Advance Wars: Dual Strike review: Advance Wars: Dual Strike (DS)

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The Good Deep, engaging gameplay. Tremendous replay value.

The Bad Average graphics and sound. Slow pace may put off some gamers.

The Bottom Line Despite being best known for pick-up and play gaming, the Nintendo DS boasts one of the deepest, most engaging strategy titles on any console in Advance Wars Dual Strike.

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Despite being released in conjunction with the Nintendogs juggernaut, Advance Wars Dual Strike could not be more different. While the stunningly rendered puppies in Nintendogs are best petted and played with in small doses, Advance Wars Dual Strike will easily steal hours of your life despite featuring graphics that can charitably be described as functional. The one thing they have in common is that both offer top notch entertainment and unreservedly deserve a place in your collection.

Taking control of Commanding Officers (COs) from the Allied Nations, you'll pit your wits, tanks, soldiers and aircraft against the forces of the ludicrously evil Black Hole Army. You'll start each battle with your headquarters, a few troops and a small amount of cash. From here on, you and your opponent take turns buying or moving units, engaging in combat or capturing buildings. While this might sound simplistic and repetitive, the nuance and depth of gameplay means that each battle is a hair-raising affair as you constantly concoct plans and attempt to execute them.

The range of units covers land, air and sea, and includes infantry, tanks, recon vehicles, artillery units, rocket and missile launchers, planes, helicopters, submarines, battle ships and weapons of mass destruction. Each unit has a limited movement, vision and firing range, capped ammunition and cost. Add in the individual special powers of your two commanding officers, the effect of different terrain types on your troops and multiple battle fronts and you've got one complicated game.

Like an intricate game of rock-paper-scissors, each battle is a game of compromise. Should you concentrate on building your air force and risk a ground force attack supported by anti-air artillery? Or perhaps you'll decide to attack from afar with your navy battleships. But what if your opponent has a fleet of submarines lurking below the water? Alternatively, you might concentrate on defense, gather up your forces and hope that they don't have any satellite missiles.

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