Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Genre: Tactical Role Playing Game

Platform: 3DS

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Publisher: Nintendo

Released: February 5th 2013

The Fire Emblem series is finally back in the West with the first 3DS entry of the series. For a lot of reasons, Fire Emblem: Awakening almost marks a new beginning for the series, in an attempt to make it become more popular in the West, where not too many players know that the Fire Emblem series is one of the longest running Nintendo franchises. The game took its sweet time to get back in the West but was the wait worth it? Let’s find out together.

Chrom and the Shepherds

The Fire Emblem series is known to feature a medieval fantasy setting and Awakening is no different: players will follow Chrom and his guards, called the Shepherds through a plot with political intrigue which will evolve into something slightly different in the third act of the game. The twist is quite predictable and not too surprising, but character interaction and writing makes it up for it. The cast is varied and well developed, with most characters getting enough development during camp scenes and extra events. This is a good incentive to try and witness all the events and they are indeed worth it. The great localization work makes the characters almost better than what they were in the Japanese version.

Time to Battle

As expected from a tactical role playing game, all the game’s mechanics even outside battle are actually developed during battle: the core gameplay remains the same, with the same rock-paper-scissor system where a weapon has an advantage against another and a disadvantage against another. The system has worked so well in the past and there truly was no reason to change it. There are, however, some new twists on the formula, making characters’ placements during battle even more important. Just like previous entries of the series, you can pair up characters to obtain stat boots and extra skills: by placing linked up characters close in battle and engage an enemy, they will attack together as a team, with the dominant unit getting experience and the other providing some boosts. Characters placed near each other will also have a chance to attack together, even though there a lower chance of this happening. By making units fight together, they may develop bonds and unlock some extra missions and scenes: male and female units may develop love, marrying and having children, whom will join your army during some optional events.

A customizable warrior

The game also makes good use of the Streetpass and Spotpass features of the game, using the character you have created and customized at the beginning of the game: customization is not too deep, but it serves well. In these two features, your character will appear during random battles in other players games and will also be able to recruit more characters which you have recruited in your own game. I still haven’t being able to try this feature out, but it looks like a nice added bonus, even though it’s entirely optional.

Shining battlefields

Graphics wise, the game looks great: 2D portraits are really well done and detailed. Battlefields may look a little bare during movement phases but once you engage enemies, the visuals will change to full 3D and these are incredibly rewarding scenes, with characters running, jumping and attacking each other. Think of the Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn scenes scaled down for this portable version. The soundtrack is quite good as well, with varied tracks which are used to stress out epic moments, as well as some more laid back events. It’s a tight package from this point of view as well.

Final Thoughts

Fire Emblem: Awakening is definitely a great game and a more than worthy entry of the series. It’s still too soon to say that it’s the best Fire Emblem game but even if it isn’t, it gets pretty close to it. There are some nice extra options which allow newcomers to enjoy the game to the fullest: the permanent death mechanic can be turned off and there are three different difficulty settings. Veterans will love the game for all the additions to the formula, characters development and new gameplay mechanics. Newcomers may come to love the series after playing Awakening, which is one of the best 3DS games released so far.

PROS

  • Excellent localization
  • Great gameplay system
  • Tons of extra content
  • Characters are good
  • Many customization options for characters
  • Good graphics and soundtrack
  • Adjustable difficulty
  • Permanent death can be turned off

CONS

  • The plot is quite standard and some twists are somewhat unsurprising

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 

9.0 out of 10


Article from Gamersyndrome.com

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avatar Gamer since 1989, Japanese culture and gaming lover and former JRPG enthusiast, heavy metal musician. 24 hours a day are too little to balance gaming, studying, working and playing in band!