The Nintendo 3DS launched with approximately 14 titles, and while not all of them are home runs, there are a few that are worth picking up if you happened to score a 3DS this week. Two titles that I believe are buys for this handheld are Pilot Wings and Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. These two games embody the spirit of the 3DS perfectly by utilizing the 3D capabilities to perfection. Each one is different in nature and will give gamers two unique experiences in 3D gaming on a portable system. Pilot Wings is a great game for leader board junkies, as well as perfectionists, while GRSW caters to the tactical strategy gurus of the gaming world. Both of them are worth bundling with your new toy, so I hope my mini-review of each title helps to make your purchasing decisions easier when it comes time to settle on some software for your new 3DS.
Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars
The Awesome – Tactical Gameplay, 3D Use
The Not So Awesome – Overall Graphic Quality
Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars could be considered to be in the same genre as a Final Fantasy Tactics, or even the classic Shining Force series that initially released on the Sega Genesis. The gameplay consists of maneuvering your units around a battlefield scenario in a chess like setting to eliminate your opposition. Each character has a set amount of spaces that they can move on each turn, so just like in chess you have to plan out your attacks a few moves ahead, or you’ll risk getting your squad members killed who are left vulnerable. As you can see below when it’s time for one of your characters to move they will have a limited set of spaces that they can move to. The clear spaces indicate where you can move to while the green ones represent tiles that you can attack from. If you’ve played Shining Force then this concept should be very familiar to you.
There are six unique classes of soldiers to use at your disposal, and each of them has unique abilities. As matches progress and you begin to conquer your foes you’ll earn upgrades for your soldiers in an RPG-ish style. HP will get upgraded and other attributes of your warriors will as well. To help aid you in your plan of attack GRSW provides you with a top-down map on the bottom screen that you can use to navigate the entire battlefield. This is also where you can check out each character’s stats while they’re selected. It’s a great way to keep the management aspect of this game separate from the 3D action taking place on the 3DS main screen.
3DS Dual Screen Map
Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars makes great use of the 3DS’ power when it comes to adding the 3rd dimension to its gameplay. Imagine playing an RTS like Starcraft. Essentially, that’s the view point that is also used in GRSW, but it’s in 3D. The 3D effect gives you a sense of depth to this genre of gaming that hasn’t been seen before. I wouldn’t say it adds much to the actual gameplay, but the backdrops are made to have some sort of 3d topography. So if there’s a mountain on the map you can realize its height, and if there’s a canyon you can realize it’s depth. GRSW doesn’t seem to use any 3D gimmicks, which is a bonus. Unfortunately, as you’ll see in the Not So Awesome section below, the overall graphical quality of GRSW isn’t that impressive.
The Not So Awesome
Overall Graphical Quality
The use of 3D in Ghost Recon Shadow Wars is well done, but the rest of the package isn’t much better than what you’d see on a regular DS. The on-screen characters look little more than faceless pixels animated with some cheap skins and movements. There’s no sense of detail put into the characters like there is in the background environment. All of the cut scenes take place in a static format no different than the between round consults you used to get from Doc while playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. There is no action per se, just some character cards with uneventful lip movements and on-screen text boxes. I would’ve like a little more depth to the non-playable scenes, as well as the actual character models themselves.
GRSW Cut Scene
Less than Stellar Character Models
The Final Verdict
Even with the chincy looking character models and cut scenes, Ghost Recon Shadow Wars is still worth picking up for your 3DS. It’s by far one of the best launch titles, and the gaming experience is enjoyable, especially if you’re a fan of tactics based games like FF Tactics, or even Shining Force. It provides you with 35 missions, as well as skirmish matches and local MP. The 3D use isn’t overcooked, and only adds to the environments that your warriors fight in. I give it an EB 7.5/10! This is mainly because of the mediocre graphics, but I’m also penalizing it for local only MP, and the lack of some sort of achievements. I really wish Nintendo would get on the whole gamer rewards bandwagon like MS and Sony, but so far no luck. Grab your copy of Ghost Recon Shadow Wars today, and make sure to check out a trailer for it below.
Ghost Recon Shadow Wars Trailer
Pilot Wings Resort
The Awesome – Great Use of 3D, Addicting Challenges, Ease of Play
The Not So Awesome – Only 3 Modes of Flight, Only 40 Missions
Great Use of 3D
Out of the two launch titles I picked up for the 3DS, Pilot Wings Resort definitely does the best job utilizing the 3D capabilities of the 3DS. Unlike GRSW, Pilot Wings is completely rendered to take full advantage of the 3D. If I had to pick one game to showcase how amazing the glasses-less 3D effect is on the 3DS I’d have to say PWR. The flying gameplay of this title just works well in the 3D space. While piloting your various crafts (Plane, Jet Pack, Hang Glider) the 3D makes you feel like your actually floating in your seat. This is even more evident when you turn on the first-person view to see the resort landscape that is the backdrop of this game.
Pilot Wings Resort 3DS
The 3D just works so well in PWR that it causes you to almost lose track of time while you try to perfect each challenge that is beautifully crafted for each flying device. I couldn’t help but feel like I was actually in the cartoonish aircrafts while playing this game. The 3D use in PWR truly showcases what devs can do when it comes to making games for the 3DS. Sure, the game is very simple if you break it down to its core, but if you want the full 3D experience that the 3DS can provide, then Pilot Wings Resort has to be in your collection.
Pilot Wings Resort is essentially a collection of 40 different challenges to conquer using each of the provided flying apparatuses. It’s one of those games that challenges you to execute each level perfectly to achieve a 3 star rating. Time, style, and execution are all taken into account in each challenge, so if you falter in one of these areas your score will reflect the error. This is where the addicting part comes in. I’ve found myself reloading missions until I achieve a perfect score by nailing all requirements that have been presented in each challenge.
I think the main reason for this is that the challenges are short in nature, usually taking less than a minute to complete, so for those of you that have zero patience for long loading screens after a strenuous challenge, you won’t have to worry about going mental in PWR if you don’t perfect your run on the first try. It’s just one of those games that is simple on the outside, but the allure of achieving perfection will force you to squeeze every dollar out of your 3DS game purchasese.
PWR Plan e Mode
PWR Jet Pack Mode
PWR Hang Glider Mode
Ease of Use
PWR is great to look at, and it provides some sort of an addiction, but it’s other feature that makes it a great game is that it doesn’t really have any barriers to entry as far as the gameplay goes. If you know how to use a joystick you can play this game. This is an important factor to consider when choosing which 3DS titles to pick up. If you want one that only the most hardcore of gamer can use then PWR isn’t for you, but if you want a game that even your parents might enjoy and be able to pick up and play, then you have to add Pilot Wings Resort to your collection.
The Not So Awesome
Only 3 Modes of Flight
Unfortunately, PWR only offers 3 modes of flight right out of the box. While piloting a plane, jet pack, and hang glider are fun, I would’ve like to have seen a little more variety. I was thinking something along the lines of a helicopter, or maybe even a sky diving suit with wings like the ones those adrenaline junkies use to jump off of mountain tops. I feel like after a few hours playing this game that most gamers will be looking for another vehicle to pilot. Each vehicle has different challenges that cater to it, but once you’ve played a few they all seem pretty much the same because the vehicle mechanics don’t really change in each challenge. This is a small gripe, but I would’ve like to see some more flavors when it comes to which aircrafts I can pilot in PWR.
Only 40 Missions
The other bummer about PWR is that it only has 40 total missions, so if you don’t care about perfecting each one you could probably blow through this game in just a few hours. You can try and beat your old records on each mission, but once you perfect one there really is no reason to play it again. Since there really isn’t a true MP piece to the missions the replayability factor tends to suffer. Once you perfect each mission the game is essentially over unless you start a new save. Maybe Nintendo will add some DLC, but at this time that feature isn’t available on the 3DS.
Plane Mission Target Shooting
The Final Verdict
If you really want to make your gaming friends feel like losers when you show off your new 3DS I’d highly recommend buying Pilot Wings Resorts. Out of the 14 launch titles it probably does the best job at realizing the true potential of the 3DS and its use of 3D gaming. Even though it lacks more content it’s still a great game to showcase the amazing power of the 3DS. The gameplay is very addicting even if there’s only 40 total missions. PWR is one of those games that’s great for wasting time, and its gameplay makes it easy for all skill levels to pick up. I give it an EB 8.5/10. The only thing preventing it from a 9 is the fact that there’s only 3 aircrafts to start with, and the game only comes with 40 missions. If you want a fairly stress free 3D game make sure to pick up your copy of Pilot Wings Resort today, and don’t forget to check out the trailer below.
Pilot Wings Resort 2D Gameplay Footage
You’ve been given two more reasons to go buy a Nintendo 3DS…
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