Game: Advanced Wars: Days of Ruin
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Platform: Nintendo DS
In the last few months, I’ve been trying to step outside the genres of video games I’m normally attracted to and expand my gaming horizons. This includes playing games of a tactical or strategic nature, like Jeanne d’Arc and Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP. With Advanced Wars: Days of Ruin for the DS, I’ve gotten a taste of turned-based strategy, and I think I like it.
Although this is not the first game in the Advanced Wars series, this is the first one I’ve played, and I’m told that the story is considerably darker in this installment. The “Days of Ruin” subtitle refers to the post-apocalyptic world in which the story takes place. Most of the human race has been destroyed by a series of meteors that have struck our planet. Will, a young student from a nearby military academy, is one of the few to have lived through the destruction. He soon becomes involved in a growing army dedicated to saving as many survivors as possible, though they are being met with a lot of resistance.
The DS’s touch-screen interface is very well suited for strategy-based gameplay, and battle controls are very simple and natural. It’s easy enough for a strategy newcomer to jump right in and play, unlike some games of the same nature that have unnaturally steep learning curves. As the game goes on, the battles take place across different terrains that offer new challenges to player, so that the point-and-direct attack style doesn’t get stale.
Days of Ruin’s 2-D graphics aren’t the most impressive I’ve ever seen on the DS, but they are certainly pretty. The artistic style suits the game well, matching its dark and dreary tone. The soundtrack, which is some kind of strange futuristic techno, also fits in perfectly, although elsewhere it might sound bizarre.
What really makes this game different from the rest of the Advanced Wars series is the online play that has become the standard for most DS games. The multiplayer action may earn this a spot in the new generation, but I feel like the campaign mode may have suffered because of this. While the storyline is great and the battles are fun, I feel like there could have been a little something more there to truly hook gamers in. Even more, I wish that more developers would understand that online play isn’t the end-all and be-all to judge a game by, and that plenty of people still buy games for the single-player campaign. I spend a lot of time playing handhelds by myself, whether it’s on the train (three hours a day, by the way) or while my better half is taking up the TV playing Madden, so there’s got to be a lot there for me to justify a purchase.
This may sound like I’m being overly negative and giving a bad review, but I’m not. The campaign mode is honestly quite good. I just think that there could have been something there to make it really great. Perhaps more customizable options or varied battles would have made this game more addictive or given it a higher replay value. There are games that are good, and then there are games that are so much fun and so addictive you can’t wait to play again. Days of Ruin doesn’t disappoint, but it also didn’t make me want to throw out all my old-school RPGs in favor of more strategic combat.
If you’re a fan of turn-based strategy, don’t let my little multiplayer rant deter you from picking up this game; it’s definitely a fun and interesting title, especially if you’re actually going to utilize the multiplayer modes. If, like me, you’re new to the genre and don’t really know where to start, I’d still recommend a rental. Definitely spend some time with this one, DS owners; you might just find out that you like strategy more than you knew.