A review by Greg Dabkey
Game – Fire Emblem: Awakening
Version – 3DS eShop download
ESRB Rating: ‘T ’ – Teen
Release Date: 2/4/2013
Obtained – Review copy courtesy of Nintendo
Fire Emblem is one of those series that is not as popular as other Nintendo franchises. This is a turn-base strategy RPG game which allows players to plan their strategy against an army of ‘bad guys’ to put it easily. Will this game have a bright future, or will it fail to keep you awake? Read on for our review!
This story begins with Chrom and your character working together to defeat an evil mage. After the battle, your character is awakened by Chrom in a different location and both characters seem to have no memory of what happened. After your character proves himself (or herself) in battle, Chrom lets you join their group. They continue on travelling and battling bandits. You then come across the country of Ylisse and learn that Chrom is a prince. Also, along the way they meet the ‘Risen’ or zombie warriors that are now plaguing the area. They meet a character that is named Marth and they manage to save Chrom’s party. I don’t want to spoil a whole of the story, but it continues on as Chrom builds up his allies and they run into new classes of characters within each level.
Overall, I am completely immersed with the story and really want to find out more about Marth and the Risen and what happened to Chrom and my created character at the beginning of the game. The story will not disappoint as there are plenty of cut-scenes and action going on that each level brings in a new element into the story whether it is a plot twist or introducing new characters. If you want a very thorough RPG game, then this is the game for you.
You start off by creating your own character and avatar and type of strength. After all of that, you enter a sample battle with Chrom, one of the main characters, and get a feel for the combat. Basically the battlefield is a grid with walls, trees and obstacles to go around. Each character has a limited range of moment and with each turn you are either moving them forward or attacking enemy units or healing one of your own units. The object is to defeat all enemies on the grid. After each turn, the enemy gets a chance to act and move their units or attack yours. So part of the strategy is making sure your units are well protected, and have enough health to take a few hits. After a battle, cut scenes are shown and the player returns to the map. A new path opens up at this point and sometimes alternate side missions appear as well. The map serves as a level select as some previous levels sometimes have stronger enemies that have reappeared on the map.
New abilities to Awakening include the ability to fight side by side, and pairing which increase the characters relationship between the two units. Fighting side by side is arranged by having two different units standing next to each other. Occasionally the extra unit will get an attack or help protect the one fighting, but before your unit strikes it shows the bonuses received from the neighboring unit. This will help deal more damage or allow the fighting character an extra attack. Other bonuses include additional speed, luck or defense to name a few. With pairing, you have two units sharing a single grid space where one unit is invulnerable. This still allows the bonuses to show and the relationship to improve, but it also makes sure one unit cannot get attacked. When units continually fight side by side their relationship improves which can lead to higher bonuses and ultimately concluding with a marriage. This then can create a new unit to fight with you based on the two character’s marriage.
Also in between levels, you can purchase new weapons or items, or listen on your character’s relationship building conversations. After two characters have fought together for a short while their relationship with each other builds, and by accessing the listen menu it levels up the relationship. Also, you can enter the barracks to see other chatter and events, which sometimes also strengthens the relationship further. Other times you may find items or a particular character will find free experience points. Each weapon has a limited amount of use, so when level is lowered to zero, the item breaks. Finally, if you are new to the series, there are plenty of tutorials that help explain all of this.
This game really has it all, from the moment you begin to the moment you continue playing all the way to the end, this game has many custom features. The only ones you cannot modify is the difficulty and play style. At the beginning you can pick normal, hard or lunatic difficulty setting, followed by the style that has either classic or casual. The style is an additional difficulty setting where if your own units are defeated that they remain dead, or that they are revived at the end of each battle. For my play through I picked normal and the classic mode where units remain dead once defeated since I wanted to add some additional challenge. Other options to customize include the voice acting, which allows you to hear it in Japanese if you happen to know Japanese.
This game also includes DLC (after you beat level 5) and maps will be made to purchase. It appears it is following New Super Mario Brothers 2 pricing model as the first map is $2.50. After you beat the map, the captain agrees to join your squad. The first map has Marth from the original game, and also in the battle is Ike and a few other familiar faces. Unfortunately only Marth will join and there is plenty of humorous dialogue when you put Chrom next these neutral units. Only one map is available thus far, and there is a promotion going on that it will be free for a month. Each additional map will add a single character to your team to use while you continue your adventure.
I found that the controls seem to be very appropriate for this game. During the tutorials the controls are explained and they are very simple. Basically you just need to know that the circle pad/D-pad moves the cursor or party from one location to the next, B cancels an action before it is accepted and A confirms it. The touch screen is not used during the game for the most part in turns of controls. There really is not much else to discuss, since a lot of it is on the battlefield, and you selecting the action that you want your character to perform.
Graphically, this game is gorgeous! This is the most beautiful 3DS game I have played on the 3DS. All characters, backgrounds and cut-scenes are very well done. In addition, this game managed to pass Super Mario 3D Land for 3D graphics as well. You get an excellent sense of depth and you can really see the space around the characters. If having the 3D on didn’t drain the battery so much I’d keep it on for the entire game, which is the first time a 3DS game has made me feel this way since Super Mario 3D Land launched in 2011. While not required like Mario to complete particular parts of the game, this element really adds a lot to the cut scenes. My personal favorite is the battle cut scene since you can really feel like your characters are accurately striking their opponents and looks incredibly realistic. If you want impressive graphics or 3D effects, then this game should definitely make your list.
The music and sound effects in this game are also very impressive. The characters have limited voice acting in this game where they may say a few words. I was not bothered by it as it is nice to see what the character has been saying with the provided text box. I can see where this may detract from the game, but with how deep the story is and the characters are to me this goes by more unnoticed. The battle music and sound effects are superb, and background music definitely adds tension to the battle. The sound effect for the turn switching is a nice touch, and I also like the nice effect of movements of units with the battle initiation sound effect.
Final Score: 10 out of 10
I do try to not give out perfect scores when I can, but I could not think of a reason why someone would dislike this game. It has settings to make sure the difficulty is reasonable along with the fail safe setting where your characters do not die. The graphics are absolutely beautiful and has a strong musical soundtrack. With DLC, completely fun gameplay, and an immersive story, this game should not disappoint anyone. If you like the series or even if you never played the prior games, this game is a must have for those that love a compelling story and turn-based combat. I would recommend this game to anyone that is a fan of RPGs, turn based combat, or strategy games. Unless you have something against the genre, you will likely enjoy this game!