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Fire Emblem Awakening on Nintendo 3DS

Fire Emblem: Awakening is perhaps the most anticipated Fire Emblem release since the series has been made available outside of Japan. The game was announced at Nintendo's 2011 3DS conference. Fire Emblem is the main series created by first party team Intelligent Systems. The game relies on strategy and thinking more so than most Nintendo games. It is the counterpart to the Advance Wars series with more RPG elements. The game is a great experience for any person who owns a 3DS to play. It takes full advantage of the hardware and has amazing graphics that really show the 3D effects of the system in the best way since it's release. It is the thirteenth Fire Emblem released so far, and the 6th released outside of Japan.
Console: 3DS
Release Date: 4/19/12 (JP); 2/4/13 (NA); 4/19/13 (EU); 4/20/13 (AU)
Genre: Simulation Strategy/RPG
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: T
Plot Summary:


In the future, the world is in a chaotic state. The Fire Emblem has been used for evil purposes due to events in the past. The fell dragon has been resurrected. Remaining survivors live in constant fear and panic. The divine dragon Naga predicted something such as this would happen, so she created a way to send brave warriors into the past to change the future.


In the present time period, we follow our main character Chrom, a descendant of Marth who wields the Falchion, as he finds the player's avatar (unit created by yourself). Chrom is the prince of Ylisse and part of the house that guards the Fire Emblem. As he travels with the avatar and his royal guards, (referred to as Shepherds) zombie-like units known as Risen attempt to kill him. This leads to one of these warriors from the future saving his life in hopes to change the events of the past to save the future. As many evil forces attempt to take the Fire Emblem and misuse it's power to resurrect the evil dragon, Chrom works with warriors from the future as well as his friends in the present in hopes to protect the present from being subjected to a tragic fate in the future.



Gameplay:


Fire Emblem is a turn-based simulation strategy/RPG game where you take control of a set of units on a map against multiple enemies. These maps are set up in a set of squares across a plain units can move through. Units can attack enemies with weapons or magic. Before you attack, you can see a window that includes, damage dealt (and whether you or your opponent can attack twice), hit chance, Critical Chance, and current HP. There are many factors such as group attacks and equip-able skills that can increase your chances of success. An animation cut scene will begin where the fight scene is played out. You have no control over this. Units can also be healed with staves. You must use strategy to decide if a move is smart or not. If a unit that isn't the main character dies, they are either dead, or forced to withdraw if they are still part of the storyline. You can never use them again.* If the main character dies, the game is over. As enemies are defeated, units gain experience and can level up to increase their stats. You gain more units to be used throughout the game. Each map is considered to be a chapter where more of the plot is revealed. The game requires much critical thinking and is not an easy game.


*Awakening is the first Fire Emblem title to come with a "casual mode." In this mode, units come back at the end of the chapter if they are "defeated." All hardcore gamers play classic mode though.
My Review:

Fire Emblem has always been the type of game that you have to already like to enjoy. This game is different though. It's much more friendly to those new to the series, and to my knowledge the normal mode has great explanations and a tutorial.

Let's start with the general: This is the first Fire Emblem game to be released on the 3DS. Upon starting you have the option of playing normal mode, hard mode, or lunatic mode. Then you are given a choice of either casual or classic mode. Casual mode allows units to come back and allows you to save anywhere on a map. Classic is where units are gone forever if they die, and you can only suspend your game while on a map, which means you can't really go back on any moves in a certain chapter, you'd have to start the entire chapter over. Although I'd never play it myself, I do like the addition of casual mode. It can help beginners adjust even more, and unit deaths can be on of the most annoying things to people playing if they work hard to train their unit and he gets destroyed by a horde of enemies. I started my first file on hard mode and classic.

My first thought was how nice the addition of actually creating your own unit was. You can totally customize him from his looks to his asset stat and a weakness stat. While he isn't the main protagonist, your avatar serves one of the most important purposes in the story.

The graphics of the game are excellent. I would say they are around the level of Radiant Dawn. The details on the characters and terrain are succinct and clear. The major cutscenes look outstanding, and it makes you wish the whole game looked like them, but just the regular graphics are nice. The character portraits are well done as well. The battle cutscenes aren't quite as good as Radiant Dawn, but they are still very nice and entertaining to watch. There is usually only one regular fight animation, one critical hit animation, and one for special activation skills like Aether.

The music is standard FE music. It isn't anything that will stand out and make you want to listen to it, but it fits for the game. Much of the music on the map is like Radiant Dawn and has a classical sound to it to stimulate the mind. Along with the music, this game has voice acting. All of the major cut scenes have full voice acting and regular conversations begin with the characters using their voices. You can imagine their voices better in this respect and this gives them a more real effect. For the most part this is a nice touch. Although sometimes conversations seem strange if the character says something contrary to the actual text.

I found that playing on hard started off just that. The hard mode is fairly hard (though it could have been easier with casual mode for sure), so you'll need to know what you're doing to begin there. I recently started on lunatic and found the beginning levels to be extremely difficult. I would not recommend this mode without one play through of the game on hard for a general idea of the difficulty. Normal I'm sure is fun to screw around on and use whatever units you like. Many of the first maps required planning ahead and good strategy or you could find one of your new units dead since they aren't super strong yet. Don't worry, you start out with your Jagan character to help you (can destroy everything early in the game, but is a less than stellar unit who won't amount to much in the long run, so you need to train your units who have more room to grow). The game seems to grow less difficult as you continue and your units get strong enough to handle themselves more for the most part. There are still many units that will need protecting. The fact that my healer was my highest level and was the first to max level tells me this was a good game with a good difficulty, and that was the hard mode. The levels pick back up in difficulty towards the later chapters, and the game will certainly stimulate your mind.

As I continued through the game, there were many plot twists that kept it very interesting and leaving you wanting to know what was happening next. The plot is fairly well written and it's nice how it connects to all the other games.

The gameplay is pretty straightforward and plays like any other FE game, though there are some new features that make it an even more enjoyable experience. You can now build support with other units by attacking enemy units with your ally units beside you. This will start a dual attack cut scene, where your ally unit has a chance to attack the enemy and guard you from damage. You can also "pair up," this lets two units occupy the same space as one and increase the stats of the main attacking unit. As you do this more times, you can have support conversations with these units to increase the chances of dual attacks and increase the bonuses gained upon pairing up. Many units of opposite gender can even get married to each other, which gives even more increased support. The support conversations are extremely humorous as well, and are a nice touch. It leaves you wanting to read and unlock all of them.


You know how I said there are units from the future that come to help the units of the present? Well, you only get one of the units guaranteed. The other units are the children of those who get married. The woman controls who it is (the avatar and Chrom being an exception). If a woman gets married, you unlock a side quest to hopefully recruit her child. The children units are really cool, because they get bonus stats and skills based on the stats of the mother and father. They sometimes come with outstanding power for their level and can easily surpass the units of the present because of this if trained right. Growth rates per level are also affected by this. It's a very cool addition that I really enjoyed.

You have many different types of units in the game. Myrmidons, archers, fighters, mages, clerics, cavaliers, and knights to name a few. They all have different specialties and different ways they can attack. Using them together is essential to move forward. Units can gain levels until they are level 20. This is where they can no longer gain experience as they are. (few exceptions) In this game, units can promote to an advanced class if they are level 10 or higher provided you have a master seal. You will probably want to wait until 20 to get the full growth though. Advanced classes have much higher stats and gain access to special abilities. In addition, there is an item called the second seal in this game that allows a unit to change classes. This will allow a myrmidon to become a thief, or a knight to become a cavalier. This will change your stats around based on the type of units strength and often times change your weapon. It can be incredibly useful. Another thing this does is reset your level back to 1 again, you can theoretically have infinite level ups (though leveling up still becomes harder and harder with each level even if you reset.) Class changing is a nice addition that can help units play a role that makes them more beneficial.

Another nice addition is that there are many side quests and places to get experience. In this game, you aren't confined to go in a set order like other Fire Emblem games. Although the main story must be played in order, side quests can be played whenever. This a nice feature if you need some experience or want a break from the main storyline.

If you do everything the game has to offer, the game can easily surpass 40 hours, depending on if you leave battle animations on the entire game and if you unlock all the side quests. It's a very long game, but even after you beat it, you may want to start a new file and go again. The replay value isn't infinite, but it's certainly a great travel game to play anywhere or on those nights you just can't fall asleep.

One of the best selling points is how this game appears to be a sequel to all the other games, even when the other games may have little to do with each other. Chrom is considered to be a descendant of Marth, The red and green cavalier aspire to be as great as Cain and Abel (red and green in FE1/3). One of the enemies is a descendant of Alm (FE2). An ally you get after the main storyline is a descendant of the "Hero of the Blue Flames" (Ike) and comes with Ragnell. Game names are shouted by one of the most charismatic characters during his attacks. Tiki returns from the first game as a playable unit (manakete). Anna (character in every FE game) is revealed to manage the outrealm game and can cross between worlds. This explains why she is in every game. It's really cool to see how past titles relate to everything.

The wireless features and downloadable content is nice. StreetPass and SpotPass can be used to get certain items and even recruit characters from past fire emblem games to your team. You can also recruit other player's avatars if you find them with StreetPass. You can access bonus items and even send out your own team as well. DLC maps are great, and a good ay to get experience on tougher difficulties since you can play them an infinite number of times. I'm a bit disappointed that I can't battle other teams online though. I did like that about Shadow Dragon. Another issue I have is that Ike's artwork in this game makes him look even younger than he did in Path of Radiance when he's a gigantic man in Radiant Dawn.

My biggest personal complaint is that when reinforcement enemy units appear, they can attack on the same turn they appear. This did not happen in other games. It frustrates me so much, you think your units are out of enemy range and safe, only for 5 enemies to appear behind you and kill you. Of the 5 units I had die on my first run, 4 were because of this. When you learn patterns, this becomes easier to deal with and you can end up protecting all of your units.

Moving on to the actual things that were lacking in the game, which doesn't have much to do with what is in the game or added, but what was removed from Radiant Dawn. Bonus experience was nice, and the fact that all units would move at least 7 spaces was nice. Maps seem much smaller and unit limits are more annoying. I'm annoyed by the removal of canto that allowed mounted units to have a hit and run attack, especially if these units were weaker.


Summary:

Overall, there isn't much to complain about. Strong strategy gameplay combined with nice RPG elements with nice graphics make for a great experience. The game is definitely the most beginner friendly and worth picking up. The game makes you feel extremely involved because you're constantly making every decision. The weight of the character’s lives are in the balance. You don't want to see any character die when you become attached to them. The gameplay and concepts haven't changed much, but they are introduced in a way that is fresh and makes the experience that much better. It is one of the best games for the system worth picking up if you can. I personally enjoyed Radiant Dawn just a little more, but I suppose it's more geared towards veterans. This game also has the luxury of being a portable experience you can play anywhere.
Pros:
- Excellent Graphics
- Solid tactical gameplay
- Constant involvement
- Great for beginners
- Well done story
- Nice music and voice acting
- Tons of excellent new features
Cons:
- Small maps and limited movement
- No Wifi Multiplayer
My Rating:
9.5/10



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Triforcegeek said...
Jun. 10 at 1:34 pm:
With your review, it is fair. You did a nice job on explaining and what happens on in the game itself. The one thing that you did keep over using is the radiance dawn game.I am a fire emblem fan and only played certain amounts of some of the games. I mostly like to watch people do play though of the games. I have not played radiance dawn yet or watched any play throughs of it. With the random ambushes, you are correct on that. It does get annoying when they randomly spawn and... (more »)
 
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