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Glory Days 2: Brotherhood of Men

For: DS

Top gun

Product: Glory Days 2: Brotherhood of Men | Developer: ODenis Studio | Publisher: Ghostlight Ltd. | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Strategy | Players: 1-8 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Glory Days 2: Brotherhood of Men DS, thumbnail 1
Some people still ask, "War. What is it good for?" Everyone else is generally too drunk to join in, though. They're concentrating on remaining vertical on the karaoke stage, so they just mime – well, until they get to the 'Huh!' bit. Everyone can manage the 'Huh!' bit.

So, war. Huh! What is it good for? Well, considering soldiering is the oldest masculine profession, it's surely a self-explanatory question. If nothing else, the 'Huh!' kind of gives it away.

However, despite its confusing (whatever happened to Glory Days 1, for example?) yet macho title, Glory Days 2: Brotherhood of Men seems to be undecided about the glories of war. Indeed, the ongoing correspondence between various combatants and their family members – as conveyed by letters bookending the game's missions – demonstrates a certain ambivalence for the whole escapade.

Good thing the gameplay is more convinced. Frankly, it's all about bombing the opposition into oblivion.

The set-up is straightforward. Drawing on the spirit of aerial arcade shooters such as Defender, you take to the skies in control of various types of aircraft (on some levels it's a helicopter gunship, on others, a ground attack aircraft or various fast jets). Your mission is to shoot down enemy planes and destroy enemy troops to ensure your own ground forces capture the entire battlefield.

The battlefield itself is a simple line of scrolling 2D territory, around a dozen screens wide. Each end is defined by one side's base and their weapons factory, from which a stream of units relentlessly trundle. In-between are bunkers that troops from each side try to capture. The more bunkers you control – these will fly your flag to denote ownership – the more cash you generate. The cash is vital, because it provides you with the means to build up your army.

Pressing the DS's right shoulder button opens up the options for using your warchest, which you can scroll up and down using the D-pad. Pressing B then creates one type of the selected unit. Soldiers are obviously cheapest, but as you fight through more missions, you're able to purchase anti-aircraft jeeps and various types of tanks. Other utility vehicles, such as a mobile helicopter refueller, also become available.

And it's the difference in pace between such strategic considerations versus the immediate thrills of directly brewing up a column of incoming enemy tanks with a bunch of air-to-ground missiles and bombs that doubles the fun of Glory Days 2.

One reason for this juxtaposition is that the game's artificial intelligence isn't very good or timely when it comes to automatically generating your army. Frankly, it produces too little, too late. That could be down to bad programming or cunning game design: it's hard to tell. What it does mean is you always have to be aware of your troops' formations and what cash you have available.

Sure, it's easy to build up a huge tank rush, but without supporting soldiers, you won't be able to capture the bunkers you'll need to generate cash and win the game.

There's a similar dynamic going on as you pilot your gunship or jet. You're easily the most powerful unit so your activities are required to swing the direction of the battle. In the case of the helicopter, you can also deploy abseiling shock troops into the heart of the action, while later missions provide special weapons you can fire using the left shoulder button.

But, of course, the more time you spend in the air – particularly in the later stage of a mission, when you'll have to fly for around ten seconds to and from the frontline and your base – the less time you have to check if you need more troops to capture a certain position your tanks may have over-run.

Presentation-wise, Glory Days 2: Brotherhood of Men isn't the most polished game in the world. Graphically, there's a lot going on – too much maybe, as the units look functional at best. And for some reason, the game includes a pair of rubbish 3D specs that are supposed to provide some sort of depth to the action. They don't, but the background layering that 'generates' the effect makes your eyes go funny after a while.

The aspect ratio of the DS screens is also unhelpful for a game in which the action is spread longitudinally. In that sense, Glory Days 2 would have worked better on the PSP, particularly as there's no real reason to use the included touchscreen controls. But on a positive note, the music's fantastic, though.

Aside from the 16 mission-strong single-player campaign, it's also worth mentioning the Battle mode, where you can set up customised games that enable you to vary the huge amount of gameplay options. There's a eight way ad-hoc multiplayer mode, too, although no gamesharing support.

All in all, a combination of action and tactical gameplay makes Glory Days 2: Brotherhood of Men one of the most surprisingly enjoyable DS games of 2007.

Its low-key nature means it will probably remain something of a cult classic, though. How different things might have been had Nintendo got its hands on the design and slapped on the Advance Wars brand? Glory Days 2's battle for players' attention against better known franchises wouldn't have looked anywhere near as gruelling.
Glory Days 2: Brotherhood of Men
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 21 September 2007
Providing both action-based and tactical gameplay, Glory Days 2: Brotherhood of Men brings a new, innovative experience to DS wargaming
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