Fire Emblem Awakening: Review

fire-emblem-awakening-chrom-vs-mysterious-marth

Resetting over and over again has never been so worth it.

This new and worthy addition to the Fire Emblem family puts you through a wonderful story with beautiful cut scenes, memorable and “real” characters, and an intense gameplay style.

When I first pre-ordered this game, I was simply looking forward to having a JRPG on the 3ds, I had hardly even played a Fire Emblem game before. At around the 35 hour mark when I had finally finished, I sat back, and started the game again on a higher difficulty. For this review, the sections are as follows: Story, Characters, Game-play, and Sound/Visuals.

Story: this is one of those rare portable games that has a story, and although it doesn’t really grip you until about half way through, it’s a truly engaging story. You follow Chrom, head of the Shepards on your adventure to eradicate the “risen” from Ylisse. Because a review isn’t meant to spoil the story, that’s the just of the beginning. The story in this game is accompanied by a wide array of support dialogue from all of the characters, who can essentially all die in classic mode, and by tons of DLC, Spotpass maps, and random encounters to keep that game clock ticking.

Characters: First of all, too many to count. Best part is, they are all unique, customizable in some way, and can marry (opposite sex); some will even have kids.  Characters can also die permanently in classic mode, every one of them besides Chrom and Your avatar (game over if either of these two die), making you reset again and again on harder difficulties, given you don’t want to lose anybody.  Each character has unique dialogue both through story sequences, and through support dialogue which can be unlocked through pairing during battles, which ill touch on later. You truly feel an attachment to these characters as time goes on, and on my second run-through, collecting (and keeping) all characters is essential.

Game-play: This is a strategy RPG, meaning that you essentially have a tiled map, on which you move your characters to figure out the best approach to not only kill your enemies, but also protect yourself.  Each character has a certain move radius, and a single press of a button will reveal to you the area accessible by enemies, which really plays a role in deciding where to place your weaker units on the grid. Certain units do have weaknesses, and of course the usual weapon triangle still applies in this game, with swords beating axes, which beat lances, which beat swords. (note that beat actually just means a higher chance of hitting) Also note that the usual ability to not only scope out the enemies full inventory before choosing to fight them (or avoid them) is there, but you can also check both parties chances of hitting, the damage they will do, and the chance of critical damage, making for long thought processes when it comes to selecting battle participants.

Magic in this game, as well as archery is crucial, and hard to train up early on. The lone archer you receive is weak to begin with, but if you do not train him up early, the later levels with all the flying units may be very difficult. Both types of ranged attacks are essential to winning, especially as you progress. There are 3 elements: Fire, Thunder, and Wind. With certain dark magic classes, select dark magic is also available, making for a fun variety of spells.

All units gain experience by defeating an enemy, the higher level the enemy in comparison to you, the more experience, however lower level enemies give much less experience, which makes sense. Once your unit reaches level 10 at least, you can either promote that unit to an advanced  class, or re-class them, making for tons of options as far as rounding out the team. Thankfully, in this game you can re-class your character infinite times, which means that even after hitting the level 20 or 30 cap depending on the character, you can still keep training them up.

In this game the support system has been introduced, which is when you pair up two units on the battlefield. This pairing gives attribute bonuses to both units, with an added chance that the “hidden” character will either attack when the “revealed” one hits, or defend the character from an enemy. As you continue to pair two units together, they will build support levels, starting at C and ending at A, unless they can marry the other character, at which point it will be an S. As the letter gets better, your chances of getting dual attacking or defending improve, so units with an “S” rating will often attack together in comparison to two units with a “C” rating when paired.

The mass amount of DLC, and Extra content via spotpass in the game really give lots of replay value, never allowing you to be bored with your current characters. You can even “hire” your old avatar, which makes starting over much less painful because your character will be available again.

Sound/Visuals: The sound in this game is beautiful. Whether your listening to the catchy theme throughout, engaging battle music, or that tune you get upon character death, it makes for a wonderful experience for the ears. The music really stirs up emotion in the final chapters of the game, and the final battle music was the best I’d heard in a long time, especially on the 3ds. Although the game does not have a Japanese track, it doesn’t really need one, as the voices are done very well in this game. However most of the characters dialogue is written, or the first word is spoken of every sentence, but that’s just fine.

The 3d in this game justified owning a 3ds. The popping out style of the regular game-play was simply incredible, not to mention the beautifully done cut scenes. If you do not own the game, just watch the opening, and you will know exactly what I mean. This type of stunning visual is way too hard to put into words, it simply deserves to be watched, and absorbed.

Verdict: This game makes me incredibly happy to own a 3ds. The stunning visuals; intense, emotional game-play  and beautiful music had me playing it non-stop for weeks, and will always be etched in my memory as a classic. A solid 9.5/10.

What did you think of the game? Or my review? Let me know!

Thank you so much if you read all of this,

James.

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