A game worth owning a Nintendo 3DS for.
By having not played a single game in the Fire Emblem franchise before and by, in fact, being more of a real-time strategy enthusiast, it’s of no coincidence that I was originally skeptical on the question of whether I’d end up enjoying Fire Emblem Awakening or not. Regardless, I was more than aware of what the game was all about and after being caught in the hype that surrounded the game, I couldn’t help but open up the eShop app, maneuver over to the “New Arrivals” section, take a dive, and day one the turn-based strategy game. To tip-off, this game is far from substandard and if you feel as if you’re about to hear what you expect to hear about the game content-wise, let me be the first to tell you that those trailers you spent time watching tell you merely a sixth of what the game actually has to offer. So buckle your seat-belt because you\’re about to get overwhelmed.
What is this game trying to be?
Intelligent Systems displays Fire Emblem Awakening as turn-based strategy game where you guide an army of soldiers through a series of epic battles. Along the way, you will develop relationships with your team and use their abilities to prevail and advance the story. The story features a robust cast of characters from a variety of nations and backgrounds. They can be joined by your user-created character, who can be crafted in your vision.
That not being all, the game is designed in such a way that you can decide the type of path your team takes to victory by way of your own strategy tactics. Teamwork is necessary and rewarded with improved relationships with your team members. You can in fact go “all the way” with some of your team members should you so choose to. This all sounds pretty great and interesting, but it is what they do not inform you that could seal the deal.
What did this game actually turn out to be?
Without spoiling the game and still being a turn-based strategy tactical RPG where one gets to direct an intimate pack of soldiers through a score of ambitiously impressive crusades, Fire Emblem Awakening is quite simply the best strategy RPG game you will find on any handheld device. Heck, why stop there? This game manages to reign first place in both genres on the 3DS and rightfully so. You get to customize your character and begin your journey traveling across a vast gridded world fighting for not only the continuation of humanity, but for your own customized character’s sanity with maybe the hopes of impressing your future wife (and kid!) What starts out as a pleasant beginning with you and your clueless character quickly turns into greatest, longest, most life-changing battles of all time for your character. The game introduces four difficulty levels to choose from (Normal, Hard, Lunatic, and Lunatic Plus) which compliment the two play styles, Casual (Save anytime and keep your fallen comrades) and Classic (Every decision counts). The causal style gameplay helps to introduce newcomers, like myself, into the world of Fire Emblem so that you may feel comfortable enough to try the Classic mode. While the battle textures could use a little work, the 3D graphics and beautiful artwork do an excellent job of immersing you into the world with every battle and every cut-scene. The cut-scenes are done so well, you will find yourself in constant anticipation for more of them. The godly choice of music does an excellent job of setting the tone and magnitude of the situation through every step of the way and the stellar voice acting makes sure you leave the game knowing how describe your teammates personalities in detail.
All is not perfect though in the world of Ylisse. Certain battle sequences in this game almost feel poorly optimized in that you’ll experience noticeable framerate drops and abnormal struggles between you and the enemies. Because of this, one may find themselves apathetic in watching what was initially an exciting battle sequence and alternatively speeding through the sequences. Additionally, with so many unique ways to develop the story, one would have hoped that the developers would add more files. Since I’m almost sure I can’t have more than a single wife in the game (and wouldn’t want more than one either way) and with only 3 files to choose from, I’ll never be able to fully experience the game in my own way without making a regretful file deletion. However, I guess the file limit would help to teach someone how to make the best the decisions the first time around, but that lesson is not necessarily lost with the allowance of extra files. These disappointing game elements are certainly not game breaking, nevertheless they certainly detract from the formerly exhilarating experience.
What they don’t tell you
The world of Ylisse is an addicting world you will not want to come out of and only gets bigger with the activation of SpotPass and wireless communication.
In addition to the prologue, you have the paralogue (No wireless communication needed) which features optional side quests and bonus characters to recruit. The paralogue develops as you full build relationships with opposite genders. Also included are new maps, characters, weapons and others items distributed in the form of DLC (Some free for a limited time and some paid). Checking the wireless section of the game weekly can reward you with new items and teams to battle and you can count on more planned DLC in the weeks and months to come. So in your mind, you do not want to leave, but in Nintendo’s mind, they will not let you leave (Everybody wins!).
Checkout Counter: Buy it or Skip it?
Ultimately, purchasing Fire Emblem Awakening, and on release at that, was one of the finest gaming decisions I’ve made as it truly helps to justify my purchase of Nintendo’s latest handheld and those who haven’t purchased their 3DS as of yet have the potential to make an even better gaming decision. Long time strategy gamers will be pleased and newcomers should find themselves pleasantly surprised. Moreover, even as the well-built tactical gameplay and the stunningly diverse visuals and godly music assist in giving the game its footing, the performance issues and lack of files within the game quickly allow the game to fall off balance. Whereas those “mixed in approval” game essentials still exist, the true heart of the game lies within the character bonds you fabricate and your desire to preserve their lives along the perilous journey. Given all this as fact, it would really be inopportune for anyone to deny themselves this intimate and unbelievable game experience, but still somewhat roughly comprehensible if it ever came down to it.
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