Fire Emblem: Awakening Review – An army of new and old in your control

feawakeningFire Emblem: Awakening puts you in control of an army in the palm of your hands using the Nintendo 3DS. The lives of many rest on your abilities to think ahead and strategize against enemy kingdoms, rogues and the undead.

Fire Emblem: Awakening is a strategy RPG, and your role is that of a tactician who is in charge of a kingdom’s army. He has no memories, aside from his name and his abilities to lead an army into battle. If you have played any of the previous Fire Emblem games, you know what to expect. Again there will be plenty of resetting, or in some cases, reloading previous game saves. You’ll have to carefully decide which characters to level up, and you’ll also get a chance to find your favorite characters to use in battle. Characters you encounter during battle can also be recruited. If this is your first Fire Emblem game, Awakening is a great place to start thanks to a more intuitive style which includes different difficulties and two different modes of play. With the addition of features from previous games and some brand new ones, you can change the way you play the game.

The game offers three different difficulty modes: Normal, Hard, and Lunatic mode. There’s an unlockable mode once you have beaten Lunatic mode along with two modes of play. In Classic mode, when a character falls in battle, they are gone permanently. Preparing your team before the start of the battle and carefully planning your attacks and how characters move will be key to winning. If not you can always restart and load your last save point and try again. The other mode in this game is Casual mode, where if unfortunate things happen and an unit has died, you don’t have to reset the game and spent another 20 minutes to get back to where you were just at. You can save anytime in battle, which makes it easier not having to reset from the start of the battle.

Fire Emblem: Awakening gives you the ability to create your main character (aka tactician) from gender, looks, and voice. As soon as you finalize your character, you are placed in a battle. Right after your first in-game cut scene, you meet and join Chrom and his Shepards. Chrom is a man who thinks with his heart and just as much as his head. He quickly gets along with everyone. His sisters, who is a healer, travels with him. Soon after in the game, a mysterious man who calls himself Marth appears during the game, but is he an ally or enemy? During all this, the opposing kingdom schemes to retrieve the Legendary Fire Emblem.

A brand new feature introduced in Awakening is the ability to pair up characters so they can support each other in battle. As the relationship grows between characters, the number of combat bonus as well as the stats each bonus give rises. the relationship classification between characters are by a letter scale, it starts off at nothing, and as you pair up the characters together more, it grows to C then to B then to A, and then if the characters you are pairing up are of different gender, they can potentially get the S rank support status. After obtaining each rank for the characters, you as the player will have to manually go into the menu and activate a little scene between the characters for their relationship to grow. Every character can only get 1 S rank support, because by obtaining the S rank support you will see the characters confess their love for each character, and the game will then mark them as married to each other. there are two ways to increase closeness rank for the characters, the first way is to have them stand next to each other during battle, and the game will automatically prioritize the character with the highest closeness to support you, or you can use the new pair command in which case the two units you are pairing up is now being commanded as one single unit, and whatever they do they will raise closeness with each other and with any other friendly unit that interacts with them.

Much like previous Fire Emblem games, there are characters in this game where you would have to talk to during battle to recruit them into your party. Most of the times, they start off as enemy units, but some of them are ally green units who are not under your control untill you have spent the turn to talk to them. This game also utilize the street pass feature of the 3DS so that your friend’s team who they have decided to present is going to show on the map as someone you can battle. By defeating your friends, you can recruit their avatar into your party. This game also features bonus teams using the SpotPass feature of the 3DS so that you can summon characters from older games onto your world map and battle them or recruit them into your own party. Lastly there are a few DLC maps that is available on the eShop that offers characters like Roy and Marth for you to be able to fight and recruit, and with this many features incorporated into the game, Fire Emblem: Awakening contains one of the largest cast of characters in the history of fire emblem.

As far as the DLC maps are concerned,  the first map is free, Nintendo will be releasing more paid DLC down the line featuring more characters for the hardcore Fire Emblem fans. You are introduced to an old strange man who tells you about his stolen cards. These cards contain the essence of previous heroes who are being controlled. The owner of the cards can summon the hero’s spirit (Einherjars), allowing you to fight and recruit characters from previous Fire Emblems titles. You can summon them on the map, where you can fight, hire, or purchase items from them. By defeating them they join you, increasing the total roster you can have in the game. While they can be treated like a normal member, they can not interact with your team when it comes to relationships and conversations. The DLC isn’t cheap, since each map costs about $2.50 a piece. It doesn’t affect the main story, so it’s nice if you want to expand the game for a few bucks at a time.

Fire Emblem has always been a game that is a combination of skill, heavy thinking, team management and a good amount of luck. If you are playing on Normal or Hard mode using Classic mode, the game itself is a challenge. The enemies usually attack your weakest link, leaving you to hope your enemy will miss. Fans of the previous Fire Emblem titles will feel more at home knowing you need to plan and think accordingly when it comes to attacking enemies and anticipating how the enemy will attack.

The story can be pretty easy to dimsiss. There are a few moments that the game really shines, and usually that happens during the cutscenes. The game has a Japanese and English voice option which usually results around single lines and grunts. They get old pretty fast, except for the cut scenes where it’s usually fully voiced. Intelligent Systems has taken Fire Emblem a long way. The new additions might not seem huge, but they do make a huge difference in how some of the story goes. Also, this is one of the first game to take full advantage of the 3DS’s display capability, and many people have told me that this is one of the only games on their 3DS that they would not want to turn down or turn off the 3D effect just because how amazing this game looks. The addition of the new animated cutscenes and animation detail is amazing, and the relationship system does have an impact of the game. This is definitely a game I can’t put down.

Grade: A

Fire Emblem: Awakening
Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Developer: Intelligent Systems 
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: February 4, 2013
MSRP: $39.99

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Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.

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