When Advance Wars: Days of Ruin was released, I was not convinced that changing the setting and characters of the series was going to make a better game. I have played all the Advance Wars games that have been released in North America, and I became attached to the light-hearted characters and overall look of the series. Days of Ruin has replaced the setting with a more serious story and characters; a more war-like setting.
After playing through most of the game, I have actually been pleasantly surprised by the entire experience.
Days of Ruin is the most balanced Advance Wars experience.
Advance Wars has always been a fairly balanced game. All of the units have strengths and weaknesses and players have limited funds to create new units. However, the past few entries have continuously added more powerful tanks rather than introducing new mechanics or truly new units. The exceedingly powerful and fairly easy to obtain units sometimes caused the game to be unbalanced.
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin fixes these problems.
Completely new units have been added to fill in loopholes. In particular, a new anti-tank unit has been added that keeps even the powerful tank units in check. Another favorite of mine is the new bike unit; a fast-moving unit that can capture cities. Overall, the system feels much more polished than it has in the previous games, and while the same results could have been achieved in the traditional light-hearted setting I think the more serious tone ultimately led to the more balanced gameplay.
The serious tone fits the Advance Wars series better.
Advance Wars is always about war, and war really is not a light-hearted topic. While I love Andy, Max, and Sami as much as the next fan, they really turn war into a game. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin trades those well-known characters for a more serious setting and story. Instead of rival countries that constantly war, Days of Ruin takes place in a world where ninety percent of humanity has been wiped out by meteor strikes.
The setting ultimately leads to a better campaign story, but the story is not the most original and most of the characters are forgettable. If the series continues using the more serious tone in the future, the developers need to create a new setting, story, and characters for each new game. I think it would be a good change for the series.
The campaign could have been handled better.
My one major gripe with Advance Wars: Days of Ruin are some of the design choices on the campaign missions. The first half of the campaign – maybe even three-quarters – are designed very well. There are different objectives and the difficulty changes, but all the missions appear winnable. However, late in the game the enemy is given an advantage that almost always involves the ability to significantly damage all of your units within a specific radius.
I like challenges in video games, but this particular “challenge” isn’t fun. I forced my way through a few stages with these mechanics, but I gave up on the campaign shortly after. You can complete the stages, but it takes a lot of patience and a lot of time.
The custom maps and multiplayer options are reason enough to play Days of Ruin.
I haven’t been able to play Advance Wars: Days of Ruin against another human player, but I have spent much more time playing against the computer on custom maps (and other free play, pre-made maps) than I have in the campaign mode. The game is much more fun when you aren’t tied to mechanics meant to make the game unbalanced.
I highly recommend Advance Wars: Days of Ruin for multiplayer. The single player mode is worth checking out, but the difficulty of the final stages really sucks the fun out of the game even for an experienced Advance Wars player.
Play it for the multiplayer.