Advance Wars 2 plays out in a very similar way as its predecessor but this is not a bad thing. Sporting new characters, special powers, and new units, Advance Wars 2 is nothing short of amazing and hopefully it will win handheld game of the year again.
Advance Wars is often compared to PC strategy games. If this is the case, then Advance Wars 2 can be considered an expansion pak or a patch. This game is mostly the same game as before but it just adds more content. New COs, missions, units, and maps separate Advance Wars 2 from the first game.
In the first Advance Warsmany different armies were taking on the rest of the world hoping to gain complete control. Now, in Advance Wars 2, all the armies have sided together in order to fight the Black Hole Army and its leader, Slurm. Slurm has recruited henchmen to help him do his dirty work. The rest of the world must combine their powers to stop evil from taking over. AW2 contains heavier story elements than AW1.
Gamers will feel right at home when they pop this cart into their GBAs (or GameBoy Player) because Advance Wars 2 is just like the previous game. All the same rules apply. The player will take control of an army and try to defeat his or her opponents through turn based combat. Each army has a CO (commanding officer) in charge of leading his army to victory. Although the CO is not a moveable unit on the map, this special character will have a direct effect over all the units that he or she controls. Once enough attacks on the opposing army have been made, a special power unique to each CO can be unleashed. For example, Andy again has the power to heal his units while Max gains strength in his tanks but loses range in long distance attacks. In addition, Advance Wars 2 has completely new powers. Each character now has two special moves to choose from. You can use a special power when your CO meter is half full or the player can wait until it’s totally full to unleash a super power. The use of the half way full attack is good to get you out of a quick jam, but the super power attack can change the course of any battle.
All the units that were in the first game made it back into this one. All the same rules apply too. For example, infantry and mech units are the only units that can capture cities but have little firepower and can only move a few spaces each time. Recons are again used to scout ahead and are extremely useful in Fog Of War. Unlike Advance Wars 1, the player now has the option to choose from three different kinds of tanks. The different kinds range from small, medium, and Neo. But in order to deploy your army, you will need funds. To gain money, cities and bases need to be captured. Each captured city will produce 1,000g per day. Once enough money has been gained, units can be purchased and deployed.
Ground units are not the only type of unit available. Air and sea units can also be deployed when the proper bases are captured. Boat and other sea units are spawned from a seaport while airplanes will be launched from airports. Each base is unique to each type of unit. Air units include Bombers that can only attack ground forces, Fighters that can only attack other flying units, and helicopters that can shoot at ground or other copters. Navel bases can unleash a battleship that can shoot powerful shells at great distances to hit land or sea targets. Also, transports can be used to load ground troops while submarines can submerge underwater and stay out of enemy sight but consume a lot of fuel in the process. These are just a few of the units and what they can do. This game’s strategy level is extremely deep. When each battle is over, you will receive a grade on how well you did. The better you did, the more points you will receive which means that you can buy more extra features. New COs, maps, and versus battle maps can be bought from a store with your hard earned cash.
The type of ground that your character fights on will play a huge part in battle. If you are standing on mountains or in a forest when you attack, the enemy’s counterattack will be significantly decreased. Each square has a different defensive power. So it is in the player’s best interest to fight on mountains and stay away from bridges and roads. Mountains are a good place to fight but only ground infantry units can walk across this land. However, if you stand on top of a mountain during a Fog Of War match, you will be able to see further than you normally could. Planes will have the same defense no matter where they fly. Boats and submarines can find some slight cover in the coral parts of the sea.
Strictly new to Advance Wars 2 are new structures and types of missions. As compared to Advance Wars 1, Advance Wars 2 plays out in different types of missions. Instead of just two sides attacking at each other, the player must often capture the HQ in a certain number of days, blow up some pipelines, or destroy all cannons.
One new unit that you will encounter is a non-moving, but powerful Black Hole Army cannon. This cannon has a massive attack range and will deplete any unit it attacks by 50%. To defeat this unit, you must attack it at its front several times as you would to any other unit. The only difference is that it won’t counter attack. The weakness of this powerful new unit is that it can only shoot every other day (until later in the game). This brings in balance to this unit. Pipelines are a new feature to Advance Wars 2 and add a new element to the game. These pesky blockers will often divide the world map into two. To get to the other side, you must bust your way through by attacking its weak points. Once enough damage has been given, you will be able to move your army across. There are also fortress type barricades that will slow your progress. Walls will be set up around cities or other map units and the only way to get in is to destroy its weak points. The four corners must be attacked before the wall will be broken. These are new welcome additions that add more depth to the already challenging game play.
Besides having new special CO powers, new COs are introduced in this game. Adder, Lash, and Flak are all new members of the Black Hole Army. Each support their own unique style of fighting while performing different special attacks. The old COs are back as well. Andy, Max, Sami, Olaf, Grit, and Kanbei have all made the transition into the sequel. Each one still has their own moves and form of attacking, but they possess another super special attack.
If you grow tired of playing the maps that are given to you, then make your own with the level editor. It is here that you can make levels of 2-4 player battle maps. You can even give it your own specific name. Players of the first Advance Wars will remember this creative mode as it was in that game as well.
The play control is exactly the same as the first one. The control scheme is very simple. “A” and “B” are used to confirm and cancel selections and “R” will provide you with some quick intel on the surrounding terrain and/or unit. “L” is used to cycle through units that still have a move available for the current turn. All the battles play out step-by-step so do not expect a fast paced button masher.
The game uses the same type of cartoony graphics from the first one but with a higher amount of detail. Character sprites now show variation as you fight one army from the next. The color is not the only difference. For example, your infantry units have helmets and basic combat fatigues while Slurm’s Black Hole Army will have infantry units that look like the doctors from E.T. They have full body suits complete with a full shaded mask. This helps separate and distinguish whose army is whose. Tanks are also used in the same way. The game could have used a little more in the department of particle effects. It seems that you get the same explosion animation over and over. If a big tank nukes a big tank, there should be a bigger explosion. But if a little tanks shoots a recon, the same explosion will occur. As in the first one, the same battle tunes will repeatedly play. New music would have been a nice addition to the sequel. However, even though it is not new, the tunes will still please your ears and they fit the fun cartoony game. When you meet certain conditions in the game, you will be given the chance to change the color of your CO. This lets you give your game a personal touch.
There are a several modes of play in this game. The main mode of play is the Campaign where you fight battles in a story like fashion. Then there is the War Room. It is here that you can play just a single battle to earn money to buy new maps. However, in the first Advance Wars, you were given the option to participate in the Training Mode. There is no Training Mode this game. Instead, you are forced to play through the first levels of the Campaign game where you just simply go over the rules. These levels are boring and too wordy. Plus, if players are fans of the previous game, they already understand the rules, but they are forced to go through them anyway. This seems like a waste of time as veterans of the game will want to jump right in to the meat of the game.
This game takes advantage of the single pak and mulitpak link. In single pak link mode, the only option is to play a Pre-Deployed case. This means that there will be no bases of any kind to spawn new units. Each army starts with a few units and when those units have been destroyed, the game is over. This is still a great mode of play if you want to play multiple people but only have one copy of the game. However, if everyone owns a copy of the game, you can play on any map you want. It is encouraged for everyone to own a copy of this game as you will get so much more out of Advance Wars. The more you play in the single player mode, the more maps you can unlock in the multiplayer mode. Also, you can design your own in the Edit Map mode. And just for the record, Advance Wars 1 will not link with Advance Wars 2.
Advance Wars has got to be one of the most addicting games ever made. Once you start a level, you won’t want to stop until it is over. But for some reason if you must leave, a Save anytime function has been implemented. This is well thought out and necessary feature. Whether you are a fan of Advance Wars or are a new comer, there is much enjoyment in this game. Once you learn all the rules of combat, you’ll keep coming back to this game. Even when you finish the Campaign Mode, a harder one will become available. This brings even more replay value to the game. With its addicting game play, infinite replay value, and many things to unlock, you will never put this game away. Advance Wars is a fantastic original series that plays extremely well on the GBA. While it’s not necessary, I would say if you have not played the first Advance Wars yet, play 1 before you play 2 as it has a better tutorial and will bring you into the second game nicely. Advance Wars 1 can probably be found for under $20 now too – well worth it. Once you’ve played enough of Advance Wars 1, then purchase 2. It offers harder challenges, but you will already know how the game works.