Published on January 30th, 2013 | by Cody Perez0
Fire Emblem: Awakening Review
Is Fire Emblem: Awakening the definitive Fire Emblem game that everyone with a 3DS should own? Read on to find out!
Nintendo sure does have a habit of rehashing several of their most iconic franchises over and over again with little to no major improvements/innovations. Thankfully, Awakening is not the case. Die-hard SRPG (Strategy Role-playing) fans know that it’s been a little while since we ventured into what is in my opinion, one of Nintendo’s most hardcore and unforgiving franchises. Trust me, Awakening is no different.
Anyone new to this series has come to the right place. This installment is the perfect entry point for new players. For quick starters, Fire Emblem is indeed a strategy game and not a dumbed down one either. At the same time though, it isn’t so complex that even a more casual gamer can’t boot up the game and learn pretty fast. This is partly because of some of the newest features. There are your standard difficulty levels, but there is also a new Casual mode. For veterans, Classic is what you’ve always played but Casual is for, well, casual gamers. One of the iconic features of the series is the fact that when a character dies in battle they’re gone. Like, forever. Casual mode takes the tension of losing players for good and instead, just removes them from that particular battle. They will be available to you in the next battle and so on. The second important feature is the ability to save at any moment during your turn. While vets will go straight for Classic, I extremely encourage at least two playthroughs of this game for even vets. One, on the Casual mode, just so you can experience the entirety of the story with your whole team intact. Then again on Classic and see who all you can keep alive. Don’t think it’ll be a walk in the park though, as even on my first playthrough on Casual I lost two battles. You still get a game over if one of two characters are defeated. Who are they? Why none other than lead man, Prince Chrom, and your own self-made character.
I can hear your groaning already. I too was against creating my own character as I just thought that it would be awkward considering there would be no depth to them whatsoever. That’s where we’re wrong though. I was surprised to see that your character, regardless of gender, is integrated very nicely into the story, actually being one of the most important people. You play as the great tactician for the team, also explaining for the first time why the heck you’re telling everyone what to do. Not only that, but your own character can participate in the signature Support conversations. Basically, whenever two characters fight alongside each other for a given time they increase in their relationship, giving buffs and for some, even getting married. In case you were wondering, my brilliant and sexy tactician married Chrom’s younger sister, Lissa. Don’t feel bogged down, as there are numerous other options. Of course you’ll collect new team members as the game progresses, but I strongly suggest you do the side quests when they become available as there are some members that are only unlocked through them, including a redneck farm boy who is extremely weak at first but has tremendous potential if trained well.
Now onto the gameplay. There is one battle for each chapter. Before you ask, no that doesn’t mean this is a short game. This is a strategy game after all, so battles can take anywhere from 10 mins to an hour if you get bored or overthink things too much. You fight on a grid, with each character able to move so many spaces. Fans will know of the classic rock paper scissors weapon triangle of sword, axe, and lance. However, it wasn’t nearly important for me as previous games as there are so many different weapons and classes than just those. Magic became very vital for my group in particular, but you also have archers, healers, hammers, dark magic, wvyern fliers, falcon fliers, pegasus knights, cavalry and even some special classes that are just too cool for me to spoil for you. Though if you’ve watched some of the trailers, it probably already has been. While the strategy portion takes place from an isometric top view, each individual fight is zoomed in and has some pretty sweet effects. Here you’ll notice some of the biggest changes to the series. For one, whenever two of your teammates are standing beside each other and one of them initiates a battle sequence, they are both seen in the battle with the enemy. The dormant partner gives a buff, sometimes even an encouraging word, and most importantly, they will sometimes join the fight and attack the enemy along with you especially if their relationship has improved. I cannot stress how important and how much this was useful throughout the course of the game. Secondly, you’ll notice the graphical improvements.
During strategy sequences, the game looks just like an improved version of what you’ve always known. However, during these individual fight sequences and cutscenes, you will see every single character rendered in 3D, including the one you created. Let me just tell you that it feels like a true anime blended with gaming. To be more precise, the cutscenes take place in one of three ways. The first is your typical portrait of a character (with different facial expressions which is always good) speaking through text with another character. This mostly takes place during side quests or support conversations. Second, you have the scenes where you actually see everyone’s 3D character and they are talking to each other through text. Finally, you have brilliant (and sparse) movies that actually legitimately are anime sequences. This is the only point that the 3D on the 3DS really was useful, as it made the awesome art style look even flashier. My only problem, graphically, was the fact that no one apparently has feet. It’s like their feet are stuck beneath the ground, but then once a character fell over and I saw that they just don’t have feet at all for some reason.
On the sound side of things, there is voice acting. It isn’t used quite that often though. Mostly each line of text from a character starts with them saying one word or making awkward sounds that people in public will wonder what you’re doing. Yeah, that happened to me. Just typical Japanese, anime-like sounds. The voice acting isn’t really that bad, you just don’t hear it that often. The main time you hear any acting is during the already sparse anime movie sequences, but even then, it’s almost always just Chrom speaking. You can rejoice as well as going through the settings on the main menu revealed that you can indeed change the voices to the original Japanese dub, if you’re into that sort of thing. The musical score for the game is rather generic, mostly songs meant to pump you up during or before battle. However, there is one hauntingly beautiful violin melody that will only play at certain, key moments and it truly made me just stop and tweet and do other things while I embraced the melancholic tune.
On the online side of things, you can take a certain amount of your team online to play against your friends or you can even hire one of your friends’ characters if you need a higher level person and are just having a tough time with the main quest. Back to my original question though, yes, this is the definitive Fire Emblem game. The perfect entry for not only new players, but veterans are always welcome as well. Before you ask, no this is not a direct sequel to Shadow Dragons, so don’t go expecting that. There are plenty of references to that game though. The story itself is really good, but takes quite a while (almost till Chapter 9 or so when a particular event occurs) for it to pick up. Thankfully, it is a fun game that will keep you occupied until then and that any Nintendo, RPG, or Strategy fan should own. Actually, you have a 3DS? Then buy it. But I suggest at retail, as my download took almost an hour and a half and it ate up almost all of my SD card. Regardless, get this game! For more on the day one DLC and everything else 3DS, stay tuned here at TechZwn!
Fire Emblem: Awakening was reviewed with a digital copy of the game provided by Nintendo of America. The team and I appreciate Nintendo allowing us to review this game and are thankful for their amazing support.
Summary: The newest Fire Emblem game is the best in the series that any 3DS owner should have in their ever growing library.