My thoughts on Fire Emblem: Awakening

Posted by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

Intro

I've never played a Fire Emblem game before playing Fire Emblem: Awakening(which we will now refer to as FEA for this review). So keep this in mind while I talk about my love for this game. That said, I do have some experience in the SRPG genre with games like Final Fantasy: Tactics and Tactics Ogre. Ultimately, FEA is a game for newcomers that haven't had a chance to play this franchise. It doesn't require prior story knowledge in order to fully appreciate. The game has a helpful tutorial that fills you in on most of the details that you have to know in order to succeed. The game doesn't hold your hand to much so veteran players can easily avoid it. It's a game that gracefully introduces players into it's world by having impressive production values. I haven't played a handheld game that has felt this content rich in a long time. I loved my time with FEA as it delivered nearly everything that it has to offer brilliantly. This game dominated most of my life for several weeks. I couldn't get a good night sleep as I kept playing for hours and hours. This is all due to a number of reasons that I'll address.

Story

The story isn't that important in FEA. It's a serviceable way in order to give you a reason to keep playing. That's not to say that the story is bad or anything. It's a tale of kingdoms at war and trying to make peace with one another. It's a also a bizarre story of time travel and trying to save the future from a grim end. The story that you should care about is the interactions between characters. It's easy to scrutinize the story if you view it overall. The time travel is never fully explained in the game and it seems to be an easy way to achieve the concept of your children joining your party. The dialogue between characters is well done and quite often hilarious. Kudos to the localization team at 8-4 for doing an exceptional job of making these characters come to life.

Character interactions are also key to this game beyond story cut scenes. A new system is introduced in FEA which is called the support system. You can pair up characters in order to deal more damage and get better stat bonuses. Doing this will also increase their social rank with you. Every support relationship starts off with C and can eventually lead to getting an S with a character that is the opposite sex from one another. Once you S rank with a character you'll automatically marry them which then creates a child for both of these characters. This child will have stat bonuses depending on the stats of their respective parents plus the skills that they acquired. They also get separate exclusive support interactions with one another. Pairing characters up and marrying them is key to fully enjoying this game. It truly expands the story of your characters and hopefully gives you a strong new party member.

Combat

That's a winning strategy from Donnel himself!

The gameplay is your typical SRPG with grids and percentages. There aren't any key additions to combat that are unique to the game. What it does add instead is a high level of polish that is rarely seen in these types of games. From the character portraits to the music it's all done in a way that impressed me. The combat itself is also different as it shows 3D polygonal combat whenever you attack an enemy. The game still has 2D sprites while on the map but once you enter combat you're treated to great looking action scenes each time. This added flare amplifies combat and improves the game overall. Other than that combat is mostly intact from previous Fire Emblem games.

In combat you have to worry about your weaknesses when facing certain enemies. For example, your winged rider should always avoid an archer or else they'll probably die. Once you die you're dead for good. This is the other aspect that makes combat thrilling. Most characters can die and not end the game so characters like Lissa can die and never factor into the story again. The tragic thing is that most people will probably at least one character in the game. This is the reality that you have to face when playing FEA. It's especially heart breaking if one of the characters that you've been relying on dies early on in the game. You still get a healthy batch of characters early on in the game so even if you lose a few you'll probably be fine. I lost several characters in my 30 hours of playing the game. I also went back and saved a couple that I simply couldn't let die. Gameplay in FEA is tense and exciting which is rare for the genre.

The End

Fire Emblem: Awakening is an incredible game that devoured my life for weeks. I throughly loved my time playing FEA as it truly impressed me with its production values. The art style has its own style that isn't your typical anime art style. The cut scenes are especially great looking and look even better with the 3D on. It all looks and sounds great in most aspects. The game also introduces new players well enough without being too long. As someone with no experience with the franchise the tutorial was a good way to help me. I could also develop my own play style and do most of what the game has to offer with ease. FEA doesn't revolutionize the genre but it accomplishes nearly everything with incredibly amounts of polish and brilliance that I love. It's a great reason to own a 3DS so I highly recommend that everyone checks it out. I'm hopefully for the future of the franchise as a new fan to the franchise. It'll be tough to see where this franchise goes from here but I'm sure that I'll continue to enjoy it for years to come.

Be sure to watch the video below as I talk about Fire Emblem: Awakening.

#1 Posted by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

Comment.

#2 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11413 posts) -

Nice to see you enjoyed it! The only thing I would comment on is that the support system is not new and has been in the series since the GBA games, though this one certainly puts a lot of emphasis on it since it meshes with the pair-up mechanic, which is new. Also, this is the part where I recommend you play all of the older games because of course I'd do that. Any of them are fine, though Shadow Dragon (the DS one) is pretty dry and you should only play Radiant Dawn (the Wii one) after you play Path of Radiance (the Gamecube one). And, once you're done with those, there's always the deep, dark depths of the Japan only releases, which I also recommend for assorted reasons.

#3 Edited by C2C (855 posts) -

I agree that the game is quite enjoyable. The biggest criticism I can leverage at Awakening is that it was not paced with EXP/Support grinding in mind. The later parts of the game were a breeze.

#4 Posted by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

Nice to see you enjoyed it! The only thing I would comment on is that the support system is not new and has been in the series since the GBA games, though this one certainly puts a lot of emphasis on it since it meshes with the pair-up mechanic, which is new. Also, this is the part where I recommend you play all of the older games because of course I'd do that. Any of them are fine, though Shadow Dragon (the DS one) is pretty dry and you should only play Radiant Dawn (the Wii one) after you play Path of Radiance (the Gamecube one). And, once you're done with those, there's always the deep, dark depths of the Japan only releases, which I also recommend for assorted reasons.

Thanks for the heads up! I've heard that the gamecube one is the best one of the bunch.

#5 Posted by Pessh (2452 posts) -

Nice writeup. So excited to play it but doesn't come out until April 19th here =(

#6 Posted by Hailinel (23659 posts) -

@phatmac said:

@arbitrarywater said:

Nice to see you enjoyed it! The only thing I would comment on is that the support system is not new and has been in the series since the GBA games, though this one certainly puts a lot of emphasis on it since it meshes with the pair-up mechanic, which is new. Also, this is the part where I recommend you play all of the older games because of course I'd do that. Any of them are fine, though Shadow Dragon (the DS one) is pretty dry and you should only play Radiant Dawn (the Wii one) after you play Path of Radiance (the Gamecube one). And, once you're done with those, there's always the deep, dark depths of the Japan only releases, which I also recommend for assorted reasons.

Thanks for the heads up! I've heard that the gamecube one is the best one of the bunch.

Tastes will vary, of course, but Path of Radiance is definitely among the best. It might be a bit jarring going to it from Awakening (no world map, for example, which changes the flow of the game dramatically), but it's still a mighty fine experience.

#7 Posted by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@phatmac said:

@arbitrarywater said:

Nice to see you enjoyed it! The only thing I would comment on is that the support system is not new and has been in the series since the GBA games, though this one certainly puts a lot of emphasis on it since it meshes with the pair-up mechanic, which is new. Also, this is the part where I recommend you play all of the older games because of course I'd do that. Any of them are fine, though Shadow Dragon (the DS one) is pretty dry and you should only play Radiant Dawn (the Wii one) after you play Path of Radiance (the Gamecube one). And, once you're done with those, there's always the deep, dark depths of the Japan only releases, which I also recommend for assorted reasons.

Thanks for the heads up! I've heard that the gamecube one is the best one of the bunch.

Tastes will vary, of course, but Path of Radiance is definitely among the best. It might be a bit jarring going to it from Awakening (no world map, for example, which changes the flow of the game dramatically), but it's still a mighty fine experience.

Sweet, I'll be sure to check it out eventually.

#8 Posted by StarvingGamer (7898 posts) -

@c2c said:

I agree that the game is quite enjoyable. The biggest criticism I can leverage at Awakening is that it was not paced with EXP/Support grinding in mind. The later parts of the game were a breeze.

Did you play the game on Hard?

Online
#9 Posted by Turambar (6631 posts) -

@phatmac said:

@arbitrarywater said:

Nice to see you enjoyed it! The only thing I would comment on is that the support system is not new and has been in the series since the GBA games, though this one certainly puts a lot of emphasis on it since it meshes with the pair-up mechanic, which is new. Also, this is the part where I recommend you play all of the older games because of course I'd do that. Any of them are fine, though Shadow Dragon (the DS one) is pretty dry and you should only play Radiant Dawn (the Wii one) after you play Path of Radiance (the Gamecube one). And, once you're done with those, there's always the deep, dark depths of the Japan only releases, which I also recommend for assorted reasons.

Thanks for the heads up! I've heard that the gamecube one is the best one of the bunch.

Brave fan-translations and play Fire Emblem 4 via an SNES emulator. That game is where the idea of marriage and children came from, along with many of the skills such as vantage and wrath, that you see in Awakening. Also, it is, as far as I can tell, the only Fire Emblem game to allow weapons be repaired simply by paying some gold, making Sigurd's early access to a silver sword quite a game breaker.

#10 Edited by Turambar (6631 posts) -

@c2c said:

I agree that the game is quite enjoyable. The biggest criticism I can leverage at Awakening is that it was not paced with EXP/Support grinding in mind. The later parts of the game were a breeze.

Did you play the game on Hard?

Not even hard fixes the issue as the rather modest amount of grinding I did so as to have children inherit lv 15 skills from their parents resulted in me ohkoing the final boss with a brave lance. Of course, lunatic is just Not Fun (tm) for the first couple of stages.

#11 Edited by StarvingGamer (7898 posts) -

@turambar said:

@starvinggamer said:

@c2c said:

I agree that the game is quite enjoyable. The biggest criticism I can leverage at Awakening is that it was not paced with EXP/Support grinding in mind. The later parts of the game were a breeze.

Did you play the game on Hard?

Not even hard fixes the issue as the rather modest amount of grinding I did so as to have children inherit lv 15 skills from their parents resulted in me ohkoing the final boss with a brave lance. Of course, lunatic is just Not Fun (tm) for the first couple of stages.

I thought I was grinding a lot but I guess not. I completed most of the Children Paralogues with my guys somewhere between levels 6-10 in their promoted classes, and I promoted everyone at level 10.

Online
#12 Posted by Turambar (6631 posts) -

@turambar said:

@starvinggamer said:

@c2c said:

I agree that the game is quite enjoyable. The biggest criticism I can leverage at Awakening is that it was not paced with EXP/Support grinding in mind. The later parts of the game were a breeze.

Did you play the game on Hard?

Not even hard fixes the issue as the rather modest amount of grinding I did so as to have children inherit lv 15 skills from their parents resulted in me ohkoing the final boss with a brave lance. Of course, lunatic is just Not Fun (tm) for the first couple of stages.

I thought I was grinding a lot but I guess not. I completed most of the Children Paralogues with my guys somewhere between levels 6-10 in their promoted classes, and I promoted everyone at level 10.

While people have said that promoting at 10 is the quickest way to the lv 15 skills, the huge deficit in exp makes the amount of exp you lose out on quite significant. Considering the parent's stats affect the base stats that a child come at, it's quite important to consider as well. Having my Morgan show up with already maxed Str was quite hilarious.

#13 Posted by StarvingGamer (7898 posts) -

@turambar said:

While people have said that promoting at 10 is the quickest way to the lv 15 skills, the huge deficit in exp makes the amount of exp you lose out on quite significant. Considering the parent's stats affect the base stats that a child come at, it's quite important to consider as well. Having my Morgan show up with already maxed Str was quite hilarious.

Yeah, the first kid I recruited was Kjelle. I should have realized something was up when she was dying on turn two before I had any chance of reaching her unless I either A) got really lucky or B) restarted the mission over and over until the three archers in the room with her had their stats randomized in exactly the right way. Now I'm of the opinion that the ideal leveling strategy is Secondary Seal from 1-10 through all three of your characters' unpromoted classes first, then promote and Secondary Seal from 1-15 through the promoted classes. I ended up playing missions 19 - the end with my entire army crippled stat-wise because they were all back in unpromoted classes with significantly lower caps, which was an interesting but not exactly fun challenge.

Online
#14 Posted by Turambar (6631 posts) -

@starvinggamer: It certainly depends on how lucky/unlucky you get on stat gains. Most characters do have rather decent stat gains in this game compared to Shadow Dragon (with the MU ironically being one of the weaker ones), and second sealing at 20, and getting to 10 for one other prepromoted class before entering promotion is almost always enough to land you with high 30s stats by the time you hit your lv 15 stat.

Fun fact, the stat caps are hilariously high in this game compared to shadow dragon, where stat caps for promoted classes are lower than the prepromoted ones for Awakening. Going Wyvern Knight? Hope you're happy with just 28 str. Playing on hard or lunatic? Hope you're not using slower classes as they are guaranteed to be doubled by enemies in end game.

#15 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11413 posts) -

@turambar said:

@starvinggamer said:

@c2c said:

I agree that the game is quite enjoyable. The biggest criticism I can leverage at Awakening is that it was not paced with EXP/Support grinding in mind. The later parts of the game were a breeze.

Did you play the game on Hard?

Not even hard fixes the issue as the rather modest amount of grinding I did so as to have children inherit lv 15 skills from their parents resulted in me ohkoing the final boss with a brave lance. Of course, lunatic is just Not Fun (tm) for the first couple of stages.

I just attempted to play on Lunatic today... and promptly quit on Chapter 1. Frederick is the only character that can do anything but then there's that lone enemy with a hammer. Needless to say, I don't think I will be trying it again anytime soon.

#16 Edited by Turambar (6631 posts) -

@arbitrarywater: The first few stages of Lunatic involves a whole lot of what can be called Frederick Feeding, with rather strategic plans made in terms of item management since there is no base screen to swap around items, that allows him to weaken, but not kill enemies, letting your other characters gain some exp and levels. By about 6 or 7 stages in, your other guys start being able to take or avoid hits with some degree of regularity. Being able to grind a bit via spot pass is also a god send.

Though due to how it opens up, its definitely a difficulty I'd play in casual mode if I had to approach it again. That or max out renown, get the final reward which sells for max gold, and go about forging all my weapons to maximum might as renown carries over from a cleared game file.

#17 Edited by C2C (855 posts) -

@c2c said:

I agree that the game is quite enjoyable. The biggest criticism I can leverage at Awakening is that it was not paced with EXP/Support grinding in mind. The later parts of the game were a breeze.

Did you play the game on Hard?

I am doing that right now on my second playthrough. It doesn't seem to fix the pacing problem, even if I am keeping away from DLC maps so far. The combination of the character supports, abilities, and stats snowball with levels really heavily even on hard. Hard mode tries to remedy this by giving the enemies better items earlier on, but after a certain point your units will reach parity with the enemies eventually.

Again though, it's a fairly minor critique as a player can choose to limit the grinding to balance out the difficulty on a second playthrough (As I am doing). I just wish the game scaled with the units I have in some way.

#18 Posted by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

@pessh said:

Nice writeup. So excited to play it but doesn't come out until April 19th here =(

Bummer. :(

#19 Edited by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

@turambar said:

@starvinggamer said:

@turambar said:

@starvinggamer said:

@c2c said:

I agree that the game is quite enjoyable. The biggest criticism I can leverage at Awakening is that it was not paced with EXP/Support grinding in mind. The later parts of the game were a breeze.

Did you play the game on Hard?

Not even hard fixes the issue as the rather modest amount of grinding I did so as to have children inherit lv 15 skills from their parents resulted in me ohkoing the final boss with a brave lance. Of course, lunatic is just Not Fun (tm) for the first couple of stages.

I thought I was grinding a lot but I guess not. I completed most of the Children Paralogues with my guys somewhere between levels 6-10 in their promoted classes, and I promoted everyone at level 10.

While people have said that promoting at 10 is the quickest way to the lv 15 skills, the huge deficit in exp makes the amount of exp you lose out on quite significant. Considering the parent's stats affect the base stats that a child come at, it's quite important to consider as well. Having my Morgan show up with already maxed Str was quite hilarious.

Even as a new player I found it to be easy near the end.

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