Review by Bkstunt_31
"Advance Wars version 3.0!"
Advance Wars: Dual Strike is the third entry in Intelligent System's tactical strategy series, and features numerous improvements over its predecessors. It still features many of the characters you've come to love, while also introducing quite a few new ones, as well as all new battle units, powers, and even an all new gameplay element: the dual strike (Advance Wars: DS isn't just a cute name parodying the Nintendo DS, believe it or not). Let's get to the review!
The story in Dual Strike centers on Omega Land, which has been slowly turning into a desert wasteland. Therefore, Jake, a new Orange Star CO, with the help of Nell's younger sister Rachel, set out to explore and stop the reason behind this desert expansion. If you've played the two previous games, you can probably guess who is behind this new problem as well, although the enemy's army is under new leadership after the events of Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising.
I found the story to be very similar to the other Advance Wars stories in the way it was told: you are given a good reason to fight overall, but your reasons for fighting various missions, especially the initial ones, don't delve any deeper than the fact that there's a bad guy in front of you. As you progress through the campaign missions, you will finally learn more and more of the story, and while it does indeed give you a reason to fight, there is frustratingly little information about your antagonist's background. Thankfully, most of the protagonists are fairly well developed, considering many of them are making return appearances from the previous Advance Wars games. Orange Star will be joined by all of the other nations in the previous games to form an alliance in the fight for Omega Land, so you will be able to use most of the CO's from the series previous titles during the campaign, but unfortunately many of the countries main heroes will not be available during the campaign, including Andy, Olaf, Kanabi, and Drake. This is offset by the addition of new CO's such as Jake, who each bring their own skills and powers into battle. Overall, the story is average, maintaining the light-hearted side of war that the series is known for.
If you've played any Advance Wars game before, you'll instantly feel at home with Dual Strike. The main objective of the game is, of course, to use your army to crush the enemy. You can do this by using money collected from controlling cities in order to build various units. You will have to choose which units to build wisely, though, by gauging what the enemy has and taking into consideration their powers and each unit's weaknesses and strengths. As you attack and come under attack, your commanding officer's star power will rise, which will eventually let you use their special powers, which can often swing any given battle in your favor. As I mentioned earlier, each CO also has their own individual skills and powers, so knowing when to use each one can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
New to Advance Wars is the concept of the Dual Strike threat, which is basically where you can use two separate CO's in a fight, switching between them to utilize each of their strengths while trying to minimize their weaknesses. You can also build up both of their powers to max and than use a tag-team attack, which lets you move twice in a row, back to back, while also simultaneously unleashing each CO's respective power. As you can guess, this attack is particularly devastating if you can manage to set it up right.
Another new feature in Dual Strike worth noting is the fact that your CO's can advance in rank and learn various abilities to help them out on the battlefield. For every one thousand points you acquire (through completing missions), your CO will be promoted, and a new set of abilities will be opened up to them. Each CO can equip up to four abilities, though only ranks one through ten open up new abilities. Using the right ability in the right situation can definitely give you the edge you need to complete the game.
The graphics in Dual Strike are very crisp and clean, everything here looks great. It's very easy to identify different units from each other; despite how small they are, because the detail of each unit is unique. All of the CO's look great as well, and the developers did a good job utilizing both of the DS's screens. When your not busy fighting on the second screen, you can use it to display various information about your units, or the battle's overall status. The overall look is very similar to previous Advance Wars title's, with a little better detail. Well done for a handheld game.
Music/Sound effects: 8/10
I usually don't really have anything important to say about the music or sound effects of a game, unless they are really needed in order to play it, or either sound incredibly good or incredibly bad. That being said, Advance Wars has always really had a great soundtrack collection. A lot of the tracks are the themes of certain CO's, as well, and they are played whenever that particular CO is moving his troops, and many of them are very well done. If I had to pick, I would say that Grit and Jess's tracks are my favorite. There are also a variety of tracks that are played when you win battles or are stuck in a tight spot. The sound effects are fairly standard fare; everything fits well and does its job.
Thankfully, Dual Strike features many different activities to do after you beat the campaign missions. Some of these include a new Combat mode, where you take direct control over your units in a real-time battle, so you will be moving a tank around trying to avoid bullets while taking out the enemy's tanks. There is also a survival battle mode where you must complete certain mission requirements under different restraints in order to win. Of course, let's not forget the multiplayer aspect and the ability to create your own maps, and you can see why Dual Strike scores so high in this category. I should also note that there are also different uniforms available to each CO, as well as an image gallery and a soundtrack room.
Overall, Dual Strike is a great game for any tactical-based combat fan. I didn't like the fact that they made some of the most popular CO's unavailable and the story felt a bit lack-luster, but the gameplay and extra's are top-notch. If you're a fan of strategy, I would highly recommend Dual Strike, as well as the entire series for that matter. You should be able to find a good used copy of Dual Strike available without too much trouble, and hopefully without it costing too much as well. Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/07/08
Game Release: Advance Wars: Dual Strike (US, 08/22/05)
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