I got my hands on Advance Wars: Days of Ruin a week ago and the game has taken up most of my free time. Days of Ruin is the fourth installment in the Advance Wars series, the second on the Nintendo DS. I played the first one, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, and didn’t find the gameplay interesting. I had trouble keeping up with the strengths and weaknesses of the units. The storyline for Dual Strike also had that rah-rah feel, making the game sugary sweet. Days of Ruin has more of a serious theme to its plot which I find more to my liking.
I’ve only played up to the 12th map so far. Each successive map is taking longer and longer to complete.
The story follows a young cadet named Will as he finds a way to live in the aftermath of a worldwide meteor strike. During his wanderings, he meets up with a Rubinelle army unit led by Captain Brenner and his subordinate, Lin. Brenner and Lin, along with their unit, are going around the area helping refugees in need. Brenner has a strong sense of justice and helps anyone no matter how they may be viewed due to their profession as soldiers. Lin has an older, bossy sister feel to her character. She instructs Will on the strengths and weaknesses of the battlefield and is always around to make witty remarks at Will’s expense. Further along in the story, Will saves Isabella who has amnesia. She also has a ton of confidential information stored in her mind. At first, I thought she was a cyborg but her humanity became clear when she contracted a flower disease.
There has been a number of interesting story lines up to the 12th map. After the meteor strike, civilization is totally wiped out. The government is no longer around to enforce laws, so it’s up to each individual to choose how to live their lives. Many of the survivors chose to become bandits, taking what they want by force. Others joined up to form enclaves, feeling safer in large numbers. With weapons at their disposal, the armies push to conquer the world or in the case of Brennar, save the world.
The group encounters an enclave led by a mayor with a serious control problem. The mayor plays on Brenner’s sense of justice to get them to do things for the enclave and then turns their back on them multiple times. The group later meets a doctor who has a habit of telling bad jokes. He helps cure Isabella of a disease that causes flowers to grow from the body. They also meet quite a few other bit characters: a hotshot pilot named Waylan looking for money, power, and women, a crazy violent enemy named Beast, an overbearing Admiral named Greyfield looking for grandeur, an eccentric mad scientist introducing destructive new units to the enemy and the opposing military force known as the Lazurian Army.
The Advance Wars series uses a linear story system where each battle pushes the story forward. There has not been any divergent storylines up to the point I am at, no choice to change the outcome of the story.
The battle system uses a turn-based tile system. Imagine the battlefield as a grid. Each unit can move around the grid based on it’s movement points and traction. The units on foot can traverse mountains while the wheeled units cannot. There are also sea and air units in the game. Each unit has a strength and weakness against other types of units. There are also limitations for the sea and air units. These types of units require fuel and must either dock back at the port or land on an airfield to refuel otherwise they sink or crash. Another bit of info to keep in mind is the layout of the battlefield. Each plot of land has defensive enhancements ranging from 0 to 4 stars. And if that’s not enough, units can level up after each kill making them stronger than a newly built unit. New units can be built in factories, ports, or airfields at the cost of a portion of the funds which comes from holding control of cities.
The units I have seen up til now:
- Infantry – traverses mountains, captures cities, weak against vehicles
- Mech – traverses mountains, captures cities, strong against vehicles and infantry
- Bike – large movement radius, captures cities, strong against infantry/mech
- Recon – large movement radius, strong against infantry/mech
- Flare – reveals fog of war, strong against infantry
- Anti-Air – strong against air units and infantry
- Tank – strong against infantry and vehicles
- Medium Tank – strong against infantry and vehicles, high defense
- Artillery – shoots from a range, strong against infantry and vehicles
- Anti-Tank – range unit w/ counterattack abilities, strong against infantry and vehicles
- Rockets – large range, strong against infantry, vehicles, ships and subs
- Missiles – large range, strong against air
- Rig – no attack, can build temp ports/airfields/outposts, carries one foot unit
- Fighter – strong against air units
- Bomber – strong against ground units
- Seaplane – strong against everything, built on carriers only
- Duster – weak against everything
- Heli – strong against infantry, can attack other heli’s
- Transport – carries one ground unit, no attack
- Battleship – large range, strong against everything but air units
- Carrier – allows production of up to 2 seaplanes
- Submarine – can dive to hide detection, strong against ships and subs
- Cruiser – strong against air and subs, can carry two heli units
- Lander – no attack, can carry two ground units
- Gunboat – can carry one foot unit, weak against everything
In terms of strategy, I employ a quantity over quality approach. I capture as many cities as possible and pump out the fastest and most cost-efficient units to overwhelm the opposition. These consist of the Bikes and Tanks–Bikes for their speed and capture ability, Tanks for their hard-hitting cheapness. Rigs are a nice unit though; you can never have to many outposts to repair the units out in the field. For air units, I prefer Fighters and Bombers over the others. Fighters for blowing anything out of the sky and Bombers near the end to plow through the ground units. Sea units are a hassle to oversee. They seem to run out of fuel at the most inopportune moments. I usually go with a Battleship to annoy the ground units on islands and get a fleet of Submarines backed by Cruisers. I also utilize the Landers as opposed to the Gunboats due to their larger capacity hold.
If you are into the turn-style strategy games, I would definitely recommend picking up Advance Wars: Days of Ruins. The gameplay and storyline more than makes up for the crappy music. The graphics aren’t bad either and if the battle animations becomes too tedious, you can skip past it by pressing a button. The best part of all is the distinct lack of stylus requirements. I don’t think my wrist can take any more abuse with all the stylus-centric games out there.