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Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (known as Advance Wars: Dark Conflict in Europe and Australia, and Famicom Wars DS 2 in Japan) is a turn-based tactics video game for the Nintendo DS. It is the fourth game in the Advance Wars series, preceded by Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, and Advance Wars, although this series is a sub-series of the Nintendo Wars set of games, which dates back to the Nintendo Entertainment System game Famicom Wars in 1988.
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin was released in North America on January 21, 2008; in Europe on January 25, 2008; and in Australia on February 21, 2008. The release date for Japan has not yet been announced.
The objective in Days of Ruin is for the player to defeat the enemy army with their own army. Except in certain single player missions with special objectives, there are two ways to defeat an opponent: destroy all of the enemy's units or capture their headquarters. The battle system is turn-based. Two to four armies, each headed by a commanding officer (CO), take turns building and commanding units on grid-based maps. Every turn, units, which consist of ground, sea and air units, can move across the different types of terrain and attack enemy units or perform other actions, such as submerging a submarine or resupplying friendly units. Fog of War, a phenomenon that prevents players from seeing enemy units other than those in the visual range of their units, various weather conditions which change the terrain effects of the entire map, CO powers, and many other factors can affect the battle.
Days of Ruin has been altered from previous Advance Wars games to redefine the series' approach to war with a darker, post-apocalyptic style.
New units, properties, and terrain
Units can now level up in battle, increasing their capabilities. Units increase their level once for each enemy unit that they destroy. The level of each unit is identified as I, II, or Vet, with Vet (Ace in the EU release) being the highest level. While units with higher levels are more powerful than new units, the power increase is slight. Unit experience is not persistent, and the player begins each mission with new units.
Unit prices have been readjusted and several units renamed, as well as new ones introduced. New land units include the Bike, a highly mobile infantry unit that can capture properties; the Flare, a new tank-like unit that can reveal areas affected by the Fog of War; the Anti-Tank, an indirect-fire unit strong against tanks with the ability to counter-attack during direct attacks; and the War Tank, the strongest ground unit in the game. Additionally, there is a new sea unit, the Gunboat, which is armed with a powerful missile salvo that must be resupplied at a Port after each use. New air units include the Duster, which has the ability to attack both ground and air units; and the Seaplane, which is produced by Carriers and can attack any unit except submarines.
New properties have also been introduced, including temporary properties. Temporary properties cannot build new units like other properties can, but can only be used as stationary resupply bases providing some defensive cover for units, and can be captured. Each Rig unit can construct one of two temporary properties, the Temporary Port on a plain, and Temporary Airport on a beach (its supply of construction materials is not renewable). Additionally, the Radar is introduced; when captured it clears a five-tile radius of Fog of War.
New terrain is available in the game: Wasteland, which impedes the movement of ground vehicles; Ruins, which provide a minor defense bonus for ground units and hiding places in Fog of War; Fire, which is impassable and illuminates the surrounding area during Fog of War; Rough Sea, which impedes the movement of naval units; Mist, which provides a defense bonus and hiding places for naval units; and Meteors and Plasma. Plasma forms an impassable wall that no unit can cross, and is generated by Meteors. Once a Meteor is destroyed, any Plasma in contact with it disappears, allowing units to pass. Plasma that is not in contact with a meteor cannot be destroyed.
COs and CO powers
The entire cast of the previous games has been replaced with new characters. CO powers have been toned down, and no longer have the ability to instantly change the course of a battle. Tag powers from Dual Strike, which allowed players to move twice in one turn, have been removed. Players gain CO powers much later in the campaign than before, and they have a much less significant role in overall gameplay.
At the HQ or any unit-producing property, COs can join with a specific unit, and automatically promote that unit to Vet level, but at the cost of half of that unit's value. The CO's unit confers an advantage on friendly units within a certain range, the 'CO zone'. These effects are generally minor advantages such as attack or defense boosts. CO effects are constant and, unlike previous games, only benefit units within the CO zone.
As damage is dealt by units within the CO zone, the CO's power meter fills slightly. As the CO power meter is filled, the CO zone grows larger. When the meter is full, the CO can activate his power, which has an effect on the whole battlefield, such as refueling allied units or reducing the range of enemy units. If the CO unit is destroyed, the CO meter empties, but the CO returns to the HQ and can be redeployed with another unit.
The story plays out through 26 missions, with story scenes that tie the plot together occurring between and during the battles. In addition, 38 training missions are unlocked as the missions are completed. The training missions are more challenging, are entirely optional, and can be played separately from the campaign. One new feature in Days of Ruin is that campaign missions can now be played individually as the player completes them. Like the training missions, campaign missions can be selected from the main menu at any time.
Upon completing a mission, the player is awarded a rank, from C (lowest) to S (highest). The ranks are based on three categories: Power, Technique, and Speed. Power is determined by the amount of damage dealt compared to the number of attacks, Technique by the average amount of the player's units built and destroyed, and Speed by how fast the mission is completed. All three categories are rated on a scale from 0-150, and added together to form a numerical ranking from 0-450 in addition to their letter ranking; for example, any score between 300-450 earns an S ranking. Unlike previous games, the numerical score will not be converted into points that can be redeemed to purchase new maps and COs.
In a departure from the previous games, which included five factions in the campaign, Days of Ruin features only four: the Rubinelle 12th Battalion (Red), Lazurian Army (Blue), New Rubinelle Army (Yellow), and Intelligent Defense Systems (Black). These factions have different names in the European, Australian, and Japanese versions of the game.
In a first for the series, Days of Ruin includes online multiplayer over Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection service, as well as a feature for players to share their own custom map designs and download maps made by others. Over 150 premade maps are included in the game for use in multiplayer, and designed for two, three, and four-player matches. Multiplayer games can be played with only one DS game card: each player can pass the game to the next player when it is their turn.
When players create and upload their own custom maps to the Wi-Fi Connection, these maps can be tested and given approval ratings by other players from around the world. Players can download randomly selected maps from Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, or can choose maps based on their approval ratings. In order to upload a map, the player must win it once, and rate it based on its difficulty. The maximum size for uploadable maps is 10x10 tiles, and the player can only upload one at a time; if the player uploads another map, then the original one is replaced. Maps can have any dimensions between 30x30 and 5x5 tiles, and the game is able to store up to 50 custom maps.
When using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for online multiplayer, the player can choose between a match with a random opponent from around the world, or a match with someone that the player has exchanged friend codes with. Worldwide matches are limited to two players, with the size and conditions of the map being randomly generated each time. Worldwide match players can choose if they want an opponent close to their skill level or to play against an opponent regardless of skill level. When playing with a friend, more options are opened up to allow greater customization of the match, such as the type of weather and the duration of the match. Voice chat is only supported when playing with a friend, and is unavailable during worldwide online play.
Players also have the option of using local multiplayer, which requires that each player have his or her own DS game card and increases the limit of those who can participate to between 2-4 players. 28 classic maps from previous Advance Wars games, 70 two-player maps, 32 three-player maps, and 30 four-player maps are all playable with local multiplayer. The conditions of these maps can also be customized by the players.
Dark Conflict and Famicom Wars DS 2 are identical to the North American release, Days of Ruin, in terms of the storyline, gameplay, and features. Several minor details distinguish each version, such as differences in the names of the factions, characters, and units, as well as significant dialogue changes. This is due to Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe receiving Japanese copies of the game to translate independently, resulting in unique versions for each region.
The plot of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is considerably darker than the previous games in the series, and is unrelated to the previous series installments in terms of the storyline. Almost 90% of mankind has been killed off following devastating meteor strikes which have destroyed much of civilization and caused a massive dust cloud to blot out the sun. Scattered survivors pick through the wreckage, and the remnants of several military superpowers patrol the ravaged landscape, some factions protecting the innocent while the others prey upon them.
Following the disaster, which obliterated much of the warring nations of Rubinelle and Lazuria, a young cadet from the Rubinelle military academy named Will escapes the ruins of the academy's mess hall and is confronted by The Beast, a former CO gone rogue who leads a small band of raiders. Will is rescued by Brenner and Lin of the Rubinelle 12th Battalion (nicknamed "Brenner's Wolves"), and takes on the group's cause of saving as many of the survivors of the meteor strikes as possible. During a search, Will discovers the mysterious Isabella, an amnesiac who somehow knows detailed military information, and becomes a vital part of the battalion as they put an end to the raiders' reign of terror.
One year after the meteor strikes, the 12th Battalion comes into contact with the New Rubinelle Army, and learns of the war raging between the Lazurian Army and the NRA. Brenner reluctantly sides with Greyfield, leader of the NRA, and advances on the Lazurian force, eventually defeating them at Fort Lazuria. Distraught by the ruthless execution of the Lazurian commander, Brenner and the 12th Battalion break the Lazurian prisoners out of an NRA internment camp before they are also executed. While the group escapes, Brenner stays behind and hides in an abandoned city to buy them some time. An infuriated Greyfield orders the use of a new weapon which completely destroys the city, killing Brenner and the NRA troops searching for him. Lin later leads a force against Greyfield, preventing the launch of a wave of deadly missiles and defeating the NRA once and for all. In the process, Lin personally shoots and kills Greyfield, avenging Brenner's death.
The 12th Battalion is unexpectedly attacked soon after by Intelligent Defense Systems, a private military contractor and the secret instigator of the conflict between the Lazurians and the NRA. Caulder, leader of the IDS, has taken advantage of the world's devastation to carry out horrific and unethical experiments that he would have been unable to undertake otherwise. Despite numerous demoralizing attacks, the battalion survives and eventually pursues Caulder to his main laboratory and fortress, The Nest. In the end, Caulder is killed in the destruction of his lab, and the war is finally brought to an end. One year later, the village of New Hope, founded by the 12th Battalion after the conflict, begins to flourish in the new-found peace. The sun is seen rising above the nearby hills for the first time since the strikes, giving hope of a brighter future ahead.
Days of Ruin has received positive reviews. 1UP.com praised the new turn Days of Ruin has taken for the series, but noted that the storyline, while darker than before, was still close in tone to the humor of the previous games. The new CO deployment feature was called the biggest change to the gameplay. The game was criticized for the removal of several staple features of the series, but complimented the new online play feature as being "the most balanced Advance Wars experience".
Nintendo Power also gave a positive rating, calling the game "comfortingly familiar" with battles that are "more approachable than before." Online multiplayer was noted as taking "wireless connectivity and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection further than any game that has preceded it". One of the main flaws of Days of Ruin was identified as a lack of gameplay innovation.
IGN.com gave the game a high rating for taking risks with its artistic design, but also criticized the loss of old single-player modes in favor of new multiplayer content. The music was described as "typical video game techno-metal", and was consequently the lowest rated part of the game.
- Shepperd, Chris (November 2007). "The Path of Ruin". Nintendo Power 223: 54-58. Retrieved on 2007-11-20.
- IGN: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Preview
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Hands-On - DS News at GameSpot
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Preview Feature #2: The Changing Face of Warfare - DS News at GameSpot
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin First Look - DS News at GameSpot
- Advance Wars: DOR Nintendo DS Preview, Advance Wars: DOR Preview
- IGN: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Image
- Interview: Nintendo's 'Darker, Grittier' Advance Wars | Game | Life from Wired.com
- IGN: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Preview
- Advance Wars: DOR Nintendo DS Preview, Advance Wars: DOR Preview
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Preview Feature #3: Battling Around the World - DS News at GameSpot
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Interview - We speak to Nintendo's Treehouse about Advance Wars' latest incarnation | UGO.com
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Revealed - Gameworld Network news story
- IGN: Nintendo DS Game of the Month: January 2008
- IGN DS: Cheats, Previews, Reviews, Trailers and Screenshots for Nintendo DS Games
- Official Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Website
- Nintendo Game Information
- IGN Game Page: Articles, Screenshots, and Videos
- 1up.com Preview Articles and Videos
- Gamespot Preview Articles and Interview Video
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