Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Fire Emblem Masahiro Sakurai

Concept:

Set sometime in the distant future from the Original Fire Emblem game. Implement various ideas from old games, along with new ones, to provide a fresh and fun tactical experience.

Story:

With no big spoliers, I can say the story had me engaged. It may not be the best story ever, but I found it entertaining and I believe it had progressed well. For the most part, all tracks are covered. I only have one if not two points of concern in terms of loopholes. Besides that, your main characters are Chrom and your own avatar, the My Unit. In some sense, this is similar to the Fire Emblem emblem game for the Gameboy Advance, the difference is that you can actually use your character in combat.

If you want to take a break from the story, you can read what are called Support Conversations. Here, units talk to each other and reveal a little more about themselves. You get to learn about their background and sometimes their dreams. Other times, it’s just humorous to see what they do, even though it’s all text based.

Graphics:

Graphics are for me the weak point of this game. The landscapes are neat, and it is cool to be able to watch battles in 3D, especially in different perspectives. However, the avatars are not too polished, but at the same time, if you are like me, you play without the full battle animations. They are fine, but look a little bland in comparison to the Gamecube’s Path of Radiance. On the flipside, the drawings look great and the anime cutscenes are fantastic!

Good enough

Sound:

The game music was also pretty good. My only gripes on the sound was the voice acting. By this, I don’t mean that the voice acting was bad, in fact, I thought it was great. What I didn’t care for was the small sound clips for each part of the dialogue, as opposed to full voice acting. The voices, when given actual dialogue to speak was good, and I felt each voice matched the character. If you do tire of hearing the same clips over and over, you have the option of turning it off, or even switch to Japanese.

As I played through the game more to unlock the Support conversations, I noticed sometimes the wrong voice clips play for some scenes. For instance an enraged “Blood and Thunder” clip when the character is really being very meek and mouse-like sounds completely wrong. For the most part, these clips are appropriate. On a similar note, I mentioned how you can change the voices. This has a glitch where if you restart the game, but want Japanese voices, you have to go back to the extras menu and reactivate it, even if it’s “on.”

Presentation:

Map similar to Sacred Stones

I had just been playing Sacred Stones before getting this game, so the change in presentation took a little getting used to, but at the same time, I was glad in the end. The overworld map is convenient, like Sacred Stones. Unlike Sacred Stones, you get to shop at any location that is cleared and items vary. You can look at which items are being sold on the bottom screen (including if it’s on sale). The bottom screen also allows for brief summaries and overall map. In battle, it changes.

The touch screen permits you to look at various data fairly easily. It shows the stats of units and if you touch some parts, it offers a brief explanation of the stat or skill. For prebattles, the information is described on the top screen for what the results can be. You can switch to a more classic view, but I found this new style very useful after I understood it. In an actual fight, you can change from side view to first person camera, which is neat, but I never found myself using it much.

There are two different types of cutscenes used. The avatar based one, where you read the dialogue, and anime based one. I really enjoyed the latter. It makes me wish there was a Fire Emblem TV series and not just the two episodes that exist (which I enjoyed as well).

One little part that I’m glad the developers put in here was the ability to look through the script of the dialogue you are in, in case you missed something. All I needed to do was press the R button. It’s not much, but it is definitely something nice to have.

Gameplay:

When I first saw my brother play Path of Radiance a long time ago, I couldn’t imagine being able to play through at the pace he was. However, the games are not as complex as it might appear at first. Awakening does a fine job of telling you how to play without annoying veterans. The tutorials are little strategy notes that offer some explanation, but can easily be turned off or skipped. Of course, with some changes to the system, it’d be wise to take a quick look through the short explanations.

One of the most controversial things about this title is the addition of Casual Mode. In all other Fire Emblem games, when one of your units died, they were gone forever, prompting many chapter restarts. With Casual Mode, you don’t have to worry about if they die. I approve of this addition as it allows players to play as if their units will die, but also not worry if they do because the last opponent landed a critical blow with a 1% chance. However, if you feel “hardcore” then you can play Classic Mode in which they will die.

One thing to note is the absence of Arenas. Yes, I was a little sad, but this is useful because you don’t need to worry about losing a unit to the Arena after trying to earn money for 30 turns. Instead, if you want to earn extra experience, you can summon adversaries to the main map and fight them wherever you summoned them. If you are worrying about losing money, I always ended up with more to the point I never had to worry about equipment.

With plenty of these guys spawning on the map, you can forget about the arenas

With plenty of these battles spawning on the map, you can forget about the arenas

There’s another change that makes the battles take fewer turns than people are used to, and that is to Support. In the old games, to build support between capable units, you had to place them next to each other for so many turns. Intelligent Systems addressed this issue by allowing support to be built only when the units are involved in battle (are at least next to each other in combat). You may not know how many battles it takes to build support, but since there are only some many adversaries for each map, you don’t have to wait long before being able to check.

Another change done to the Support system is the Pair Up in combat. Units are able to assist each other when attacking/attacked. They block or deal an extra blow. The chances of any of the two happening is based off the Support level, but even units who don’t share support can help each other.

The last change that hinges on Support is Marriage. Generally, the marriage is only seen in the credits, but here it plays the role of providing new units. At first, I was curious how this would work, but as I played through the game, I saw it was pretty well done. It adds a little extra strategy as some units children’s skill and stats are based off the parents. For the most part, the children were better and helped provide some interesting conversations.

So many interesting conversations to unlock

The last major change is the Class Change. No longer are units confined to just one (or two) class changes. After leveling through the advance class, you can change a unit’s class into something completely different (or even back to just level 1). As a result, I could change My Unit from Grandmaster to Hero or even to Thief. This is useful for when you want to build the ultimate team with various skills that would have been unobtainable.

Hardware notes:

As I played through the game, I naturally went to using the D-pad instead of the Circle Pad. This is a game that I think helps prove that the Circle Pad is not an acceptable substitute for a joy stick as I didn’t like the feel in comparison with Path of Radiance on the Gamecube. There was some discomfort in having to reach the bottom of the system to use the D-pad, but I generally didn’t notice since I was thoroughly engaged in the game. I wish that I could have been able to use the touch screen for controlling units, but it’s not that important. The focus of this game was probably to be able to implement the 3D effect, even if people won’t use it.

Replayability:

Thanks to having multiple save files, I don’t feel any problem in starting a new game after beating it. In addition to different difficulty levels and style of play, I am interested to see how the support conversations look with a different avatar and marriages. Also, since the “tutorial” isn’t much of a hindrance, it’s pretty easy to start all over again without being annoyed.

One thing I did not discuss before was the bonus content. Through spotpass, you are given a few extra chapters and various teams you can battle. If you win, you can recruit the leader. There are characters from all of the Fire Emblem games. However, the 3D avatar for these characters are really just standard models. Some of the characters are close enough, like Marth, but there are a few obvious ones that aren’t good. For example, the Black Knight looks nothing like how he should. My other complaint about the bonus characters is there does not appear to be any way to remove them from your list of characters. I accidentally recruited a few people I did not want and now they just take up space and make it harder for me to find the characters I do want to use. On the other end, if your characters keep dying with permadeath, it’s easy to replace them.

Overall

While there are these little problems, this does not affect how much I love the game. The gameplay, story, and especially the bonus content gave me a lot to do while I worked to unlock support conversations. I’m also a fan of technically being able to use Roy in battle. The new additions to the gameplay, as well as refineries make this an enjoyable experience for newcomers and veterans alike.

For more information, check out the official website at http://www.fireemblemawakening.com/

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review
If this was the last Fire Emblem game ever, this is a worthy title to earn that. By taking the innovations from the past entries, this entry delivers Fire Emblem at its best and perfect for strategy RPG fans. It's also the game that holds the most playtime on my 3DS by far and it was all enjoyable.
Story9.5
Graphics9
Sound9
Gameplay10
Replayability10
Pros
  • Awesome Story, Characters, and Animation
  • Great Balance
  • Great Accessibility and Replay Value
Cons
  • Graphics not the series best
  • No Arena
10Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0
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About The Author

Feature Writer/Game Reviewer

Blogger in the IGN community and no longer for Always Nintendo. You can find him still blogging in the IGN community as FalconRise