February 14, 2008
5 Things I Love About Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
In the first of a series of articles where I detail things I love about games in the form of some lists, I decided to take a look at Advance Wars: Days of Ruin for the Nintendo DS.
The game has split opinions in the industry, with some people saying it’s become too easy and doesn’t have as many features as its predecessor (Dual Strike) and others proclaiming it to be a huge leap forward for the series in terms of gameplay and it’s much more mature storyline.
Furthermore, the new online multiplayer has taken centre stage alongside the series’ iconic gameplay. Please remember that I am still fairly new to the series, so don’t bash me if I find something interesting that may have been in the series for a while.
Without further deliberation, here are my top 5 things I love about this game:
1. It is still Advance Wars. When it was first announced that Nintendo wanted to go with a darker and brooding theme for this sequel, I was scared that the gameplay was going to be impacted to compensate for the lack of cute, young characters. However, that same old rock-paper-scissor type of gameplay is still in place and working exceedingly well with the new additions to the game. Even the new units such as the bike snap right in place like Lego.
2. The cutscenes are skippable. The much lauded new story is so bad that it makes Ugly Betty look like Shakespeare. For the purpose of writing this article, I had to endure what can only be described as the most mind-numbing melodrama present in video games to date. Nintendo should realize that making a game’s storyline “dark” does not mean “emo”. Nearly every character you meet has a tale of woe where they reminisce about how they had to survive by hiding under a load of dead bodies, and this gets incredibly depressing after a short while with the game.
3. The online mode is brilliant. My Xbox 360 has fallen off this mortal coil once more due to the incurable red ring of death issue, so thus I have had to rely on this one single game to provide me with all my online needs (I could hardly rely on my Wii, and no one was currently playing online in Wipeout Pulse). This is a pioneering online title for the DS, showing the hardcore audience that the DS can cater to them just as well as the rest. I really enjoyed fighting random people across the vortex of time and space of which we call Earth. What I like about it is that it really thinks about past mistakes games have made in this area, with players that drop out losing points, and rounds are timed so someone can’t leave it for an hour before making a move, for example. Moreover, the map centre is a great addition, allowing you to upload and download custom maps from all over the community.
4. The new map designer. This is the single best innovation of the series, and is accomplished and feature complete to the fullest detail, whilst being a simpler and streamlined experience than the map designer in Dual Strike. Building the maps is a surprisingly therapeutic experience, and to see your creation crop up in the map centre to be played by others all over the world is liberating. Custom content is the future for online gaming, and Days of Ruin is really leading the charge with something so small and simple, yet hugely significant to players.
5. The music. When I initially picked this up, I didn’t expect to be playing to the sounds of an electric guitar coming out of my DS Lite’s little speakers. The DS has generally been detached from such escapades into modern rock, immense classical scores, and haunting melodies, so it is quite refreshing to hear something different. It seems Nintendo agrees with me on this, and thus created an enhanced music player within the options menu, where there are a total of 50 small midi songs to play.
Overall, it’s clear to see that Days of Ruin is an evolution rather than a revolution of the series, and even though the hardcore purists may moan about the lack of modes such as war room and survival, there is no doubt that new and inexperienced players will not feel their loss and make do with the plethora of things to do in the game. The hardcore can now just jump on the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and fight each other, so you could say that is a replacement for the more obscure modes.