Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
This war is one helluva mixed bag. Veterans from the first/will be a little disappointed that the designers poured all of their energy into making the Campaign mode more interesting, and almost none into making new units, which would greatly spice up the gameplay. How hard would it have been to rip off ideas from any other strategy title, like burrowing tanks or demolition crews? As it is, the deja vu in AW2 hits you like a 40-megaton bomb. Even the new walking-tank unit and superpowers don’t freshen up the experience. Is AW2 meant more for first timers, then? Luckily, that Campaign mode is one fantastic peace offering. Fans will dig the insane variety-from explosive volcanoes to objectives involving pocket-sized weapons of mass destruction, and more. The later stages are tough, though-so tough that you really have to play through them with the exact strategic plan the designers had in mind; you almost feel like a rat in a brain-stumping maze. Halfway through AW2, nonhardcore players will give up and go AWOL.
Shoe’s dead-on about how little has changed from the first AW. The sequel packs the same simple visuals and strategy system, but I think the rewarding game-play’s even better this time around. Trust me when I say you’ll work your noodle overtime commanding troops and plotting the best routes to seize enemy bases. Diverse mission objectives spice up solo play, and challenging (and usually losing to) strategy gurus like Shoe in multiplayer still rocks. Military analysts predict that AW2 is about to invade my personal GBA library.
If you loved Advance Wars, you need to play Advance Wars 2, and if you missed the last game, this is a great place to start. It’s incredibly fun and superaddictive. Be warned, though, it’s hard. And I mean hard to the point where if you make one wrong move, it might be best just to start a round completely over. Still, it’s very worth the serious time and effort you’ll invest plowing through its tactical depths. Just be prepared to ignore work, school, and loved ones for awhile. A long while.