Fire Emblem Fates - Pros and Cons
I've recently picked up my copy of Fire Emblem Birthright. As a long time fan of the series I could not wait to open this one up, especially having just beaten Awakening, I wanted my fix. I was stunned. There are a lot of things with this game that have impressed me. Alas, there are also a lot of things that have horribly disappointed me. Let's start with the good.
1) The game looks so much better than Awakening on so many levels. The character models are more detailed. The backgrounds in the close-up battles are actually based on where you're standing on the map so when you zoom in you still see the tree you're standing by or the beat up shack. And, alert Joss Whedon, the characters finally have feet.
2) The battle system seems to have been adjusted heavily since the last game. As much as I love the ability to pair up, it was super over powered with your cohort constantly blocking attacks and doubling your strike. It's dialed back a good deal without breaking it but also without making the game too easy. There's also plenty of new weaknesses and the like that come with the weapons.
3) The new classes are so much fun. Playing Birthright, I've encountered people throwing giant animals based on the signs of the Chinese Zodiac, people changing into weird dragons that look like deer, people riding on clacking wooden puppets. All sorts of new classes and I adore them.
4) The castle system. I'll admit, it's incredibly broken and, if you want to be competitive you really have to lay out your town so it's near impossible to navigate as opposed to making it look nice. Personally, I made my town look like a town I'd want to live in. Nice rows of shops, a little farm, things like that. Unfortunately, it also leaves my town with bonza security issues. But it's so much fun earning new things for your town and setting up shop.
5) In fact, all the customization in the game is fun. The weapon customization has fun new features. The castle, as I just said earlier, is incredibly fun. And they added a new thing where you can unlock accessories for your character. Does your samurai need a pink beret to complete her outfit? Guess what, crazypants, you're in luck.
Treat yourself by making your character look like a nightmare.
This part pains me a bit. I love the game so much and I'm having so much fun but there are clear, blatant flaws that need to be touched on.
1) First off, Fire Emblem, like I said, I love you but you need to stop selling me the other version. Almost every battle has me running into someone from the other side with my character going "oh, something must have happened to them in the last month." I get it, there's a story I'm not experiencing by just playing the one game. I'll get to it eventually. But this constant reminding makes me feel like I spent full price for a half game.
2) The baby story. I loved Fire Emblem Awakening's addition of babies and it made sense in the story. I loved it. But...dude...Fire Emblem Fates? Your story doesn't work for this. I won't spoil exactly how you suddenly have a teenage child the day after you hook up but it is, arguably, one of the most slipshod story elements I've ever encountered in a game and I've played X-Blades.
3) And the ladies. Oh my goodness. There is a very simple recipe for women in Fire Emblems Fates. Half naked sexpots, the "little sister" archetype, a woman who constantly berates herself, and just a little dash of Xena-like warriors that, through relationships, secretly want to be wined and dined by the right guy. It's embarrassing. I had my main character marry a character I thought would be interesting because I thought her character was strong willed and clever. When we got married she said something along the lines of "I'm so happy you want to be with me despite my many faults." Really? Ugh.
Even Charlotte seems uncomfortable in her own outfit.
4) The voice acting needs to be addressed too. This one is something I can label under, "maybe it's just me" but there isn't a single character in the game who's voice seems like it fits. If you told me that there was a problem at the last stage of game development and everyone's voice files got shuffled around I would absolutely believe you because no one sounds like what you expect. Imagine if Jenna-Louise Coleman approached you and then tried to talk to you in the voice of Roseanne Barr. It's that jarring.
5) The random challenge battles seem to have been messed up a bit. In Awakening, you'd find random challengers on your map and you could review their army, see if you wanted to challenge them, and then fight them for EXP. Now, you have to pay money to have a random area of a map "scouted" and then it just shows someone who's a CPU team captain and their level. It doesn't say how big an army, though. I've encountered a level 10 captain in a team of 8 and a level 7 captain with a team of 16. It feels a bit broke.
All in all, I'll still say I'm enjoying the game. It's definitely fun and interesting. The story is an amazing departure from the traditional Fire Emblem while still staying true to it's roots. And while its flaws are very odd and sometimes distracting, I've learned to look past them and hope you do too.