Review by Waterfox
"Just the GCN Fire Emblem with some new features."
Now, don't get me wrong here; This game is good. It is an excellent game for hardcore Fire Emblem players and those who love strategy RPG's. However, newcomers to the Fire Emblem series should play the other Fire Emblem games (From now on it will be abbreviated as FE) before playing this one. This game provides a good challenge and is dubbed one of the toughest FE games, and possibly the toughest American FE. But challenge is nothing if the gameplay isn't that good.
The in-battle graphics in this FE installment have improved a bit from the GCN, but still are not "eye candy". I found them enjoyable to watch for the first and second part of the game, however, they have been getting a bit repetitive after that, and you may want to turn them off. I only turn them on for boss battles, only because I like the boss theme.
The battlefield graphics haven't improved much since Path of Radiance, however. Just throw in Path of Radiance graphics, a bit more colour and some new character sprites and vola, you have Radiant Dawn graphics. Not much improvement at all. It's not SNES style graphics, but they could be improved quite a bit in many ways.
But, due to the fact that this is a Strategy RPG, and this genre is not known for their superb graphics. The point: If you don't give two sticks about the graphics and just want to play for the game for it's story and gameplay like me, then this part of the game shouldn't bug you too much.
Yikes. That may be a harsh score, but once you play the game, you might not find it so. The game is the sequel to Path of Radiance, the FE for the Nintendo Gamecube. So to get some of the story, you might want to play that game first. The game is split into 4 parts, which have some sort of different story, but eventually these different stories combine into one once you reach the near end of the game.
The story takes place on Tellius, a continent where to types of species live. The beorc, the humans, and the laguz, the half man, half beast creatures. This story takes place approximately 3 years after Crimea, one of Tellius's countries, regained it's status after getting defeated by the neighboring country of Daein. Now it is Daein that is falling apart, being under control by the Begnion empire, the largest country on Tellius, who claimed Daein after the war was over. A small group of rebels named the Dawn Brigade rebel against the Beginion soldiers, trying to take their country back from the Begnion Empire.
At least, that is the story for Part 1. The other parts have different stories, though not as much developed as the first part. Overall, the story is somewhat weaker than Path of Radiance. To understand most of the characters, you will most likely want to play the GCN FE first before before playing this.
Sound and Music: 9/10
Ah yes, the game's most strongest point. The soundtrack is amazing, with so many new tracks and returning tracks from the previous game really gives you a sense of nostalgia if you played Path of Radiance. The FE series is known for it's high-quality music, and this game, like many of the onces before it, delivers it once again. The sound track is unlocked once you beat the game once. Great music, you must be crazy if you can't enjoy at least one of it's many tracks and themes.
Ah, here we are. The meat of the game, the main course. However, once again, it's basically Path of Radiance re-made, with some different and new quality's and features.
Fire Emblem has your units, usually a small amount of around 10-14, against enemy units, which may be double or triple the times amount of your own units. Each map, or chapter comes with an objective, such as Defeat Boss, Seize, Rout Enemy etc. If you complete this objective, you move on to the next chapter and learn a little bit more of the story. While completing maps, your unit gains levels, eventually reaching a high enough level to promote and change classes, making you even more powerful. Each game has a main character(s) that if they end up dieing, you earn a game over and are forced to restart the chapter. Here is the thing about FE: If a unit dies, they will never come back. They are dead forever, which adds realism and more strategy to the game.
Ok, now onto this game's gameplay. People who have played the previous Fire Emblems way find this game more difficult, especially those who only played the second GBA Fire Emblem, which was quite easy. For the first half of Part 1, you will need to protect your units, as most of them will go down in two hits. The AI has been greatly improved this game, they go after you weaker units if they can. Their stats have also been raised, so you are no longer facing soldiers with 2 defense, but much higher. Even FE veterans may have trouble breezing through the first few chapters. There is an easy mode, so if normal is giving you way too much trouble, you can start a new file and try easy, which gives you more exp. and less enemies to deal with. Once you beat Part 1, Part 2 and 3 are considerably easier. The maps have a new feature: ledges. Some maps have ledges which units can go up or go down, and also affect your hit %, which adds more realism and strategy. This game also comes with third tier classes, so units can promote twice now, due to the fact this game is longer than all the other FE games. A special item is needed to promote to third tier, but you will find a few of these near the end of the game.
The Fire Emblem system hasn't changed much over the years, it's still the same choose your units, attack the enemy, deal damage, kill enemy, move on to clear the map. I have no problem with this, as this is what Fire Emblem is. However, new features added on to the game spice it up, not making it so much as a copy of previous FE's. The gameplay is good, the difficulty at the start may turn players off, but if you like a challenge, then you will like this game.
Once you beat the game once, you access new features, like most of the character arts and screenshots and the sound room, plus Hard difficulty, which outmatches even Normal modes early difficulty by a large margin. The story during the second playthrough is a little bit different, however it is the same. You also get 2 new units you can recruit. Once you beat the game the second time around though, you probably might not want to play it again, since the game is fairly long, counting at around 44 chapters, which will keep you busy for a while.
Overall, if you are a Strategy RPG fan or Fire Emblem fan, or like difficulty, then you should buy it. Gamers new to the series and causal gamers may want to rent this first, or play the previous installments before buying this game. So my recommendation: Buy if you love the series; Rent if you are new to the series.
Recommended: Rent if new to series; Buy if you like the series
Final Score: 6.8, GameFaq's Score rounded: 7/10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/15/07
Game Release: Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (US, 11/05/07)
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