty well. I have noticed quite a few people disconnecting from online battles that they are likely going to lose, which I find extremely obnoxious. But, it still counts as a win for me and a lose for them, so screw those wusses.

Iíve really only touched the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully itís enough to give anyone reading this an informed decision about buying the game. You know what youíre in for now, so donít act surprised when you get it!   read

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