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Game Review: Fire Emblem Awakening

February 25, 2013

(WARNING: While the ending and major plot points won’t be spoiled, it’s possible some unintended spoilers may appear in the review. As such, you should read this review at your own risk.)

Fire Emblem: Awakening has (alongside the Operation Rainfall games) been one of the most sought out Nintendo games (to be brought overseas) in the past two years. The amount of fans who desperately wanted the game to come to Europe and North America, along with the press coverage even before Nintendo of America officially announced it would be coming over was astounding. And because of that large amount of coverage and demand, we eventually saw Nintendo take a 180 in how they were treating the game. From announcing it only because a bunch of press members had to go and ask Reggie directly, to posting videos about it on all Nintendo run sites and its youtube channel, along with making a commercial for TV. It’s the promotion that fans of the series have always wanted.

I myself can’t say I’ve been a long time fan of the Fire Emblem series. My first introduction to the series was through my favorite game of all time, Super Smash Brothers Melee. And sadly, after that, I kind of missed out on the games released over here, as I originally wasn’t a major handheld gamer outside of Pokemon (And yes, I’m aware of the Gamecube and Wii versions. The Gamecube version was shown to me by a friend of mine, but I never got around to playing it. And the Wii version just didn’t seem appealing to me.) Sadly, I missed out on playing Fire Emblem for a while, which is a shame considering all the praise the series has received. The first Fire Emblem game I actually tried out on my own was Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, which I got through the 3DS Ambassador Program (and was my most played game out of the ones I received.)

But while Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was my first adventure in the Fire Emblem series, I still felt as if going into Fire Emblem: Awakening, that I was still a newcomer when it came to Fire Emblem. This isn’t like with other game series where I’ve played a few of the games, regularly bought new releases in the franchises, and knew all about the history of the series. Fire Emblem: Awakening is the first Fire Emblem game I’m actually paying for. And depending on how I thought about it, would make or break whether or not I’d be on board with buying future Fire Emblem titles.

So with all that said, let’s dig into this massive adventure known only as Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Graphics:  As per usual, I don’t consider a game’s graphics as a high or low point when it comes to giving a score unless they actually cause major issues that hinder gameplay. Fire Emblem uses three different kinds of graphic styles. You have your cutscenes, which look absolutely gorgeous and are pre-rendered. Character models for dialogue scenes and battle sequences, which don’t look as nice, but still look pretty good (and are backed up by 2D Images of each character when conversing). And the usual sprite images when moving around on your map that fans have been used to. Overall though, it’s a pretty good-looking game. Maybe not on par with PS Vita and Console Graphic games, but a good-looking game nonetheless.

Gameplay Mechanics: Obviously, since this is an RPG game, you’ll be playing through strategical means, such as selecting various characters, deciding where/who they will attack with whatever you feel is the appropriate weapon. Fire Emblem involves you using swordsman, bowman, and various users of magic in order to defeat your foes and clear the level’s objective. Previously, what made Fire Emblem stand out was the fact that if a character that you’ve spent time building up stats for suddenly died on the field, they wouldn’t come back for the rest of the game. However, for this game, you can choose whether or not to use that rule in “Classic Mode”, or turn it off. Veteran/Hardcore players still have the option to ensure more challenging gameplay, while newcomers and those not as skilled have an option to play with as well.

One of the other more noticeable additions to this game is the all new Partner/Marriage system. Basically, this allows for various things. First off, you can have your fighters near by each other assist each other in fights, as well as team-up if you wish to do so. Doing these things will form bonds between these characters. The strong the bonds, the more advantages you’ll have when facing off with an opponent while an enemy is near by. In addition to that, if the two characters happen to be Male and Female (Sorry those of you who hopped for a Mass Effect situation…), they can fall in love and get married, which can result in even more tactical advantages… as well as cause one or two optional levels to appear later in the game.

I have to say, the Partner/Marriage system is very addicting, and considering how I fell in love (pun not intended) with some of these characters, it actually made this system one of my favorite parts of the game. It actually kept me playing a little longer each time I decided to play the game than I thought I would.

You’ll also be allowed to customize one of the main characters of the story a little bit, and give him/her a name. While there isn’t a huge amount of customization, it’s enough to satisfy you for now. Maybe in a future game though, I’d prefer a little more customization…

Wireless Features: As the 3DS is Nintendo’s first true experiment with an online network for handheld gaming (Note I said online network. The DS had online gameplay, but lacked things like the ability to get DLC, game updates if it required it, ect.) Fire Emblem: Awakening was able to receive various things that previous Fire Emblem titles didn’t have. Spotpass allows you to obtain new characters, and fight your friend’s team to see who did the best job when it came to their team’s stats (I didn’t try out this feature, so I can’t comment on it). New levels could also be obtained through the spotpass feature for those wanting to play the game further outside both the story missions AND the sidequest missions. In addition to that, players who still want more gameplay can get DLC levels that feature past Fire Emblem characters, which you can add to your party and make stronger (I downloaded the free, for a limited time, first DLC level featuring Marth.) I think if you’re looking for a lot of gameplay content, Fire Emblem: Awakening should be right up your alley.

Story: The story begins with a rather odd vision sequence, where your customized character and a man named Chrom are confronting a powerful magical opponent. They eventually beat him, but not before he can corrupt your character, who then proceeds to kill Chrom. Eventually, vision ends and you wake up in a small field, where Chrom and his Sister (as well as a knight named Frederick) find you and help you up. Your character has no memory of any previous events of his life, other than Chrom’s name and (eventually) his own. Although the characters do discover he can use magic.

From there, your quest begins as you must deal with an upcoming crisis, as an enemy nation near the nation you’re currently in is sending in troops to force a war. Along with the arrival of mysterious, zombie-like creatures called Risen (and a mysterious warrior who comes out of a portal with them, claiming to be the legendary warrior, Marth), you must figure out how to stop both of these threats and keep peace throughout the land, all while trying to figure out what exactly your customized character’s past is…

The story can be a little predictable at times, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a bad story. In fact, the large amount of varied and lovable characters make the story very enjoyable. You care what happens to this nation, as well as the various nations surrounding it, and want nothing but to see all these characters survive. The Partner/Marriage system adds to this love of the characters, and although it doesn’t (mostly) add to the main story, it really helps make the story and the fates of the characters that more interesting to follow.

Final Thoughts: Fire Emblem Awakening is a fantastic game, and those of you who own a 3DS should highly consider checking out. Yes, even those of you who’ve never played a Fire Emblem game, or even newcomers to RPG game play (as the ability to allow all characters that die to come back in future levels, as well as 3 different difficult levels, one that is perfect for newcomers, makes it perfect for those of you wanting to try out this type of game for the first time.) The story is very enjoyable, and is only enhanced by the new Partner/Marriage system, as previously stated. It is one of the best 3DS games currently out there, and one that will keep you entertained for a long time to come.

If you’re a Fire Emblem fan, (who hasn’t already picked up the game) I think you should be satisfied with this game. Classic Mode allows you to keep the style of gameplay you’ve been used to, and Hard/Lunatic mode presents a challenge for those who want it. Not to mention all the Bonus Maps and Characters, and ability to face off with a friend’s team, will allow even more entertainment value from the game.

I give this game a 4/5, and once again highly recommend you check it out. At the very least, if you own a 3DS, go to the eShop and download the demo for free if you’re still on the fence about buying the game. Personally though, this was one of those few games that truly felt like it was worth its price, maybe even more than that.

Thanks for reading my review of Fire Emblem: Awakening. Please, feel free to comment or critique this review. Feedback only helps make future reviews better and ensure mistakes I’m not picking up on don’t happen again.

And for more news and reviews on upcoming hit titles, check back here regularly, or at my twitter account @TSilentWatcher.


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