Advance Wars: Days of Ruin First Look

Under the hood, it's the same strategy game you know and love. But Intelligent Systems has overhauled just about everything else in this new sequel.

If you've been clamoring for a new Advance Wars to hit the Nintendo DS--and we suspect there are a lot of you--you're in luck. Developer Intelligent Systems is back with a second game in the massively popular, cutesy strategy series due out early next year. Except Advance Wars: Days of Ruin isn't so cute anymore. The core strategy gameplay here remains largely unchanged, but the wide-eyed anime stylings and jubilant, juvenile commanding officers of the past games have given way to a far more serious visual style and a lot of doom and gloom in this new sequel.

Days of Ruin has no connection whatsoever to the past series installments. It takes place in an entirely new world where a large-scale meteor shower triggered massive global destruction that eradicated 90 percent of the population. After the catastrophe, the survivors have formed together into militaristic bands that are warring over the last remaining scraps of civilization. You'll take control of Will, a young military cadet (whose hair is admittedly just a little spiky) who quickly becomes embroiled in the conflict at the outset of the game. The storyline is still conveyed through dialogue-heavy cinematics, but the characters have a much more rough-and-tumble look and a dourer attitude. One of the enemy commanders, affectionately known only as "the Beast," at one point makes a reference to wearing a necklace of human ears. Look at you, Advance Wars, you're all grown up!

We got to play a sample mission from early in the game and found the gameplay in Days of Ruin to be almost exactly like you'll remember from Dual Strike. There are a lot of subtle improvements, though, and of course some new units. You can now zoom in and out of the battlefield to get a wider view of the overall tactical situation or focus on one local skirmish. Nintendo has also "optimized" the stylus controls in the game, which will supposedly make the game much more playable via the touch screen than in the last game. On the new-unit front, we saw a new light-armored vehicle that can fire a flare to reveal a large part of the map (by eliminating the fog of war), and it can also lightly attack with machine-gun fire. There's also a new motorcycle with a sidecar that's one of the most nimble units in the game. In addition to its speed, the bike's biggest advantage is that it can capture enemy buildings, just like infantry. Of course, there will be plenty of other new units in here, but Nintendo wasn't ready to show them off yet.

Some of the new gameplay changes won't reveal themselves until you've spent more time with the game. For instance, individual units can now level up as they gain combat experience, and then you can bring them into subsequent missions with you. For instance, a powered-up tank unit that only had seven tanks in reserve might still be able to best a 10-strong tank unit with no previous experience. The commanding officers' special powers have purportedly been greatly reduced in potency as well. You'll gain them much later in the game now, and they won't have the potential to completely swing the flow of battle in the opposite direction the way they did in the last few games. Now the focus is more on your overall strategy, and though you can use a CO power to aid your combat effort, you won't be able to rely on using a carefully timed power to turn the tide all by itself.

How about online multiplayer? Of course, it's in here--you can go head-to-head over Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection service to get your online battling on. We were surprised to learn you'll even have full voice chat during online matches via the DS's built-in microphone and speakers--no external headset required. The game will also offer a full map-creation utility as in past games, and this time you can upload them for others to download directly. We didn't get a look at the multiplayer firsthand, but it certainly sounds as if Nintendo is giving online COs the full spectrum of options.

So far, Days of Ruin looks like the perfect example of how to jump-start an established franchise without messing with the core features that made that series great in the first place. You'll notice little touches here and there that make the game feel fresh. For example, the combat animations now depict the units attacking from a variety of angles, which makes for a more cinematic presentation. You'll get to find out what other changes have been added when Days of Ruin hits shelves in the first quarter of 2008.

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101 comments
sc_ajk29
sc_ajk29

I have mixed thoughts about this game. While Advance Wars is one of my favortie game series to date, and is my favorite strategy series on consoles, I will dearly miss Andy, Max, Olaf, Flak, Kanbei, Sonja, Drake, Jess, Hawke, and so on, who all made me love the previous games so much. Not to mention the fact that extremely dark and gloomy storylines have never been my cup of tea. I also do not like the greatly weakened CO powers, some of the coolest aspects of the series if you ask me. And Orange Star, Blue Moon, Yellow Comet, Green Earth, and Black Hole have vanished as well. Hopefully the gameplay, the increased strategic options, and the incorporation of RPG elements in Days of Ruin will make up for this, but I have my doubts. This game will have to be perfect to top Black Hole Rising and Dual Strike.

KiMcHiMaN
KiMcHiMaN

looks like this game is gonna be a last, i realy liked the duel strike and i bet thia new advance wars will be better! the characters look much better and cooler too

NanoElite666
NanoElite666

Although I will miss the characters and settings of the previous games, this new entry into the AW series still looks mighty fine.

ZERO-UNIT
ZERO-UNIT

yah i was always sorta confused by the idea that this game was all cutsey and then you just went around killing humans

Chef_Bretz
Chef_Bretz

This 'grown up version' was a long time coming. It was just itching to happen - this will appeal to a older audience who don't care for cheesy characters! It's gonna be tasty.

greater_bird
greater_bird

To be honest, I was perfectly happy with the big-eyed characters and less gloomy scenarios, but this is still Advance Wars, so it should still be great fun.

fieryseraph
fieryseraph

So when is the new Fire Emblem coming?

Katosepe321
Katosepe321

That's smart. 90% of humanity is wiped out and we have to go kill off some more over who's gonna rule. Smart people...

_Ninja_adam_
_Ninja_adam_

I can't wait i love advance wars it's like the only good thing Nintendo do

evilmonkey_clou
evilmonkey_clou

Wow, where do you live? I can still find copies of duel strike at wal-mart, even in Vermont.

CaRD0N
CaRD0N

Can't wait. Still playing Duel Wars which I had to buy off ebay since can't find it anywhere in stores. SWEET!

picklepik
picklepik

Man, the campaigns in the games were too long and too hard. I never beat the first and am still trying to beat Dual Strike. I hope there can be more difficulty options in the game.

david61391
david61391

the first advance wars were amazing! this is the game i've been waiting for for 2 years!

placi69
placi69

Cool!!!! :) Still, I have to finish the first... :/

Hindle_1
Hindle_1

Online multiplayer!!!!!!!!! I'll have to get the game just for that

darkxinos
darkxinos

I love Advanced Wars, and it's cool that they are making it more serious. Can't wait :3

CapRandor
CapRandor

Looks a lot like civ II, Im not that sure of the new look. The story sound like crap, thats for sure. Nice with the online

zedjay
zedjay

sweet... online was needed in AW:DS...this would be great for those long wait times in the airport

nighthawk456
nighthawk456

I love advance wars but they are so rare where I live!

zaphod_b
zaphod_b

This was a great game on the GBA. Too bad I don't have a DS. I'd really like to see them make a ramped-up version of this for the Wii.

grigbreaker321
grigbreaker321

Not only will days of ruin be better than dual strike, but more bad ass too

m1lkshakes
m1lkshakes

Thank god... I needed this so my DS wouldn't get too dusty.... plus I friggin love TBS games.

kris1975
kris1975

THis game looks great. A definate buy if you like turn based strategy. If you own an Xbox buy Dai Senryaku it might even be better and is very similiar

jcontarino
jcontarino

I liked the little cartoons where o where did the love go! Also the game line seems stupid why would you fight after a meteor killed 90 percent of the population?

w33ble
w33ble

i havent toouched a single player game in more than a year, but im most certainly playing this.

RedRaven_XXI
RedRaven_XXI

I am ambivalent about the change, insomuch as I thought the cartoon style was meh to begin with, however the characters have grown on me so I'm sad to see them go.

SuperGogeta24
SuperGogeta24

still waiting for red alert 2 to come to DS :D

lowenergycycle
lowenergycycle

I don't like the new style at all - the old style of big-eyed lil fellas and their big silly tanks were much better. If they wanted to depart from the other AW games, they could've just hired a better script writter - the sickly and OTT story mode made me want to punch my own face off in Dual Strike. And AW2. Oh... and AW1. Everything else though: awsome. Kinda wish I hadn't lost my DS on a train now.

mcuth
mcuth

They did need to overhaul the formula a bit. The last three games were remarkably similar. One of the few adjustments made between AW2 and Duel Strike (and, I think, the best one) was simply reducing the length of the "Super Power" animation. Why on earth was it so lengthy in AW2???

Seabutcher
Seabutcher

The new style, I can deal with. Though I think it should be just a little closer to the old style. Don't like the nerfed CO powers, though. I used to have strategies built around them >_

just4yoshi
just4yoshi

Hm... I don't like this new style by any means. Hopefully the level up features will overshadow the new style.

link631
link631

love advance wars and there in smash bros brawl yay

rage01aba
rage01aba

A new AW and an adult one at that. A new Storyline and if its like its past installments a boat load of hours of play. Pre-ordering will happen immediately!

captainfork
captainfork

I've been waiting for this day...the day we hear about the next AW installment. It is a good day.

grafkhun
grafkhun

awesome, hope its as good or better than dual strike.

Mokosomo
Mokosomo

WTF! They basically gutted what made AW=AW! The CO powers are getting nerfed! They BETTER make this as good as the originals...

dunkaroos1000
dunkaroos1000

Im not feelin' this .I liked the simplicity of the art design in Duel Strike. That is what made it so original and special. I will give it a chance, but it doesnt look good right now

DivergeUnify
DivergeUnify

This is a good series direction. Is teh voice chat for everyone or just friends? And since there is voice chat, I'm hoping for 2v2's :D

MangoLlamas
MangoLlamas

Awsome, it looks like it features a slightly more mature side of the Advance Wars series, not that the first one wasn't great.... I like the details like the new bike thing and the 10% survivors!

Gamingcucumber
Gamingcucumber

I'm so buying this game. I'm still playing the original DS game to this date and still love the addicting tactics behind it. ONLINE!? Yup, I'm there.

Kanden626
Kanden626

Yeah, I spent like 6 months playing AW:DS nonstop. With this game's darker mood and WIFI WITH VOICE CHAT this game looks AMAZING!!!

magicaltrevor11
magicaltrevor11

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love Advance Wars and now Days of Ruin and fire emblem DS game coming out next year while battalion wars 2 and Fire emblem on the wii are coming out this year this is a great year for nintendo not to mention phantom hourglass, galaxys, and SSBB Nintendo is really stepping up

Numiami
Numiami

I can't wait for this to come out it seems like they can draw alot of great features out of the ds's two screens that will make the game better.

MatthewShield
MatthewShield

I'm mainly glad that it's got no connection with the other AW's. If I see Andy's freakin smily face one more time....*sqeezes stress ball*