May 242013

For those of you who are unaware, Fire Emblem: Awakening is the latest in a long line of games that started in 1990. I imagine that a fair few of the readers may be unfamiliar with the series because a large portion of the Fire Emblem games were never released outside of Japan and not everyone has played Super Smash Bros (Melee or Brawl). This unfamiliarity may make first-time gamers hesitant to give it a try but I recommend that you look past that and give this game a try.

Fire Emblem: Awakening is a tactical role-playing game. Gameplay consists of battles in which you move your units around the field of battle in turns to rout your enemy. Building up a strong army of powerful fighters and keeping them well equipped, but, it is more important that you pay attention to how you deploy them because once a fight between two or more units start you have no further way of affecting the outcome and must watch the confrontation resolve as it may.

When a unit fights another unit their position on the battlefield is very important to remember, if your unit is inside a fort it will offer certain advantages to a unit’s stats (as well as healing them once a turn). If a unit is standing next to another friendly unit when it engages in a fight that unit will aid it in the fight, either attacking the enemy as well or offering a stat boost. Such teamwork can be ensured by pairing two units together, this means that the two units will move as one and one will provide permanent backup to the other. I had a lot of fun experimenting with different combinations until I found two characters that worked very well together.

One of the most important gameplay features of the series is that when one of the character’s die in battle that death is permanent and they won’t return unless you reload your game save from before the battle in which they died. I can understand why more experienced gamers like this, as a feature it keeps you on your toes and it really adds weight to each encounter. However I am not a very experienced gamer in this field, which is why I am glad for the special mode in which this rule is disabled and any character that dies comes back to life at the end of the battle.

This is an important feature, its optional nature as a feature means that gamers who don’t want to use it don’t have to but it offers a way for beginners like me (I had never played a Fire Emblem game before) to get to grips with the various different classes, tactics and overall mechanics of the experience. My advise is that someone new to the series use this as practice, and if you find that you enjoy it and get more confident, why not give the “classic mode” a try?

This sentiment of encouraging beginners can also be found in the ability to have the CPU play your turn for you. I gave this a try and I can say this, it won’t let you win outright, but it will show you strategies and how your units best work so that you can figure out how to proceed if you aren’t quite sure of how to use your army. In one chapter I tried the auto-battle feature for the entire fight to see what would happen, they fought well but let the character they were meant to protect be attacked and killed.

Another feature worth mentioning is that if you find a battle dragging on you can speed up the action during fight’s or the opponents turn, in fact if you press start when it is a fight or not your turn you can skip having to watch those events completely.

In terms of graphics the game employs three main styles. In some cutscenes the graphics resemble an anime, in most cutscenes and fights between individual unit’s the graphics are simple 3D graphics, familiar to people who have played  DS Final Fantasy games, with anime cut-outs for narration and for the battles themselves the game uses sprites.

Each one of these presentation styles is used well for the purpose they are meant for. On the occasions that the game is being cinematic the anime graphics manage to achieve that affect, the 3D graphics used for the fighting and most cutscenes are clear, colourful and give you a good sense of the action. Finally the over world like view offered by the sprites is most effective when managing units. I do have one small complaint though, and it is indeed small. In the second set of graphics that I mentioned the characters have very odd feet,  I know that it is an odd thing to mention but watching the characters interact I couldn’t help but notice that it looked like they were standing on hooves.

The story is another worry that new players may face, after all this game isn’t just a sequel it is a sequel in a long line of sequels. As someone new to the series I didn’t find this to be a problem, the story made the motivations and characters very clear as the game progressed and I found that anything I didn’t know I was either informed of or was able to contextualize, for instance the first time the titular Fire Emblem popped up I knew nothing about it but was able to tell from the way that the characters were talking about it that it was an important object and that the bad guys really shouldn’t get a hold of it, I may not have known the exact details of its origin or nature but I knew enough to be getting on with and wasn’t deterred from playing on.

To conclude, Fire Emblem: Awakening  is a game well worth checking out.  There are reasons that people  already unfamiliar with the series might disregard that and I think
that they would be missing out


We received a review code for Fire Emblem: Awakening. All opinions are honest and of the minds of the staff.


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