One thing I’ll openly admit is that I’m not very good at strategy games. IN the gaming world at least I get a bit lost when there’s lots of things going on at once in different places and I have to keep an eye on everything all at once. I suppose it’s a bit like being a linesman. Sorry, assistant referee having to watch two people at once with different eyes to see if they’re offside.
Anyway, that said, I am well aware that the previous Advance Wars games on the GBA and DS were very good, although I found them too hard and so therefore couldn’t enjoy them. Thankfully, for gamers with a handicap such as me, Advance Wars Dark Conflict on the DS at its core has the same gameplay, only a little bit simplified and not as bright and cuddly. Yes, they’ve realised that war isn’t bright and bouncy and full of people going booyaa, yeah and wow, did you see the size of that explosion? Instead, this one’s set after a meteor strike where lone groups fight for survival in a mad-max style universe, people get viruses that make flowers bloom from their skin and a man called ‘The Beast’ keeps fighting your troops.
So, when you look at this game the maps are and colours are all shades of brown, grey and muted colours and when characters have a bit of a chin-wag, which they do more of in this game, they’re all nicely drawn in that typically serious anime style. Nothing you’d see on a kids’ channel here.
Before I go into detail about the gameplay let me explain the game for anyone who’s never played it. It’s basically a bit like chess. It’s a turn-based game where you guide troops, tanks and mobile guns over various terrain, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The aim of each map is to destroy all the enemy’s units or capture their base. Simple to explain but you’ll have to think and use lots of tactics to win the day in this one.
Thankfully, they’ve dropped the very complicated dual layer premise where planes fought overhead at the same time as ground forces. I just couldn’t get my small head around it so this time, all units fight on the same map. They also have some new units like bikes which can travel long distances to capture towns and factories, new rigs which can carry troops and more missile and rocket launchers that can dish out damage from afar.
Game maps can take anything from 5 minutes to a number of hours to complete depending on your tactics and there are also new challenging tactical maps to unlock as you play through the story if you’re a veteran and want to be tested to your limits early on.
Some people don’t like the new gritty look of this game but I think it’s better. War’s not supposed to be bright and bouncy and fluffy and I think the game looks better for its new makeover that would make the likes of Morrissey and Marilyn Manson very happy indeed.
It’s also got Wi-fi multiplayer so if you’ve got some time on your hands, you can play against other real people and prove you’re a better warmonger than your opponent.
Advance Wars: Dark Conflict gets an excellent 8 out of 10.