Fire Emblem: Awakening – I know, I know. Late Review. -.-

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Howdy there! It’s been about five months since Intelligent Systems masterpiece was released here in the ‘States. Oh boy! What a landing it made! Without further ado, I bring to you my review of Fire Emblem Awakening for the Nintendo 3DS.

What better way to start this off by saying how anticipated this title was on my list of games to come out for 2013? I’ve been an avid fan of the series since about 1998 when I found a random Fire Emblem VHS at Suncoast in Memphis one day. I was quite overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness that Mars (Marth) spurted out with each graceful swing of Falchion and the way he took down foes. I bring him up because you can’t really know Fire Emblem without knowing a little bit about the history, right? Well, here’s a brief synopsis of what I know so far.

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It all started with Marth of Altea. He is a direct descendant of Anri. And if I’m not mistaken, Anri was the original guy who defeated the shadow dragon, Maedus. Anyways, Marth’s home kingdom was attacked and his father was slain in the battle against an evil priest. I forgot the name, but this is when things got juicy. His sister Ellis was kidnapped and this forced him to become an exile to the neighboring nation. With the help of a knight and company, he set off to find the legendary sword named Falchion and the Fire Emblem that would allow him to wield said Myth. Not only would this allow him to regain the kingdom of Altea back, but it would grant him the ability to rescue his sister and destroy the priest and shadow dragon.

I know that was a lot to stomach, but that’s the gist of the story thus far. Which brings me to the actual review of Awakening. The subtitle of the game means a lot to me, and I’m sure the meaning was deeper than it seems when the developers hit the nail on the head. If you can guess right, then I’ll tell you. Awakening means that the fell dragon has or will be returning to bring turmoil to the land and regain it as its home and rightful place of residing. This is where the main protagonist of the story comes in.

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Chrom is a direct descendant from Marth; hence, this is why you see him wielding Falchion in all its glory in the picture above. The game begins with him and his ‘delicate’ little sister, Lissa, checking up on a ‘dandelion’ lying in the middle of a field somewhere. After a brief intermission, you find out that the avatar you created from the beginning is that person they came to. The cliche clause of amnesia is immediately picked up, but I can guarantee you the twists and turns you go through will leave you wanting more after being introduced to it. You can’t remember your name until a few moments after learning that Chrom, Lissa, and the knightly Frederick were all ‘Sheperds’ of some kind.  This is the first scene you will encounter:

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After this heartwarming spectacle, something is afoot. The nearby village is attacked by Barbarians! With a little battling to get your feet wet, you’re on your way to slaying Grima, right? Once finding out about your ‘talents’ as a Tactician (one of the classes your character has access to), things seem to come easily as the gameplay is picking up slowly to teach you the basics. Later, you’re introduced to Sully and Virion after a horrendous turn of events shortly after the scene above. There are many others that you run into on your journey that you can recruit, but ultimately, your villain King Gangrel and his mistress Aversa are going to hinder your plans for peace and serenity. Upon completion of the first part of the story, you learn more about the events to unfold later for the fell dragon’s return. ‘Marth’ will join the fray and warn you about the coming future. Does Chrom and his new friends have what it takes to destroy the dragon? Numerous plot twists, betrayal, and reconciliation led to this point and now the moment of truth arrives. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say this: Be mindful of your choices and careful of your personality. It may play a devastating role later on!

Onto gameplay.

fire-emblemIt’s no different from your standard Fire Emblem title. For those that don’t know, it’s a turn-based, tactics title. The grid is like a chessboard, if you will. You’re limited to how many spaces you can move and you have certain ranges where your character can strike and defend. Of course, it’s really simple once you get the hang of it. My take is that if you’re new to the games and you want to get the story first, go for normal and casual choices for difficulty and what not. Because it does get harder in the later chapters and strategy WOULD BE ideal. The user interface can be complex or simple as well. Learning how to read the stats page, how much damage your character selected can do to the enemy and more is all pretty self-explanatory. I can tell you that even the most basic comprehension can get it! It’s a very user-friendly game and they don’t shy away with tutorials and explanations. You can choose to skip them if you’d like, but the best part is that it doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay. That’s what your second screen is for. The class and reclassing system has always been a favorite of mine for this series. There’s plenty of DLC to toss around and they even give you characters and items FREE! I mean, you can’t beat that. Sure, there are maps and paralogues you’d have to pay for, but they make up with the things they GIVE you. Also, who can mention Awakening without noting that your characters can interact with each other, get married, and potentially have kids that will make their presence known in the game later? No one? Well, you’re in for a trip down replayability avenue, then!

FireEmblemAwakening3See this? The battle system is in full 3D! The best part about it is that the 3D doesn’t hurt your eyes like most games on the platform does. It’s a smooth transition from grid to battle scenes as well. No loading or refreshment was needed. It also runs very smoothly and give you the ability to pause, shift camera angles, and control the battle view. From first person to third-person it still looks great. The only visual complain that I have is the models feet. No, I’m not a fetishist or anything, but I saw a meme and it had a big circle around one of the character’s feet with the caption “wtf?!” right next to it. I never noticed it until that meme. They could’ve done better with the modeling there; however, everything looks great. Visuals are very nice for a handheld game.

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The musical score gets overused in certain paralogues and battles, but I couldn’t help but squee for joy once I heard the preparation music from Path of Radiance, Sacred Stones, the original Fire Emblem, and the GBA Fire Emblem. It made me feel tingly and everything inside. Some of my favorite scores are the ones used on the villain maps. I mean, who could pass up the odd ambience of Chaos? The Divine Cree? The use of crescendos and epic uses of the fermata was genius. I’d love to hear a symphonic orchestra redo this album. I would feel complete. Here’s looking towards the new Super Smash Bros because rumors has it that Chrom is to replace Marth. I digress.

All in all, this game was satisfying and a  gratifying experience nontheless. The game could’ve done better with certain visuals and the limited score that the soundtrack had was a bit disappointing. Overall, I think the game was a glorified success and the rich story and bonds built between characters is the road to replayability. It’s pretty high because the characters can marry people, have children, and the support conversations are pretty hilarious with the lot of them. In my opinion, RL give this our “Fan Freaking Tastic” seal of awesomeness and be sure to look out for more in-depth reviews like this soon. As always, keep it real with us as we keep it real with you. Be on the lookout for more Fire Emblem goodness like that crossover with Shin Megami!

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