ILR – Fire Emblem Awakening

fireemblemawakeingbox Fire Emblem Awakening

Developer ntelligent Systems & Nintendo SPD

Publisher NintenIdo

Platforms Nintendo 3DS

Released: February 4, 2013

Verdict: A great tactical RPG for long time Fire Emblem fans and new comers all the same.

Score: 9/10

As it is with these Incredibly Late Reviews, Fire Emblem Awakening has been out for a while now. But that of course doesn’t mean you, the reader, have played it yet, and frankly shame on you for that! Let me be honest though, this was the first time I have actually ever played a Fire Emblem game. So I guess shame on me too! One of the biggest factors in keeping me away from this fan favorite series all these years, is the complexity of it all. All of the characters, and customization, and the ever present danger of losing your favorite character with a wrong choice. Yes that terror to all gamer that is permanent death is a big part of the Fire Emblem series. As much a part as a huge roster of playable characters, and epic stories. While these factors can, and have cause people, including myself, to avoid these games, they are in fact the greatest reasons to play them.

Fire Emblem Awakening is a huge game, with 49 total characters across 51 chapters (that you don’t have to download), all crammed into 30+ hours of game play. If you’ve ever played a Fire Emblem before you’ll know the style. It’s a grid-based, turn-based battle system, similar to past games in the series or Final Fantasy Tactics. You control a group of warriors known as the Shepherds lead by the Prince Chrom of Ylisse. Your entry point to the group is a character known as The Avatar, which as the name implies is your Avatar in this world. As the game begins you have a bit of customization you can do to him or her and you get to pick a name. Aside from Chrom and the Avatar you then get to fill up your battle teams with various other characters all with their own unique feels.

Boy that's a lot of characters

Boy that’s a lot of characters

The customization of the battle teams is the part of the game I most enjoyed, trying to decide what characters would be the most useful in a given battle, and deciding where they should start out on the map made a huge difference to how a battle went. Another huge part of this system are the relationships, characters become friends the more they battle next to each other, or are paired together. And some Male/Female pairs can even marry. This is a key element to the game if you want to get all of the characters, but more on that later. Pairing people up does more than make them friendly, they get bonus’ in battle, and will even double attack if you can’t take something down in one hit, or knock the enemy back before they can attack. Raising the relationship of two characters is as simple as putting them on the same square or adjacent squares while attacking an enemy. And if things work out correctly and both characters attack the enemy they both gain experience. This ends up being a double whammy for you, not only are you upping their relationship, but you’re getting dual experience for characters off one enemy.

Having a battle partner is key!

Having a battle partner is key!

We all know when it comes to RPG’s gaining experience and levels for all your characters is key to beating the game. Fire Emblem is no different from others in its’ genre, but you get a whole new level of customization with leveling. Characters all start out with a certain job class, as you level towards the cap of 20 you can eventually upgrade them to an advanced class with a special item. Then you get the chance to level them all the way to 20 again. This time though they’re already stronger and all the levels you gain just keeps moving them up. Of course once you hit 20 again you’re done, there isn’t any higher to go.
Well, luckily you don’t always have to go up to get better. Once you’ve caped out your advanced class you can switch to a completely different starting job. Say you have a Mercenary who you promoted to Hero, but now you have a level 20 hero who isn’t getting any better. Well why not switch them over to a Pegasus Knight then upgrade them to a Falcon Knight. Now you will lose some stats when switching like this, but not nearly as many as you earned or will continue to earn. It leaves you open to level up and train your character infinitely.

So far I’ve only really talked about the gameplay, but there is so much more to Fire Emblem Awakening than just an endless sea of battles. There’s an enormous story that spans generation and sets your band of characters on a mission across their world. As I mentioned before, the game starts with a group known as the Shepherds lead by Prince Chrom. They’re basically an elite group of peacekeepers for their kingdom. As the story goes on though, you gain so many more characters with various classes and specialities. Some are just part of the story, and others you have to meet certain requirements to achieve. One thing to always make sure of in a Fire Emblem game, if an Enemy has a unique name make the main Character interact with them. My first time through this (Yes I’ve gone through it multiple times) I missed a few characters because I didn’t know any better.

Talking can even make enemies friends!

Talking can even make enemies friends!

Another big part of this story is time travel, well of a sort anyway. Several of the characters you can get are from the future. Without giving too much away, you get these characters based on the relationships you forge between your group of present time characters. These groupings not only determine if you can get a certain future character, but also the states of those from the future. Your relationship building is going to bring out the biggest moments of the stories. There are some relationships that have grounds laid for them right from the get go, but you may decide to take characters in a different direction entirely. That’s the beauty of it, these things are totally up to you, and you can end up making your team the strongest characters possible because of that.

If you’re looking for a Final Fantasy like RPG than you probably don’t want to jump into Fire Emblem Awakening right away. This game is pretty linear in where and what you have to do, as you finish one mission the map unlocks the next one. Along the way you’ll have both main scenario missions and side missions known as Paralogues. That’s not to say that the only thing you can do is go straight through these missions. Part of the fun is going back and fighting on the cleared battlefields against new enemies. Testing out new strategies or just leveling up your characters and their relationships. My first playthrough clocked in at about 37 hours. My second, which I haven’t even finished completely yet is closing in on 50 hours with a ton left to do. This is the kind of game that can really thrive on the 3DS, and I hope to see future installments coming to the states.

Grouping your team can be useful too

Grouping your team can be useful too

Now that I’ve gotten done talking about the game it’s your turn to go out there and give it a shot. Then let us know your thoughts in our comments or on Facebook!

talks a bunch on PodQuest each week. He's also been known to write about stuff from time to time.

You can Email Chris or follow Chris on Twitter @Just_Cobb or Facebook

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