Fire Emblem enters the states with a bang!
I'll start out by saying that I've been a big fan of the Fire Emblem series since I played an import version of Fire Emblem 6: Sword of Seals, which I loved so much I played through about 3/4 of the game despite not understanding a word of japanese. When I found out that Fire Emblem 7: The blazing sword was going to get an english translation I was over the moon and this game has lived up to my expectations and more since day 1. The only unfortunate thing is that this game is slightly overshadowed (for me at least) by it's older sibling, Fire Emblem 4: Geneology of the Holy War for the SNES, but only because I consider that game to be godlike.
I'll start off with the story. The story is one of the only things that mildly blights the Fire Emblem series in that they all have kind of a similar plot and you can usually bet that the final boss of the game is going to be a dragon in some form or another. Fire Emblem 7 actually has a fairly unique plot though and it's still the only game to have 3 lords and a tactician character played by you. The story of this game takes places before the events of Fire Emblem 6, which never saw the light of day on western shores so chances are you aren't going to care a whole lot about that. The only thing I'll assume you need to know is that the main protagonist of this game is Eliwood, most people will know his son, Roy from Super Smash Brothers Melee, who is the main prtagonist of Fire Emblem 6. The other lords play a huge role in the game, in fact there is an option to make the other lord, Hector the main focus of the game after you complete it with Eliwood. The actual story of this game is long, even longer if you take the time like I am still doing to go back and find out more about the characters through support conversations and doing Hector's story mode. It doesn't have quite the twists and turns of FE4's story but it's still really immersive yet easy to follow.
The graphics are nice, quite cartoony compared to the old FE games which have a more dirty and dark feel to them. Character designs look great and I like how character portraits actually animate, their mouths move when they talk and they occassionally blink, the lords also have a few different expressions. The actual battle sprites look nice too, the lords all have their own unique design and everyone else still looks very cool with a little bit of fancy colour on them in order to make each character slightly unique. The final boss is pretty epic too, it was only a tiny screen and yet when I saw him coming at me for the very first time my stomach just sank into my feet, it hit me that hard. The battle grounds look very nice aswell and there's really just enough variety to keep you from becoming bored. A really nice feature that was added to this title was the inclusion of some very nicely drawn CG scenes that depict important moments, you can collect these and view them in the music menu and trust me, you're going to want to look at them over and over again.
The music in this game is really nice, I still personally find the main theme of Fire Emblem really inspiring, I'd really compare it to great movie themes like the Star Wars and Indiana Jones main themes. The other tracks are great and all really stand out, I still go into the music player menu and listen to a few tracks from time to time. Every track suits the moment and has a way of playing on your emotions to the point where you just feel really inspired.
Really the gameplay of every Fire Emblem title is the same with a few tweaks and balances to each title. This game has a few different modes of play and a whole tutorial section at the begining making it very accessable for new players. What's always good about Fire Emblem is that if you lose a character in battle, that's it, that person is dead and will never come back (the only exception was in Fire Emblem 4 where you could ressurect people but for a very high price). This really serves to make the combat more tactical, you can't just rush your men in blindly, you actually have to think very carefully about what you're doing, weigh your men's strengths and weaknesses and cover them appropriately and if an unfortunate situation arrises, you have to decide if you're willing to sacrifice someone's life for the chance to move on. This gameplay is so engaging in that aspect and it's pretty easy to pick up but very hard to master, it'll keep you coming back for more.
All in all, the Fire Emblem series is just one that everyone should at some point have the opportunity to enjoy and if you haven't already picked up a title in the series then Fire Emblem 7 is probably the best place to start. This series is really one that you owe it to yourself as a gamer to play.