Reviews: Fire Emblem Awakening
FE Grows its Beard
Fire Emblem has always lived in the shadow of its younger sibling, the Advance Wars series. The pick-up-and-play style of Intelligent Systems other strategy series has always been more appealing to the masses than the hardcore character killing style of Fire Emblem. That has changed with Fire Emblem Awakening. The battle mechanics are mostly the same-in a couple of cases they have been needlessly dumbed down, but there are two ways in which Awakening has improved over its predecessors. Story and characters. Though there is now an option to play with permadeath turned off for the casual player, the story and the characters justify the existence of the permadeath mechanic more than any game previous released in the west. The story has been criticized for being clichéd, and to an extent it is. But it makes better use of many of those clichés, especially the usually tired 'power of friendship' cliché, than I have ever seen. There are three moments in the game that pack an astonishingly strong emotional punch, and they are well spaced. But Awakening's greatest triumph is in its support system. Forgetting about the marriage mechanic, it allows the player to get to know the characters to an extent that even Bioware games do not match. So many characters can have 3-4 conversations with so many other characters, and each relationship reveals something different about the characters. Getting to know the characters so well makes it all the more devastating when they fall in battle. I never reset when a character fell in the earlier Fire Emblem games, because there was always a unit that could take their role and I had not become attached to them. But in Awakening I finally did start resetting the game. It is because of these characters and their relationships that the clichés of the main story work as well as they do. The fantastic music also helps to set the story apart. It is a fantastic soundtrack even by Nintendo standards. Awakening is not perfect. As previously mentioned some of the mechanics, particularly with regards to magic, were needlessly dumbed down. And as great as the support system is, it has limits that can be improved upon. But even with those relatively small gripes, Fire Emblem Awakening is the best handheld SRPG ever made. It not only steps out of Advance Wars' shadow, but surpasses it.
One of the Best Handheld Games Ever
Let me start by saying that I am a bit of a newcomer to the series. FE Awakening is the third Fire Emblem game that I have played (having played through FE 7 and Sacred Stones on an emulator). That being said, Awakening is easily not only my favorite Nintendo game, but also one of my top 5 favorite games of all time. Story: Fire Emblem Awakening has a fantastic story. The first half of the game had my eyes glued to the screen the entire time, and left me wanting for more. My only complaint is with the second half of the story because of some pacing issues and slight repetitiveness. Overall it's worth an 8/10. Characters: Awakening has a rather large cast, but they honestly use that to their advantage. There are enough characters that it just adds to the replay value because you can go back and try the campaign with a completely different team. Of course, everyone has their favorites, and some characters that they hate, but that's part of what makes the cast so great. 10/10 Graphics and Sound: The character and environment designs are gorgeous. Each character design is unique and matches that character's personality to a t. My only gripe with the graphics is the lack of feet on the in- battle models and that the animation is a bit rigid at times. As for the soundtrack, it is one of the best game soundtracks I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Each track fits the situation perfectly, and, if the soundtrack was available on iTunes, I would happily purchase every song. In addition, it has very solid voice acting. Although, I should definitely give a special mention to the English dub, as it was very well done. Basically, imagine the standard for any recent Aniplex dub, and you've got the dub for Awakening. 9/10 for graphics. 10/10 for sound. Gameplay: The Fire Emblem series is easily one of the most enjoyable strategy franchises. Awakening takes mechanics from the previous titles and improves upon them for an immersive experience that makes you sweat every decision. The pairing mechanic not only adds a strategic element, but can also change the story, and makes you care for the characters just that much more. 9.5/10 Overall, Fire Emblem Awakening is a fantastic game that revitalized its franchise. I can, without a doubt, say that I will be replaying this game well into the future. 9.3/10 with a recommendation to buy immediately.
Waifu Simulator Awakening isn't that good.
The battles got repetitive after the first ten, due to the fact that each character pretty much feels exactly alike. One would think that a mage, an archer, and a knight would all be incredibly different, but in reality the only difference is their range and movement. Oh, and their attacks are all just equivalents of rock, paper, scissors. Remarkably, this game is somehow dumbed-down from the rest of Fire Emblem. The support system is nice, but it's also full of the cliche ridden folderol that one has come to expect from this series. Speaking of cliche ridden folderol, guess what the final boss is: an evil dragon-god-spirit. Oh joy, never had one of those in this series. The characters were cliche and often times poorly implemented. The most notable case being Tharja, a character (and I use that term loosely), who is only attracted to the protagonist, unless you decide to make her talk a bit with a male unit a few times, then she magically falls in love with them. It's even worse if you're female. She's still in love with you, but she gets the shaft whether you want the female avatar to love her or not. Funnily enough, the same people who complained about Tomodachi Life being anti-gay absolutely love this game for some reason. I could complain about the other characters, but that'd be pages of flaws to type out, and I'm lazy. Bottom line is; this game is playable and pretty. But a polished turd is still a turd. A mediocre game from a mediocre series.
A Personal Favorite
Fire Emblem: Awakening. Fire Emblem: FREAKING Awakening. From the moment I saw the title screen, I knew I was in for a ride. Story: 9/10 The plot twists are amazing. The way the story paced never seemed too slow or too fast. It was always a nice blend I enjoyed Gameplay: 9/10 The gameplay is basically the same as the other FE games (which I've yet to play) save for the Pairing system and the Child system. Pairing two units together makes them a double powerhouse on the battlefield with stat-buffs, Chain Attacks, and Dual Guarding. The child system I can't explain without spoilers. Other: 10/10 The soundtrack is without a dud. Every piece suits it's situation, like "I've never seen one fall so gracefully!" when either of the two protagonists die or during a Tear Jerker cutscene. The characters. Oh Naga, the characters! They range from Large Ham Owain to Tsundere Severa to Actually 300 Years Old Nowi to Gentle Giant Gregor and so many more! The Support conversations dwelve into their characters even more ways ranging to Heartwarming, Tear Jerker, Funny, Nightmare Fuel, and so much more! Overall, it's my favorite game of all time. Be sure to pick it up sometime!
A Fire Emblem veteran's opinion.
Fire Emblem Awakening is pretty much a celebration of the entire series. The mechanics are a "greatest hits" of past games: Gaiden's world map, Geneology's marriage system, FE 6's supports, Sacred Stones brancing promotions, and finally New Mystery's Avatar system, they're all back and better than ever. The Avatar though, is the real star of the game. They're probably the best example of a player-created character I've ever seen: generic enough to be relatable, while still having dialogue and an established role in the plot that makes them more interesting. (Unlike New Mystery's fairly-bland Avatar) They act as a way to immerse beginners into the world, while giving veterans a sort of "super unit" to play around with. There's a reason they're in Smash Bros. This game takes the FE 4 approach to characters: not having as many but given them all huge amounts of development. Unlike FE 4, every possible pairing has unique conversations, meaning no Crack Pairings here. This unfortunately results in a comparative lack of "platonic" supports though, which does hit a few characters hard. (Mainly the Spotpass ones) A problem I've found though, is that pretty much everyone has at least one character they outright hate out of the cast (yes, even me)... which, if anything, means the game succeded at being the most immersive FE yet. The plot is pretty much a Cliché Storm... but an intentional one. It's meant to be Troperiffic as applied to the Fire Emblem series, and Fire Emblem isn't really known for stellar plots anyway. There are a few twists here and there though. The biggest flaw I've found is in the difficulty. Being a veteran, I played Hard mode right off, and the first few chapters lived up to that name... but by the halfway point, my characters got so powerful every battle was a Foregone Victory, to the point I lost interest in the game. And the thing is, Lunatic is definately not my thing. New Mystery had a difficulty between Hard and Lunatic, which I think this game could have benefited from. There are also... some flaws in the localization. Most of it is top-notch, like with Gregor and Nowi, but some attempts to inject humor went horribly wrong, such as Chrom and Sumia's supports, which changed one Through His Stomach moment into a Running Gag about pies that reeked of Unfortunate Implications.
Fire Emblem is back, baby!!!
I will first admit I have never played any Fire Emblem games (maybe one, but I can't remember at this moment). So when I heard about Fire Emblem Awakening, I felt nothing towards it. Actually, it was during this time I was way more engrossed with the idea of owning Pokemon X and Y (I do, btw). However, when I finally decided to go pick up my 3DS, I needed to get some games. I ended up with getting three; Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Fire Emblem Awakening. When I started to play Awakening, I became consumed by the story and characters. I got to make my own character and control her as I ventured into this new world. Upon meeting the Shepherds, mystery begins to arise and I drive in deeper and deeper so I can learn more about what is to come. Let's talk about the good. For hard core gamers, this is a treat. Strategy is a must, and teamwork is completely necessary. Illusion of choice is prominent in dialogue, which fleshes out the characters. This is more of a Nintendo version of Mass Effect. For casual players, there is the option of making the game easier to play. Humor is properly handled, and the overall tone of the game is never truly lost. Replay-ability is high, as you can mix and match different teams together to create the deadliest army you ever saw. Also, romance for certain characters actually do play out, likewise with relationships. They do affect how the strengths of characters deal with enemies and attacks. Now for the bad. For casual players, this game can be a challenge. It's also hard to pick up again after not playing it for so long, but thankfully you can still find your place. It's also not too forgiving, so I recommend using bookmarks and battle saves as much as you can. Some of the romances and relationships seem a little off or sappy, but there are multiple options. Although some characters can't be paired up, and some make you feel very weird (young characters). Final verdict: buy this game. It is very good and a must play for teens and older. FE fans, your game is here.
Fun and Addictive!
I actually purchased a 3DS just to play this game, and I was not disappointed! Awakening includes just about every feature ever included in the Fire Emblem series, and adds even more. This game has everything, which makes sense since it was expected to be the last one. The battle animations are beautiful (once you're used to the characters not having feet). The characters, which I feel are the best part of the game, are all diverse, likable, usable, with surprising depth, and the generous amount of humor helps balance out the game's darker themes. With plenty of side quests, the option to grind, and hilarious DLC chapters, there's lots of room to level up and learn more about the interesting soldiers at your disposal. The story, while not perfect, still sets the stage for all of these great ideas to come together in a relatively smooth fashion. On the subject of story, it is rather weak. Some story arcs feel a bit rushed since this game includes three wars to fight, not to mention a time skip. The main story runs on quite a few cliches. You play as the just, but slightly naive hero fighting against an evil cult bent on destroying the world. The bad guys are evil just for the sake of evil, and some of the things they do are just plain boneheaded. Walhart was my favorite antagonist because he actually had a sensible purpose for all the evil he committed, making him formidable, yet sympathetic. Regardless, plenty of fun can be had in Awakening, if not from the story, then from the sheer OVERWHELMING amount of content jammed into this game. I'm currently doing my fifth playthrough, and I'm still having a blast! You'd be surprised how much some voice grunts during dialogue can add to the experience. This game is definitely one of the harder additions to the series, with taking advantage of the new Pair Up feature being almost completely necessary on harder difficulties. Luckily Casual mode was included to curve the challenge. This game certainly sets a new standard for the series, which I will anticipate in the new entries to come.
Once back into the frey!
I obtained this game for Christmas and I have not looked back since. This game has quickly became one of my favorites. Excellent writing and character interactions as well as a way of integrating some interesting ways of putting your own character into the story which influences many of the endings for the characters in the game. Whatever I say about this does not give it justice as while the game has a few flaws but it is not enough to hold it back from being a great game. it is an amazing pick for any strategy gamer and story lover. With a couple endings in total and some interesting twists and turns which could be surprising and not so much for those who can find and connect points together. It holds up just as well as the story of Lyn, Hector, and Marth as well as the stories of Ephraim the Restoration King and Erika all of which and more can be brought along on this adventure as DLC characters as well.
(Spoilers Included!) My Awakening to the Series
Strangely enough, as much as I loved playing as the Fire Emblem characters in Melee and Brawl, I never found interest in their games. That changed when one of my friends introduced the Disgaia series to me. I was not only enthralled by the action packed battles, but the intelligence and strategy needed to pass though the levels. When Fire Emblem Awakening was announced for North America, I took a look into it, drived by my love for the characters and genre. After I played the demo, the rest was history. Fire Emblem Awakening has a well structured plot with many clever twists. From the revealing of Lucina to the genius plan devised by the Avatar to best Grima, many of the predictions I made about the plot were thankfully wrong. I love all of the characters, minus a few (Stall seems a little generic). All of them have unique personalities to distinguish one from the other and I constantly find myself remember 80% of the characters' names and personalities. The presentation is also good. At first I was turned off by the fact that there are only 9 animated cutscenes, but the dialogue between the characters more then makes up for it. Heck, the voice grunts also improve the experience. I honestly felt Chrom's emotions when his sister fell, even though it was just through dialogue. The battle animations are good and some of the maps are outright gorgeous. Gameplay is as simple as moving your units by selecting them and moving them. However, by using the pairing, support, and twice attacking system, strategy takes a whole new turn. Besides going over the gameplay from previous games, it is mostly self explanatory. There are numerous items that you can obtain, but I find myself paranoid of breaking certain items like Ragnell. This also brings up DLC. The DLC is fantastic, and can easily increase your game time by 10-20 hours. From the Champions of Yore maps to the Challenge maps, there is a map for everyone. I especially love the Exponential Growth map, which can quickly make units like Lucina a beast. Overall, this is my favorite 3DS game. I have clocked in many hours onto one file and I look forward to replaying the game again and again. This is a game that every 3DS owner should own, no matter if you dislike the genre or not. This is the perfect strategy game for beginners of the genre, and even to veterans. This game is HARD!