The third installment of the Advance Wars series combines addicting turn based strategy warfare and pairs it perfectly with the Nintendo DS. While it may not be as legendary as its predecessors, it’s still a damn fine game which shouldn't be overlooked by any gaming enthusiast.
Advance Wars DS has many different game modes, each one uses the same addicting gameplay, but they all put you in different situations that require careful strategy and planning to beat.
The first game mode you'll probably play campaign mode. Once again, Black Hole has taken over Omega Land and it’s up to successfully guide the COs (commanding officers) of the Allied Nations to stop Black Hole's evil schemes. Unlike the first Advance Wars on Game Boy Advance there's no field training that you have to beat before you can start the campaign. Instead, the tutorials have been incorporated into the campaign mode.
Most of the Campaign’s missions are completed either by rout (destruction of the opposing army) or by HQ capture. However, there are some missions that have special requirements that need to be fulfilled. These include; capturing a certain amount of properties, completing the mission in a certain amount of days (turns), completing the mission within a certain time limit, destroying a certain facility on the map. After you conquer all of the missions on the normal campaign, you will unlock a harder campaign. In this, the missions are much harder and place you in much trickier situations.
The gameplay itself is simple yet complex. While it’s easy to get the gist of it, it’s hard to master and find a good tactic on each level. Each unit has another type of unit that it works well against. For example, anti air tanks are great at taking out helicopters and planes but suffer when faced against tanks.
In each installment of the series, new unit types have been added into the mix and unfortunately, it seems like the once perfect formula has over balanced. In the original, every unit had use, but in Dual Strike some units eventually lose their use. One example is the tank. In the original there were only two different types; MD tank and tank. The MD Tank was more expensive and had less movement range but had better fire power, this made it useful for taking out close range vehicles, but because it had lower movement range than standard tanks, it would often be left exposed to artillery fire. Normal tanks were cheaper and weaker but could move further. This made them useful for taking out units that were further away. Unfortunately, when the Neo Tank was added it made the MD tank and normal tank useless. It costs marginally more than the MD tank and is much more powerful and has the same movement range as the normal tank thus making it useless.
One of the new gameplay modes that come with Advance Wars DS is the combat mode. Combat mode is a real time action game which uses the D-Pad to move with and the stylus to shoot with. It’s only really entertaining for a while and eventually it just gets ridiculously hard and boring.
One of my favourite features from previous versions that was kept in was the map designing mode. The stylus only really starts to show its use when designing maps because it allows quicker brush strokes. The only problem with it is that you can’t choose the size of the area that you use to build on.
The two biggest problems with Advance Wars DS are the loss of single cart multiplayer and no wi-fi. There is the option to play single cart multiplayer but, only on Combat mode. The lack of Wi-Fi is disappointing as it would’ve been great to play against a human player instead of CPU players all the time.
Advance Wars Dual Strike is an amazing achievement in gaming. How Intelligent Systems made an addicting turn based strategy game for DS is beyond me and the amount of time you can spend playing this is phenomenal.