Reviewed: October 5, 2007
Released: July 31, 2007
Whomever it was that said “war is hell” obviously wasn’t talking about video games, because there is nothing quite as fun as shooting bad guys in the face. The latest proof to this rule is a game called Glory Days 2 For the Nintendo DS by Odenis Studios. This game is the sequel to the award winning Glory Days, which was released in the U.S as Super Army War and was made by the same studio that offered up a unique blend of chaotic action and strategy. The game puts you in charge of piloting various aircraft around a 2-D battlefield blowing stuff up while also managing your tank crushing, gravel agitating, ground pounding grunts as well.
The general feel of the game is not that far removed from a handful of more archaic games, such as Choplifter and Desert Strike, as many of the same mechanics are present in Glory Days 2. Given this is all done with a more modernized twist, bust the basic ideas are clearly present in the games overall design.
The game follows the stories of a handful of brave pilots in some kind of assumed chronological order. The story is told through letters that these pilots send home before every mission, talking about their fight for the courageous blue flag army against the villainous orange colored bad guys. These letters can jerk a tear or two, but given the inconsistent quality of translation and the sometimes overly dramatic quality of the letters, this makes the story a little less believable than it could be. While Glory Days 2 tries to focus on plot, politics, and the emotional toll of war, the primary focus and strong point of the game is reducing everything in your gun sights to steaming bits of shrapnel.
Glory Days 2 is a game that is incredibly simple at first glance, but can quickly descend into chaos as more and more new features are introduced to the player. Every mission in the game revolves around one primary objective, to destroy the enemy headquarters on the opposite end of the map, and this primary objective is flanked by smaller supporting objectives that you help to accomplish. These tasks range from destroying enemy artillery, to calling in aerial bombardment, to rescuing civilians. Now here’s the kicker, you as the player cannot complete the primary objective on your own, but instead must rely on your ground forces, and support them in doing so by completing the secondary objectives.
Apart from completing your own objectives and keeping yourself alive in the whirlwind of chaos that is Glory Days 2, you are also charged with managing your ground forces by allocating funds to building new units to send into the fray. There are a small handful of units in the game that are designated with different tasks, infantry are used to capture control points and give you more funds, tanks serve as a cheap bread and butter unit against enemy ground forces, and jeeps are used to shoot down enemy aircraft. The player also gets access to more advanced aircraft as the game progresses, starting off with something that looks like a world war 2 era mustang and eventually working up to something more akin to a Top Gun style Tomcat.
While it is obvious that the player cannot win just by themselves and combined arms are the best and only way to win your battles in Glory Days 2, most of your units are nothing more than meat for the grinder as it is not uncommon to pump out hundreds of units for a single battle. This kind of gameplay leaves me to wonder where the strategy ties in to a game like this, as it would seem the bottom line of getting things done is to just shell out more units than the other guy.
If the whole concept of doing all this at once sounds just a little overwhelming, well it is. Most of the battles teeter dangerously close to the edge of being unmanageable. This comes in part to the somewhat overwhelming control scheme which while making flying your various planes around the map, makes keeping track of and managing your army something of a hassle, as you can never really do both at the same time very effectively. While the battles are certainly nothing less than chaotic nothing satisfies quite like blowing up column after column of enemy tanks from the seat of a pixilated fighter jet.
One might assume that because Glory Days 2 mashes so many sprites on screen at once, that the graphical quality might suffer a bit, not so. All of the units, characters, effects and environments are rendered with a surprising level of detail. Every unit in the game is given a unique look and color scheme so they are immediately identifiable, and while they may be somewhat exaggerated, they still look great and make it easy to tell what’s what.
The characters in Glory Days 2, although they play a small part, are still drawn remarkably well. They all carry a distinct, cartoon like, anime style with them, but this small touch really helps to add some small level of depth to the game’s story.
Explosions, rain, snow, and shrapnel, any number of the little graphical effects that dot the battlefields in Glory Days 2 are vibrant, intense and add a great deal of character to the chaotic battles that consume the player in every mission.
There are a handful of missions that compose each of the campaigns in Glory Days 2, and each campaign represents a different time period and theatre of war. A good deal of work obviously went into making every mission look at least slightly different and feel stand apart in some small way. Whether its simply being caught up in a fierce snowstorm or fighting against the backdrop of an urban skyline, all the environments in Glory Days 2 look fantastic and do a great job of immersing the player in the game.
While all of the sound effects in Glory Days 2 don’t really stand apart from the what is heard in most action arcade games, with the typical range of explosions and rocket fire rendered with an effective level of quality. But what really sets Glory Days 2 apart is its music.
The score has a very orchestral sound to it and would fit right in with more serious war games. Regardless, the music in the game has a good feel and quality to it and helps carry the emotion that the story tries to set.
While the single player campaign for Glory Days 2 is somewhat brief, weighing in at around 12 missions, there is a fairly solid multiplayer component and a mode allowing for custom missions. The multiplayer in the game allows for up to 8 players via Wi-Fi and gives the host the option of setting up a multitude of game types, as well as tooling around with various map settings, such as weather effects and starting cash for each side. The multiplayer games play out essentially the same way, except with up to 4 player-controlled aircraft tearing up the skies at once. The single player custom game mode supports all of the same features and allows the player to tweak the AI difficulty to their preference. While there is plenty to experience outside of the single player missions, the relative brevity of the campaign will leave most players wanting more.
Glory Days 2 is a game with its highs and lows, and certainly won’t appeal to everyone. However, for players who are willing to take the time to master the game’s otherwise complex controls and get used to the chaotic nature of the battles, there is still plenty of great looking, fantastic sounding fun to be had with this game.