Fire Emblem: Awakening Review
I bought a 3DS XL yesterday. $230 later, I was walking out of the store with my new best friend and its however-many-years protection plan--and Fire Emblem: Awakening.
Yeah, I'm late on the hype train for this one, too. I'm not usually interested in RPGs and JRPGs because my attention span is notoriously short. Maybe it has become more tolerant as I've aged, but I cannot put this game down.
Fire Emblem: Awakening plays like any other tactical RPG--nothing wrong with that. On the 3DS, the circle pad can be difficult to use as sometimes it's a little loosey-goosey, but otherwise the controls are smooth and seamless.
The bottom screen shows off tutorials, hints, stats, maps, and just about anything else you could ask for. I'm pleased with it. A+, Nintendo.
The combat is pretty enjoyable and easy enough, especially since you have the option to play in Classic or Casual mode (in Normal or Hard mode). Classical means perma-death--once a character dies, they're gone. Casual mode revives the lost characters after each battle is over. Be careful, though, you choose this option at the beginning of your game and cannot switch between the two.
Pro tip: Saving before each battle means you can restart the battle if you lose a character. Losing too many isn't great (I've lost three or four already), and can really hinder you later, so be careful. Starting a battle over if you lose a character is usually not a bad idea.
If either Chrom or your character dies, it's game over. You'll have to load from your last save point, so remember to always save often.
The plot is also fairly typical of a tactical JRPG: Chrom, the main character, is trying to save his home and ultimately the world from the evil forces of the fell dragon, Grima, and her followers. I haven't finished the game yet, but this is the gist of what's going on so far.
You journey on with Chrom and his Shepherds (your party), fighting Risen and Brigands, along with the villains who are trying to revive the power of Grima. Additional characters will help and hinder your progress, and you'll gain more party members along the way (though some require a conversation with Chrom before they'll join).
My favorite part of the plot? Maybe this is the girly-girl in me, but I am obsessed with the relationships. Ashley Shankle's perception of 'waifu simulator 2013' is accurate. If your character is female (like mine), Chrom can fall in love with her and marry her later on.
Note: Same sex relationships, while they would be awesome, would definitely throw a wrench in some of the stronger twists in the storyline--therefore it's understandable that they aren't an option in this game.
Any male/female pairings will have some sort of support relationship if you pair them up consistently in the chapters. As you progress through, their relationships improve through support conversations and talks in the Barracks.
However, relationships aren't just about fangirling when you get the romantic conversations going. Relationships provide really helpful stats during battle, like extra strength, hit, and luck. The stronger the relationship between the pair, the stronger the stats.
The style of both the game itself and the numerous cut scenes was also a personal favorite. The art in and of itself is beautifully done, and is consistent throughout. The models, once in action, look great as well.
Except you don't have feet.
I find this hilarious. Toshiyuki Kusakihara, the art director, explains that originally they were going to add some sort of deformation to the characters' feet, but never really got around to it. Thus, they just... don't have feet. It makes the models all the more lovable, in my opinion.
The soundtrack isn't anything to write home about, but it's decent. I'm not one who really pays too much attention to the music, so take my opinion here with a grain of salt.
- While some characters like Frederick and Libra start out insanely strong, others like Sumia and Virion start out like... well, like shit. Try and pair these people up with stronger guys, and wear an enemy down with the stronger of the two--then switch the leader of the pair right before killing the enemy so that the weaker character gets the killing blow, and therefore the bonus XP.
- Try not to switch classes before level 20 if you're using a Master Seal. You'll miss out on some important stat boosts. If you're switching base class, wait until around level 15 and use a Second Seal.
- While using stronger characters to get things done more quickly (like the Paralogues, where I usually blast through enemies with Frederick) is useful in some situations, levelling up your weaker characters is more beneficial in the long run.
- Landing on spaces with sparkles gives you the chance to gain extra XP, some sort of item, or an improved relationship. Try and save these spaces for weaker characters and pairs.
- Do the Paralogues as early as possible. Having the extra characters and experience will help you in the objectives.
Overall, I'm excited to finish this game and hope that it continues to hold my attention the way that it has. Creating a character is fun and easy, and even if you've never played a tactical RPG before, this one is a great entry in to the world of longer games.
I give it an 9/10 overall, which is damn near perfect in my eyes.
My pink 3DS XL isn't too shabby, either.