By Jeff Green
March 12, 2008 - 08:00
Instead of the usual happy go lucky theme, and bright green environments of previous games in the series, this time the game is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Meteors have struck earth, 90% of the population has perished, dust clouds fill the sky, blotting out the sun, and the last remaining humans are fighting their situation and each other for survival. While the story does get a little heavy handed, overall it's a nice change of pace for the series, and could inspire consumers who haven't given the series a chance, due to its youthfulness, to pick it up.
The way the game plays is very similar to previous incarnations of the franchise. Taking the role of a newly recruited soldier, the player must command all sorts of different land, sea, and air bound vehicles in a war to defeat the opposing side. There are well over 20 different units which can be obtained, and each have various weaknesses and strengths to opposing units. So while it may seem smart to load up on the biggest badboys around, every unit has something which can take it down as well, so diversifying is the name of the game.
Also important, though to a lesser extent, is terrain. There are multiple types of terrain, including mountainous, ruins, wasteland, road, etc. not all of which can be traversed by all unit types. Gaining access then becomes a major part of the game. In fact, that's what transport boats and helicopters are for. How else would you get your army to the other side of a map when it's split in half by a lake?
Each individual unit has an amount of health, fuel, and ammunition. While the health is pretty easy to keep track of, it can get quite difficult to remember to keep track of the others, even though they're thrown up on the top screen at all times. It takes a considerable learning curve to remember to keep track of all these things, but once it's all figured out things do come together nicely. Refuelling and restocking of ammunition can be done at different buildings on the map, dependent on the type of vehicle. Health can also be regained by resting on a building which is occupied by your forces. These buildings play a major part in the game as well, for the more area and buildings captured by the squad, the more money earned each turn. This money can then be used to buy new vehicles and units, which are absolutely essential if there is to be any hope in winning the fight.
There's also, of course, DS multi-card play which plays exactly as it should, with two teams on opposing sides, no surprises there. What is new for Days of Ruin is the online mode. For the first time in the series' portable history gamers can take on each other anywhere around the world. Matches are easy to jump into and find, but be warned that other players out there are very experienced. Players can also create new maps and upload them to the servers for download by other players. Simply put, there is a whole lot of game to be had.
Environment and Graphics
The series doesn't seem to really have made any steps forward graphically in recent years, either. It still uses flat 2D sprites on top of 2D backgrounds, with portraits of the attacking phases shown on the top screen. The new devastated look of the environments does serve to change things up a bit, but overall this still looks like GBA standard. Not to say it looks bad, because it doesn't. It's just same old same old.
As far as music goes, it fits the game well. It's not overpowering, but just intense enough to keep you informed that there is a war going on. Don't expect it to leave a major impact, though, as the same themes repeat over and over, and eventually grow tiring. It would also be nice if some voice found its way into the game. By now there have been plenty of games to fully use voice acting, from Ultimate Spider-man to Nintendo's own Professor Layton and the Curious Village , and it would really add to the experience.
Environment and Graphics: 7
Verdict: Buy it or Rent it