Fire Emblem: Awakening Review by: merfFire Emblem: Awakening
Hey all! I figured that there's no time like the present to write a review for FE: Awakening, so I decided to go for it. ;)
Originally released in Japan on April 19th, 2012, Awakening took nearly a year to localize in the USA and exactly a year to localize in Europe. However, it's been well worth the wait. FE: A is a new game, following up 2 remakes of early games in the series. It introduces a few new features, such as the "Dual" system and "Pair Up" system. These are designed to create strong bonds between your units, which benefit you in combat. The Dual System allows a adjacent friendly unit to fight alongside another of your units. The Pair Up system works similarly to the Rescue function from previous games, with the only major difference being that Pairing Up your units actually benefits the stats of the primary unit. In addition, Pairing Up causes the Dual System to be put into effect.
When Pairing Up, support bonds come into play as well. In Fire Emblem: Awakening, supports return to the game. If bonded enough, compatible Male and Female Units will marry, and a new level will load into the game in which you will obtain the future child of this pair. I won't say much more, cuz spoilers n stuffs. ;) Children characters can marry, but will not have kids of their own.
Another exciting feature to this game is the return of the explorable world map. These can previously be found in FE: Sacred Stones, and FE: Gaiden. You can return to the locations of previous battles to access shops found therein, and the Risen (will explain later) or Merchants may pop up here as well. In addition, this is where you will meet any enemy teams obtained via either spotpass or streetpass. Finally, you have access to the Outrealm Gate from here, which hosts all DLC you have bought.
Other features in this game include the return of a customizable and playable Avatar, Special Skills, the Barracks (where you may obtain items, listen in on conversations, etc), and spotpass teams from previous games in the series.
Alright, now that we've got the formalities out of the way, let's dive in!
Graphics - For the most part, I honestly can't complain here. There are a few places where I feel like the developers got lazy, such as the lack of feet on the characters, but the rest of the graphics are great. The developers really went into detail on the characters responses to their health, to attacks, and to getting healed. Rather than the sprites from previous games, Awakening features a fluid, smooth attacking system. It's not just a part of the game, it's a pleasure to watch. Therefore, I have rated this as high as 8. I would rate it higher, but the few obvious lazy points in development take away from the overall quality.
Sound - As in all FE games that I've played, the sound is exceptionally relevant. Perhaps it's not perfect, but it's quite relevant to the scenario in the game as well as pleasurable background music. I've found myself just letting the game sit open on my desk as I work, to be playing the music. Honestly, FE is the only series I've ever considered doing that, and Awakening doesn't disappoint. I don't feel comfortable with rating this a full 10, but I feel a 9 is quite accurate.
Addictiveness - Let's just say that I played this through 3 times in the first 2 months after getting it, and leave it at that. Sound good? No? Aw. :P In all seriousness, this game is very addicting. I played through it no less than 4 times before putting it down, but recently I decided to start playing some more and got addicted all over again. There isn't one specific element that I keep coming back for, it's the combination of all of the various pieces of the game. That's the sign of a great game, if you ask me. I rate this as low as an 8, simply because I actually was able to pry myself away from it (albeit after 4 playthroughs). If you plan to get this game, expect to spend a lot of time on it. lol!
Story - Ah yes, the story. If you simplify the plot a lot, to it's core, it carries the same basic plot as many other FE games. You start off with a Jagen (pre-promoted unit that you get at the beginning of the game) who becomes obsolete quickly, a major protagonist rises before very long into the story, and you spend a while fighting bands of this protagonists minions until finally facing the protagonist itself. If you back away from that over-simplified view, however, this game has a quite intricate story-line.
In essence, the Fell Dragon Grima calls forth soldiers (named 'Risen'), which I assume to be flesh-covered portions of Grima's power. These are teleported around the two continents to wreak havoc upon the world. Any run-of-the-mill FE game would run through the usual gameplan of recruiting units from various battles to fight alongside you. However, in Awakening, there is another way to recruit allies. During the story, we learn that 'Marth' (Chrom's future daughter, Lucina) has come from an alternate future to aid your team in fighting off the beasts that destroyed her world. Also, there are various other characters that come from this other world as well, and can be recruited through compatible character marriage.
With all this bonus additions to the generic plot-line, I definitely feel confident in giving this game a solid 8 in story. There are ways it could have been improved, but I was quite impressed overall.
Depth - Though this was partially answered under the 'Story' section, I'll run through a few more things here. As previously mentioned, Marriage is a part of the game (and results in playable Children Characters). This not only has good support conversations, but also builds the stats of paired characters. Each child has a unique backstory, which you get to read into a bit during this game, and the depth here kinda blows me away. In addition, each character has the depth and uniqueness that I've come to expect from FE. Lastly, even the DLC maps have sufficient depth to their stories. I'm definitely impressed, and this gets a rare 10 from me.
Difficulty - This definitely isn't the most difficult FE, and I've heard it called the easiest one yet. However, that completely depends on how you play the game, and on what difficulty you're on. I've found that Hard Mode is quite easy, and many of my characters are sufficiently strong enough to solo many chapters in the game. However, this is mainly due to one of the DLC maps that I bought. Quite simply, this game can be a challenge, if you want it to be. It can also be a casual way to pass the time though. Take your pick, and you'll enjoy it either way. 6 from me, though that's assuming that I wouldn't abuse the DLC map and is considering my FE skillz. ;)
Overall - While probably not my favorite FE game, Awakening definitely is a strong contender for the position. There isn't really just one part of the game that stood out, they meld together to form an amazing game. In my opinion, that's what you want from a game. You don't want to look back and say 'The graphics were great, but the music was meh', right? Awakening won't disappoint, and certainly didn't disappoint me after over a year of anticipation. Overall, a solid 9. You'll love it, just as I have.
Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear any feedback you may have, whether positive or negative!