I've been having serious second thoughts about Awakening. *minor spoilers*

#1WestbrickIIIPosted 2/18/2013 9:49:10 AM
(This is going to be a long post, so brace yourselves.)

I was one of the first people on this site to submit a user review. I gave the game a perfect score. At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer: this was the best-looking and best-sounding Fire Emblem in the series, with a flawless support system and a fascinating new Pair Up mechanic. It's also the longest in the series and chock-full of optional / downloadable content. What wasn't to love? As it turns out, a lot of things. That initial import thrill has died down for me and has been replaced by deep disappointment. Awakening isn't a perfect game; I'm not even sure it's a good game. For starters...

1. The story. Everyone seems to agree it's bad, but it's really bad. The three main arcs (Gangrel, Walhart, Grima) are disjointed and aren't given enough time to develop, leaving us with a triad of unsatisfying storylines rather than a unified and satisfying tale. Major plot points are left ambiguous- why did Naga send the children to Time X rather than Time Y? how did the risen get through Naga's portal? why are the children characters split up? why does Naga have time-travel abilities in the first place, and why haven't these been used in past games?- and certain chapters seem completely disconnected from the main narrative. The charming simplicity of past games' stories has been replaced by a wonky SciFi-fantasy hybrid that aims for epic and ends up cluttered, confused, and strangely uninteresting.

2. Validar. He's perhaps the worst antagonist in the series. The GImleal are portrayed as mindless drones waiting to be harvested, and Validar himself has no motivation other than the resurrection of evil... for its own sake. Hardin, Nergal, and Ashnard are corrupted by power. Zephiel, Alvis, and Lyon all have a genuine goal driving their actions. Validar has nothing. He's as by-the-books as they come.

3. Support conversations. Much has been made of the quality translation, and this praise is deserved. The problem is that the material itself is lacking, and no amount of solid localization can fix this. Characters get married because they bake each other pies. Many of the conversations- Chrom walking in on FeMU bathing, Lucina and Cynthia going nuts over a bug- play out like a bad anime. And while there's plenty of character development, the characterization is never particularly good. There's a more nuanced conversation to be had here, but a quick example should explain what I mean: compare Erk, from FE7, to Ricken. Erk is a young mage like Ricken, but also ambitious and fiercely intelligent, often to a fault; he's got a quick wit, a sharp tongue, and a short temper. He's bad with women. Despite his cool outer appearance, he fatigues easily and obsesses over his master. He feels like a believable and complex human being despite his limited screen time. Ricken feels like a generic anime stereotype with a bit of backstory.

4. Balance. Or more specifically, the lack of balance. Nosferatu is broken. MU is broken. Frederick is broken. SpotPass content, DLC, and Renown items can trivialize any difficulty mode. You can elect not to take advantage of this imbalance, as I've tried to do recently, but this leads to two sub-problems:
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Play Fire Emblem: Awakening.
#2WestbrickIII(Topic Creator)Posted 2/18/2013 9:49:50 AM
4a. Children characters. The children acquire the growths and skills of their parents, making them exceptionally good units. To compensate, they're hidden in difficulty-curve-botching Paralogue maps, which means recruiting most of them on any mode above Normal a practical impossibility. When a typical non-grinding run sees only one or two children characters recruited, you know you've implemented a feature poorly.

4b. Challenge runs. I remained optimistic as long as I could, but this True Lunatic run I've been trying out proves that the game is not designed around challenge runs. If you don't take advantage of broken options, you're left with an underleveled and outmatched team that demands favorable RNG rolls on the later maps. This leads to an infuriating paradox: the higher difficulties can't be reasonably completed without broken options, but broken options (unsurprisingly) break the game completely. It is impossible to enjoy Lunatic for this reason, and cripples the game's replayability.

5. Lunatic+. This mode is a complete mess for obvious reasons. I should also mention same-turn reinforcements: while Awakening handles these fairly well, notifying the player on which maps reinforcements will arrive and always having them come from predictable places, it transforms strategizing on the higher difficulties into bouts of trial and error. This is not good design.

6. Inconsistent tone. In places, this is a very dark game. People kill themselves. Thousands are lost in war. The game takes place on the backdrop of past cruelty and oppression. The future is condemned to death and fire. Yet there's plenty of goofy romance, fourth-wall breaking, fanservice, swimsuit scenes, and even awkward slapstick to take whatever serious tone exists and undermine it completely.

7. Lacking map design. I've decided MarthKoopa is spot-on with this criticism: the open maps are devoid of interesting design, made worse by the lack of meaningful secondary objectives. The Paralogues are better, but still a mixed bag. Nothing says "bleh" like an escort mission with high-level, same-turn reinforcements. The map locations are nicely varied (mountains, plains, waterfalls, giant trees, even a dragon's back), but the design beneath the aesthetic is drab and samey. Awakening really could have used the multiple mission objectives of games like FE5 and FE7.

As an Awakening importer and diehard Fire Emblem fan, I've been invested in this game for obvious reasons. But when I look at the game from a distance, it's unforgivably flawed. Playing Awakening for the first time is like walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet: there is such a staggering amount of content and flexibility that it's hard not to whet your chops and dig in. After a few plates, however, you begin to realize that the food isn't of a particularly high quality and doesn't blend well together. That won't stop the masses from enjoying it, as evidenced from the universal praise the game's received, but the longer you stick around, the more shallow the venue becomes.

There's an all-time great game buried in here, but too deep to be recovered. The game's difficulty is broken beyond repair, despite my best efforts. The characterization is lacking and the characters reek of bad anime stereotypes. The story is a mess. The antagonists aren't remotely compelling. The map design is bland and held back by limited mission objectives and questionable design choices. I just can't believe it's taken me so long to come to terms with all this.
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Play Fire Emblem: Awakening.
#3ShadowEspionagePosted 2/18/2013 10:01:10 AM
And it's still better than damn near every game I've played in a very long time.
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I'm fairly confident that the CoD series can't get any worse than Black Ops. Unless, of course... Treyarch makes Black Ops 2... zombie95
#4TorajimaPosted 2/18/2013 10:01:53 AM
And so it begins.

Now that Awakening is popular, it must suck right?
#5WestbrickIII(Topic Creator)Posted 2/18/2013 10:04:05 AM
Torajima posted...
And so it begins.

Now that Awakening is popular, it must suck right?


Alternatively, playing through a game nearly a dozen times helps you begin to realize its more serious faults. But if you want to chalk this up to me being a hipster despite throwing together a two-post criticism, by all means.
#6imthestuntmanPosted 2/18/2013 10:04:27 AM
I generally agree with pretty much everything you just said, out of curiosity given this what would your revised score be?

Personally i have more trouble assigning a number to it than almost any other game.
#7ChromKirbyPosted 2/18/2013 10:05:20 AM
Lunatic Impossible, but broken Mu and Frederick.... MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!
#8imthestuntmanPosted 2/18/2013 10:06:22 AM
Torajima posted...
And so it begins.

Now that Awakening is popular, it must suck right?


Im actually not getting the impression it is much more popular. The shortages are more nintendos ill preparation for the games release than a sudden surge of popularity for the series.
#9rhys855Posted 2/18/2013 10:07:01 AM
The only thing i'll comment is on 1. Supports and 2. balance

Support's in this game are on par with FE7.

I really don't get were you are trying to get at? why do you hate the supports because character wed after making each other pies or having some other silly little conversation.

But it's ok for Lyn and Hector to wed when most of their support they are just sparing with one another?


Balance.yes, Nosferatu and DLC are broken deal with it. We are going to pay good money for a chapter we can only do once i knew this from the start.

And for character being broken for the love of god we are going to have broken character's in any fire emblem so this isn't much of a point.

As of every other point or should i say complaint you wrote Your just being butthurt. I for one love Awakening's maps.
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#10ShadowEspionagePosted 2/18/2013 10:07:40 AM
WestbrickIII posted...
Torajima posted...
And so it begins.

Now that Awakening is popular, it must suck right?


Alternatively, playing through a game nearly a dozen times helps you begin to realize its more serious faults. But if you want to chalk this up to me being a hipster despite throwing together a two-post criticism, by all means.


Even though I'll probably agree with your post a month or two from now, most video games tend to suck once you play the crap out of it.
Especially when there's no multiplayer available.
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I'm fairly confident that the CoD series can't get any worse than Black Ops. Unless, of course... Treyarch makes Black Ops 2... zombie95