Advance Wars 2 (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew
It's fair to say that no one was really excited about the original Advance Wars when it appeared some years ago, with many gamers simply bypassing its release and moving on to more familiar titles such as Mario and Zelda. There was little in the way of fanfare until of course the word spread and the word in question was very positive indeed. The fact is Advance Wars quickly became an essential title for any GBA owner thus it was only a matter of time before there was a sequel and fast forwarding to 2003 brings us Black Hole Rising. Sequels can do one of two things though: either offer more of the same or a significantly more rewarding and enjoyable gaming experience. Ask most owners of the original and they'll tell you there's little room for improvement so just what have those people at Intelligent Systems got in store for us all?
Advance Wars is a turn-based strategy game with the objective being to wipeout your opposition. The Black Hole Army's wish is to generally cause havoc and of course destroy their enemy, which just so happens to be you. The battles take place on what can best be described as a grid with each member of your miniature army limited by both their firepower and the distance they can travel. There are many other things to take into consideration and obviously a tank has far better armor than a single sniper but for now we'll try and keep it simple. Each turn is measured in days with you doing your best to stop the enemy in their tracks whilst they are doing the same to you. This is where the strategy element comes in so while the initial levels may see you storming to victory, in later battles you must carefully plan your every move a little like chess.
It's not all on land either, just as with a more realistic simulation you'll have to deal with mountains, seas and even weather conditions. One of the earlier levels for example, has the opposition shrouded in mist and generally hidden away. To get round this you have to post an infantryman high up on the mountains to give him and the rest of your army a better vantage point. Not all missions are about simply defeating the enemy either. In some you are challenged to capture buildings, which are usually in enemy territory, and which can only be achieved by your infantry, meaning that you not only have to attack the opposition but also protect your own men. The fact is the whole game is incredibly complex but at the same time very engaging. Like a lot of gamers this might not be the type of game I'd usually choose but it?s very hard to put down.
Once you've completed the game in Campaign Mode and explored the War Room there's the opportunity to create your own maps with the rather handy and fully featured Map Creator. These can then be saved and shared with other players via the link cable. On the subject of other players there's also a multiplayer mode which, although only five Maps are available, is even accessible from a single copy of the game. Get yourself a few more copies though and up to four players can battle it out until only one of you remains. This actually brings a whole new dimension to the game and it's nice to see a multiplayer option that hasn't just been bolted onto the main game as something of an afterthought.
Absolutely nothing complicated here with the gameplay having more in common with a board game than anything remotely computerized. That is until you realize that every single component on the screen moves in a different fashion whilst possessing very different properties. Fortunately the tutorial is outstanding and your team leader back in HQ describes every new move and concept a little like a drill section. You'll even get tips regarding the best way to combat an enemy and how to use certain situations to your full advantage.
Visually Advance Wars is more functional than outstanding but for once this isn't a drawback. That's mostly due to the overhead map interface that the majority of the game is played from with clarity being far more important than detailed sprites. It a wise move too because as you progress though the game you'll occasionally miss an important detail (such as leaving soldiers in the thick of the action) which could cost you the battle. There are some highlights though such as the animated 'side on' battles which show the true splendor of the anime visuals. Overall though there's little to separate this latest outing from the original, which is no bad thing when you're treated to visuals of this quality.
Audio wise, and as with the visuals, Black Hole Rising is almost identical to the original and a lot of the sound effects and music tracks have been 'borrowed'. This is not such a bad thing as the first outing sounded wonderful although as with all GBA titles it does tend to become a little repetitive after a while.
It's hard to find fault with Advance Wars 2 in any department so if you enjoyed the first outing expect more of the same in this excellent sequel. There is, however, nothing really unique here so if you were one of the many gamers expecting a brand new game then you'll undoubtedly be a little disappointed as this is really more of an Advanced Wars 1.5. It's still a very engaging title though whether you indulge in a single player game or one of the multiplayer bouts which makes a refreshing change as most developers usually only really concentrate on one or the other. I really could go on for some time singing the praises of this game but it's probably best if you just get yourself a copy as soon as possible. This really is one of those titles that should be in every serious Gameboy collection and if you haven't considered a game of this genre before expect to be thoroughly converted.
Pro: Deep, Varied Gameplay
Con: Very Similar To The First
Final score: 9.1
|Platform:||Game Boy Advance|