Wednesday, January 22, 2014

[3DS] Fire Emblem: Awakening Review + Thoughts

Finished the game today. It was pretty damn good. This is actually the first Fire Emblem game I ever played. I do own a few of the other games but never got around to them for some reason. I decided to check out Awakening because of all the rave reviews. I originally started playing as a male in Classic Mode which had permadeath on. But I found out I screwed up and killed a possible recruit and I kept resetting the game when I lost a Unit I liked. So I decided to play a brand new game with a female in Casual Mode. It was pretty interesting seeing some dialogue changes between the two different genders. I also thought certain story elements were way more interesting but I'll talk about it in the Story section.

Story - (Contains massive spoilers. You have been warned.)

So in switching between a male and female character, your relationship with Chrom is entirely different right from the start. It was pretty interesting to see the male as a bro and the female as a love interest in the Support dialogue for Chrom. I thought the bro thing was alright but the game's story was vastly better when your Avatar is female. The bond between Chrom and my character was super sweet. I also really enjoyed the scenes between my character and her future daughter, Lucina as well. It added a lot of cool moments. I wonder how that goes with the male Avatar? Probably something entirely different.

The overall story/plot was pretty smart. Your Avatar is basically you or your persona but they have a reason why. Unlike most of games where you have this random blank cypher without a true background or story, your Avatar had a reason for being who he/she is in this game. I loved the twist where you're supposed to be the villain fighting your destiny to become one. There were some branching choices that changed the game's outcome in a few specific points in the story. I chose what I assumed was the best ending. The extra scene after the credits cemented my assumption and made the ending super satisfying. Loved it.

I also really enjoyed all the characters you recruited into your army. They're all funny or weird. The dialogue between them can be downright hilarious. I was laughing out loud over some of them. The entire story with the future children interacting with their young parents was also funny as hell. The situations they get themselves into is sometimes really silly. It was worth grinding through the game just to get their Support relationship maxed out and see all their dialogue. I didn't get a couple of characters so I'm really happy that I can replay and try to see the dialogue that I missed. They're really entertaining and added a lot to the Units outside of stats. They did an admirable job making me care about these characters.  Props to the localization team. They did a great job.


The game is a turn-based strategy game with some role playing elements. It's all very standard. I'm new to this franchise so I was a bit confused with the way some of the weapon systems worked. I don't think I actually got a hang of it even after 30+ hours of gameplay. A couple of my Units became OP in the last third of the game so I basically had them clear out most tougher enemies to get through the story. 

As mentioned, the game allows permadeath but this is the first game in the franchise that allows you to turn it off in Casual Mode which made the game way less tense. The game was still challenging at times especially near the end. The ability to turn off permadeath really allowed me to work on building Unit relationships and just enjoy the characters and story. If you guys want the challenge, the game has additional tougher difficulties for you so both noobs and veterans can enjoy it.

Unit relationships is a major deal in this game. The more you fight with certain units the better they fight together. Not all Units allow this but most do. You basically get better stats the more they fight together and you also unlock more Support dialogue as well. So not only is this good for the battles but it also adds to the story. I found myself playing in a very specific way so I could max out the relationship for my Units.

One really annoying thing was having to constantly restock weapons and items though. Weapons can be depleted through normal use in battle which was new to me. There was a lot of restocking which was an extra step this game didn't need. I didn't mind restocking items but weapons was a chore. It's just busywork. Money was hard to come by early in the game but you'll eventually get to a point where you'll find plenty in optional Challenges and story missions. I also didn't like that specific stores only had a certain amount of items in stock so I had to run back and forth looking for a specific weapon/item that I wanted. There should have been a universal store that sold everything to save time. The stores also allow you the ability to Forge but I only used it once and never used them again. It's expensive and doesn't actually make your standard weapons that much more powerful. Maybe I'm wrong but I found forging useless.

I need to point out that once you beat the game, you unlock some stuff in the Extras mode. I won't spoil what they are but they do add a bit of replayability to the game.


The FMV cutscenes were pretty stunning. They're basically 3D CGI made to look like 2D anime. I really liked the look and animation. It's too bad they're so sparse but at least they're there. The actual 3D models were disappointing. The overall look of the character models looked like something from a PS1/PS2 game. Thankfully, the animations for the combat get better and better as it goes on. Some of the later critical attacks and magic spells look fantastic and super smooth. They're very well animated. The 2D sprites on the battlefield look pretty basic and tiny but at least they're detailed enough that you can easily recognize them. The battlefield themselves also look pretty basic with a few standouts. You won't love this game for the 3D visuals. The 3D effects are crap as well so don't bother turning it on. On the other hand, the 2D character portrait art is great and I loved all the character designs.

The audio is great for the most part. The VO is fine although nothing really stood out at me. You only hear full conversations during the FMV cutscenes. There's only some phrases or words spoken randomly during in-game cutscenes and during the Support dialogue. The random chatter/grunts etc during those in-game scenes were semi-annoying because they didn't really match the text.. They do add a lot of personality to the characters but I wish they words they uttered weren't so random. The music is excellent. I never got tired of any tracks even after hours of hours of the same music. There are a few standout tracks but they're saved for big epic moments.

Overall Thoughts

This was a really great game. I found myself super addicted to it for days and days. The story really hooked me and I really liked all the characters. They're all pretty charming and super funny. The writing was terrific. I'm probably gonna check out the previous installments in my collection now that I'm familiar with some of the mechanics. There seemed to be some nods and callbacks to the earlier games and I'm super curious about them now. Anyway, if you like turn-based SRPGs, definitely check this out.