Review by CyberStryke

"THIS is why I bought a Nintendo DS"

Introduction :

This is the reason why I bought a Nintendo DS. For this game and this game only. Advance Wars: Dual Strike is a turn-based modern war game for the DS. Advance Wars Dual Strike is the third game in the series and this one does not disappoint. There were definitely a lot of high expectations before this game came out, from Advance Wars fans and me, especially. Now that I have finally got my hand on this game, it seems I can't put it down. I have barely scratched the surface of this game. There are just way too many things to do. This includes the campaign mode, hard campaign mode, survival mode, combat mode, and war room. All these modes can easily take over 200 hours to complete and I am enjoying every second of this. Sure, there are some flaws in this game but not enough to change my score much. I'll get into details later on. So basically in Advance Wars, you get a CO (Commanding Officer), and your objective is to defeat the other CO in battle. You get to decide everything, meaning you choose which unit to attack, which unit to move, and this means a lot of strategy has to happen. This game requires major thinking.

Game play :

Now this is where Advance Wars shines. Ever since the first Advance Wars, I've got addicted to the game only because of the game play. This is definitely not an easy game to beat. If you are planning to buy Advance Wars for the firs time, then don't think you can beat this game easily. I know there are a lot of people saying this is the easiest Advance Wars in the series, and they are right. But that doesn't mean it'll be easy for new comers. For veterans of previous Advance Wars, this game should be a breeze compared to the previous two. As I've mentioned earlier, there are a lot of modes in the game as well. The main mode is of course Campaign mode, which is the story mode. If you are a veteran of this game, then I'm guessing Campaign mode shouldn't be too much of a problem for you, but if you're new to the game, then it will take a few tries before beating it. Just don't get frustrated. I've been playing Advance Wars for a long time, and even I struggled through Campaign mode. Of course for the veterans, there's always Hard Campaign Mode. This is where the challenge lies. Many can say they've beaten Campaign mode, but only a handful can say they've beaten Hard Campaign mode due to the difficulty. Hard Campaign mode is definitely not for newcomers.

Aside from campaign, there are new modes in this Advance Wars such as Combat and Survival mode. Combat focuses less on strategy but instead you get to control one unit and move it around freely. It is definitely a fun break from all the thinking that goes on in Campaign and Survival Mode. Survival mode is definitely a challenging mode. This mode gives you harder situations to deal with, such as beating it in a certain amount of time, a certain amount of turns and a certain amount of gold. After you've tried all that, you can go to War Room. This mode has over 100 maps and every map gives you difficult challenges to face.

Now I will talk more about what happens during game play. Well, depending on the map, you either get pre-deployed units (units that are already on the map in the beginning) or you are given no units. If you are given no units, then you're forced to buy them from bases. Of course buying units costs money so you have to use the money wisely. The game is divided in a grid with squares, so you choose where your units go. This game is like the porn of chess. Terrains also play a major role in the game. This means tanks can't go over mountains and their movement gets limited. Air units also play a major role in this game. Everyone knows you can't win a war without air support. Now of course terrains don't affect air units because well, they're in the air. Aside from ground and air units, there are also naval units. These are also an important part of the game, and on some maps, you will have to rely heavily on naval units. Another important factor that decides the battle is cities and factories. Capturing cities gives you more funds every single day. Ground units can also heal in cities but only infantry can capture cities and it takes a minimum of two days. They definitely play a big factor in the battle. Of course, we can't forget the Fog of War. Fog of War can really frustrate players sometimes. Fog of War is basically battling each other in the fog, meaning you won't be able to spot your enemy unless your own units are close to them. Some units are better in the Fog of War, such as the Recon, because they can see farther while others struggle badly in the Fog of War. I personally hate Fog of War but of course, it adds that extra challenge in the battle.

What makes this game different from the previous Advance Wars is the COs. Former CO from the previous Advance Wars return and now they are fighting side by side with the new CO. Each CO has their own special ability and their abilities can easily change the outcome of the battle. Dual Strike now has tag team battles. This means two COs can fight side by side and this plays a very important role in the game. When both COs' power meters are charged, they get to use their Tag Power and this can and usually will change the tides of battle.

Aside from all that, there are now new units that got added to the game. Some of my favorites are the Mega tank, Stealth, and Carriers. Each unit has a weakness to it. So the mega tank can easily destroy any other ground units, but its movement range is limited and can only shoot three times before refueling. Stealth can cloak, making them invincible to all units besides other Stealth and fighters, but they use a lot of fuel. When an air or naval unit runs out of fuel, they go BOOM. You really have to know each unit and get to understand their strengths and weaknesses. This means you don't send your infantry to attack the Mega tank. And oh yes, there's also a kamikaze unit called the Black Bomb. It basically blows itself up to injure all units around it. All these units can change the battle easily, meaning you will need to think of plans and strategies to take them out. I have never played a game with more thinking.

Many people complain nowadays that A.I (Artificial Intelligence, computers) are dumb. None of them can say that in this game. The A.I is very smart and will know what to do in different situations. You don't have to worry about anything. Unless you're a veteran in this game, A.I is usually smarter than you, in some cases.

Now since this game is on the DS, it takes advantage of the second screen. This means there are two fronts in this game. The main front is on the bottom screen and the second front is on the top screen. So you have to worry about two different fronts at the same time. But even if you lose the second front, the game isn't over. If you lose the first front though, the game is over. But sadly, it doesn't really take advantage of the stylus. Whatever I do on the stylus, I can do better on the D-Pad. But who cares about the stylus, this is a strategy game and not a shooter, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Story :

This is your typical story. A group of baddies decide to take over the world and these heroes must step up and defend their hometown. Not that the story is bad, but not good either. I still enjoyed the dialogue that was going on in between. Jake, one of the main characters, seems to be trying too hard to be cool, saying words like “Owned”, “Word”, “Sup”, “You just got served”, but nevertheless is still fun.

Graphics/Sound :

I won't lie. No matter how much I like this game, the graphics is still kind of lacking. Nothing special, but I think they could've done better with the DS. But I knew before buying the game that the graphics will lack a little. Graphics is not a big enough issue to change my score. On the other hand, I really liked the sound. I love the tunes that go on when I'm playing. But then again, that's my opinion and I can understand that if you hate the music. Either you like it or you hate it.

Playtime/Re playability :

This game has one of the longest play times compared to any other game on the DS. Like I stated earlier, you can easily pass 200 hours and there seems to be no end to it. Modes like survival, war room, combat, and verses can take forever to complete. Do not be worried about beating campaign once and getting bored of it, because there's just way too much stuff to do instead of Campaign Mode.

Final Recommendation :

DO NOT RENT THIS GAME. You will end up buying it. There's just no way anyone can beat this by renting it. Buy this game no matter what. Probably still one of the best DS games out there. Remember to never give this game to anyone as a gift because you will regret it later on. Sure you might be bored of it after you beat most of the stuff, but that doesn't mean you should give it away. A few years later, you'll end up playing it again and it'll consume 200+ hours of your life all over again. I never got bored of the previous Advance Wars and I doubt I will get bored of this one, especially with all the new contents they've added.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/23/06

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