Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-05-12 16:27:30
5 Good Things About Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS) is, without a doubt, a good game. I don't think many people would objectively be able to argue otherwise. However, while I acknowledge that the game is certainly decent, there are some aspects that are better than others, and some that don't work as well as they should. In the first of two articles, I will be illustrating five of the better aspects of Fire Emblem: Awakening. In the second article, I will suggest five areas in which it could be improved. To begin with the praise:
#1: The World Map - We've had a world map in Fire Emblem games before, such as Sacred Stones, but Awakening is definitely the biggest and best map to date in the series. It's constantly updating, with random enemy and merchant spawns, and as you unlock more chapters, various side-quests appear. You can also unlock the Paralogue chapters where you can recruit the children of characters in the game, as well as extra chapters that get beamed into your game through a wireless connection and appear on the map. The World Map in Awakening is expansive, featuring several countries to explore, and there are shops at every stop where the player can purchase new equipment. The result is one of the least linear Fire Emblem games to date, and you can spend hours doing things without moving on to the next chapter if you so choose to.
#2: The Production Values - This is the first Westernised Fire Emblem game to really feel as if great amounts of effort went into its production. While the GBA games and the GC and Wii titles were well translated and certainly not low-budget by any means, Awakening has lots of dialogue sound effects, great visuals for the system its on and more online features than almost any other Nintendo game. There are anime cutscenes and the soundtrack is orchestrated and lush. From almost any aesthetic standpoint, Awakening is a really well put together package.
#3: The Characters - Or, more specifically, the character art. Some fans of the series don't like the new art style, but I absolutely adore it. I definitely view it as a step up from Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn and I would love to see Fire Emblem continuing with this style. The characters are some of the most interesting to look at in the series, and the majority of them are buzzing with personality. At this stage it feels as if we've seen some of the character tropes before from the other games, but when each game in the series typically has a cast of over 40 playable characters, you can't really expect truly original characters with each new game. That isn't to say that the game doesn't have some truly stand-out characters, though, and the cast are, at least for the most part, an enjoyable bunch to get to know.
#4: Casual Mode - I'm certainly not a newcomer to the Fire Emblem franchise. While I don't consider myself to be the world's biggest fan, I've played all the games from Sealed Sword onwards, which basically means that I'm familiar with the relatively prolific Fire Emblem output since 2002. Thus, when I booted up Awakening for the first time, I played it in Classic Mode, which enables permadeath (if your characters die, they die for good). Permadeath has long been a staple of the series, and Awakening is the first game that allows you to remove it and have characters come back to life at the end of a chapter if playing in Casual Mode. Naturally, hardcore players and series veterans won't touch Casual Mode, but it's great that Intelligent Systems chose to include it. Fire Emblem isn't an easy series of games by any means, and so it's good that the developers are accommodating newcomers to the series with an easier mode to avoid putting off potential players. I can see no downside to having this mode in the game - it makes it more accessible to players who want an easier experience, while retaining the hardcore mode for those looking for a challenge.
#5: Online - While Awakening could certainly stand to have a better multiplayer mode, I would never consider the single player quest to be lacking in its wireless functionality. When playing the game while connected online, you're constantly getting new things sent to you. Whether it's characters from previous games becoming available to fight and recruit, new maps being beamed into your game, or new DLC becoming available for download, Awakening drip-feeds a constant stream of new content to the player. The game would still be good without an online connection, but Intelligent Systems have done a great job of incorporating wireless elements into the series, and I imagine they will continue following this formula in future releases.