|Dev: Ubisoft Sofia|
|Release: March 27, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
When I first picked up Ghost Recon, I was excited. A shooter on the 3DS? At launch? Color me surprised. However, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is not a shooter. If you are expecting a portable version of GRAW, then you are going to be instantly disappointed, as this game is actually a turn-based strategy game. Being a huge fan of the strategic simulators myself (in the vein of Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics), I can give this game a hearty recommendation to fans of tactics-based gameplay. In fact, even if you aren't a big strategy nut, the learning curve is balanced enough that you'll still enjoy Shadow Wars' campaign.
Though I'm hesitant to say it, Shadow Wars is like an introduction to basic strategy games. But let me qualify that quickly by adding that it certainly isn't tactics for dummies. The game introduces the basics quickly with a few tutorial levels, and then launches headlong into a deep, lengthy campaign that challenges you to use different classes and troop formations to conquer the enemy. There are six different classes, and you'll have to weigh stealth against utility, and brute force against durability. The great thing about Shadow Wars is that even though the game gives you subtle hints about how to go about missions, it never locks you in to using one class over another, and if you feel confident using stealth and healers in a wide arena where a heavy-arms class might be better suited, you can get away with it. You just might spend a lot of extra time in battle.
And speaking of time, that is one thing you won't have to worry about with Shadow Wars. The campaign is extremely long, and will take you at least ten hours to beat. Levels themselves start out simplistically, but as the maps get more complex and new elements are introduced, it's not unusual to need up to two hours just to complete a single mission. And that's without replays. Fortunately, Shadow Wars allows you to create checkpoints and save at any moment in the game, so if you don't have large blocks of time to devote to handheld gaming, you won't be penalized.
The game has an interesting progression system where you gain battle point levels based on your difficulty settings (which can be adjusted at the beginning of every level) and your performance in-game. As you gain levels, you will unlock new scenarios and content, which is great for hardcore strategy enthusiasts. And of course it ups the play value, as replaying levels to get more points towards your ranking has some serious appeal.