Guest Author - James Shea
A departure from the standard Advance Wars games, "Days of Ruin" is a more serious-toned game than its cartoonish predecessors.
Days of Ruin takes place after a cataclysmic meteor strike that devastated the entire planet. Covered by soot and dust, the survivors of the impact must stay alive amidst the warring factions that seek control of the chaos. To sum it up: imagine if "Advance Wars" met "Mad Max". That's this game. The game follows Will, a survivor of the Rubinelle armed forces, as he teams up with other survivors from his army to protect the citizens against bandits and hostile forces.
The basic rules of Advance Wars still apply, and all the units from previous games (minus some of the setting-specific units like the Neotank) are present. There are a couple things that have been changed, gameplay-wise. New units have been added; these include the light recon Bike, the fog-of-war-destroying Flare launcher, the specifically designed Anti-Tank Cannon, the missile-launching Gunboat, the carrier-built Seaplane, and the anti-air/anti-ground plane, the Duster. The most distinct new unit is the Rig, which can build certain temporary structures like makeshift airfields, ports, and radar stations. Also, more conventional units from previous games are available - tanks, infantry, artillery, and so on. Another change is the scarcity of supplies. In previous games, there were counters for fuel and ammunition that would deplete after use (moving depletes fuel, shooting depletes ammunition). In AW:DR, these empty much more quickly to indicate the status of the destroyed world. There is also the added bonus of veterancy for units, granting bonuses in attack and defense for each kill the unit gives. This doesn't carry over between missions, but it goes up fairly quickly. Finally, the use of Commanding Officers (or COs) has changed - to confer their unique bonus on their units, they must be leading them. A unit can have a CO attached to it to make a zone of effect around it where the CO's bonus applies. Defeating enemies with units in the CO zone fills the CO's power bar and allows them to use a special technique that can change the tide of a battle. If the unit is defeated, the CO simply returns to headquarters.
Online gameplay is now available as well. The pre-made maps can be used, or design maps can be traded. There is also an option to add friends and make a friends list. The system is simple, but it works pretty well.
The graphics have been changed to reflect the more serious nature of the game. The cartoonish, bright, mis-proportioned characters of the previous games have been replaced with a more washed-out, somber color tone and realistic character proportions. As a whole, they are pretty good, though the use of colors like red, blue, and yellow for the uniforms is still sort of disorienting. The sound is pretty good, having been changed to an overall more rock-based sound than previous AW games.
As a whole, this is a pretty neat turn for the Advance Wars series to take. I like that it's more serious, though it seems kind of odd to jump straight to "post-apocalyptic scenario" with the new graphics instead of doing a regular wargame first. Either way, "Days of Ruin" is a solid game that carries on a good tradition.