Review by Arkhaine
"One of the best turn-based strategy games for any system"
Advance Wars...what can I say? A masterful game with subtleties and nuances you'll be exploring for weeks.
To begin with, the game throws a whole bunch of training missions at you. In a lot of games this can be pretty annoying, but it really is quite fun for Advance Wars. However, they do start to drag a little and sadly you can't start the real game until you complete the training missions. (Well in truth you can simply complete the last training mission and the game will think you did them all).
The training missions show you the basics of troop movements, what type of unit can do what and where, how terrain affects combat and movement, planes and boats and their strategies and so on. The game eases you slowly enough into the complexities of the units that you can understand each unit fully by the time the next one is brought in - a nice touch indeed.
After the training missions the full game is opened up to you. Here, you can do the campaign (Can be very difficult at times) or play against the computer or your friends. In a stroke of genius you can even create your own maps! Though you can only save three that is still an exceptionally brilliant idea.
Graphically, the game gets the job done, nothing more. This is by no means a bad things as the gameplay more than makes up for the slightly above average graphics. Units are represented in neat, bright sprites, and are easily distinguishable from each other. When you move a unit to another unit and attack you are shown a nice little animation of what occurs. In a welcome touch each of the different factions of the game have different looking units in the animations.
Sound wise the game is great. The music never intrudes on the gameplay, remaining peacefully in the background as you play. The sound effects are quite good and certainly get the job done.
The controls are great. Pressing the R button shows you all the pertinent information about a unit, pressing the A button opens a menu or selects the unit highlighted and B cancels. Very good indeed.
CO's are a nice touch to the game, though occasionally they get annoying. Basically, each army is commanded by a CO who has certain advantages/disadvantages as well as a special power. For example, Max is very good at close combat but his long range units can't shoot as far. His special power (which you increase in by having a unit killed or by killing a unit) makes the units even more powerful for a turn. It can get a little irritating when CO's use their powers all the time and it seems that you can never get yours in, but I'm sure thats just frustration talking.
The game starts off very simple but rapidly becomes quite a challenge, it is definitely not just for kids. When you complete the campaign (or even before) you can purchase new maps to play on and test your skills.
Overall, this game is amazing. The gameplay and strategy is second to none on the Gameboy Advance and it easily rivals some of the other turn-based games on other systems. Don't be put off by the modern military units or the cutesy graphics, this game is deep.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/26/01, Updated 07/31/02
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