Review by SlaveBlade
"Ah, good old Fire Emblem. You haven't changed much, have you?"
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is a Turn-Based Strategy RPG (TBSRPG) released in 2007 stateside. The Fire Emblem series, dating way back to the NES days, hasn't changed much, and that's a good thing, since it works! But enough of that, let's go into this game, shall we?
Put simply, the game is played on a grid where you have a handful of units going up against enemy units. You've got a plethora of characters to choose from, such as Edward the Myrmidon, Leonardo the Archer, or Nolan the Fighter, though there are many, many more characters that you get through the game, either by means of story progression, or by "talking" to them with certain characters under certain conditions. It's up to you, the player, to outwit and out maneuver the enemies, as they will usually outnumber your characters, and be on the same skill level as them. Speaking of levels...
The leveling system of Fire Emblem isn't a typical leveling system. You gain 100 EXP and you level up, but you've only got a chance to level up in your stats (You are, however, guaranteed at the absolute least 1 stat per level in this game). This sounds harsh, but it adds a layer of re-playability, and it encourages you to use different people in every play-through.
The battles, one of the most important things in this game, are determined by your stats obviously, and are played in rounds. On your turn, you can attack the enemy, and he has a chance to hit you back, and on his turn, he can hit you, and then you have a chance to hit him back. A character with high Speed will often double hit enemies, meaning they will hit, be countered, and hit again. A huge factor in combat is weapon durability. Put simply, you've only got so many hits with a single weapon before it breaks and disappears from your inventory. say you hit an enemy twice with an Iron Sword, which has a 50 out of 50 durability. Since you hit twice, it now has 48 durability, meaning if you hit 48 more times with that particular weapon, it's gone. But don't worry, you can purchase weapons at stores, and even find them off of enemies you've taken out.
This game is divided into 4 parts, which can kind of be confusing at first, since you don't always keep the same teams, let alone many of teh same units until the very final part of the game. What it does add, though, is the chance to see the story from multiple angles. Take it as you will, I find it to be a nice gameplay element.
A new feature that this game has is the Laguz. What are they? They are humanoids who can turn into beasts, birds, and even dragons. They have to play with a transformation gauge, meaning they have to either consume an item to give them a full gauge, or be attacked to increase their gauge. When it's full, they can transform, doubling all of their stats (Except HP and Luck), making them ridiculously powerful units, for a short period of time.
Oh dear, the story... Let me start with a summary: The Dawn Brigade, led by Micaiah, the "Silver haired Maiden", has been trying to liberate the country of Daein ever since the Mad King's War 3 years ago. Begnion, the largest country on Tellius, has occupied Daein and is running its citizenry, particularly the poor, into the ground. The Dawn Brigade has been spotted by the Begnion troops and is now on the run from them.
Now, obviously, there is more, and on a first play-through the story seems alright. It's when you start to critically think about the story later that you start to find many holes in it, some very flimsy reasoning and such. Is it bad? I wouldn't say so, but it isn't really anything special, which is really sad. The game could have easily been that much better if they had polished the story a little more.
Easily some of the best music I've heard in a game, and the sounds are equally impressive, (weapon swings, when they connect, sound incredibly devastating, and that is something I love to hear). It's your typical fantasy style music and such, but it has that extra Oomph that makes you feel really into the game. One track that comes to mind is the preparation screen for the Endgame maps. Epic, is a word I would use to describe it, and I truly mean it. The opening, where you just let the game sit there at the start menu, is AMAZING! One of the few games where I'll actually wait for the opening to play before I start playing, it's that good.
Play Time/Replayability 10/10
On a first play-through, I'd say roughly 40 hours, easily. It depends on how fast or slow you play it, really, how deeply you like to think things through. The re-playability, though, is quite phenomenal. You've got a HUGE cast of characters to choose from, well over 60, each with their own little quirks and traits and skills that make them unique.
Final Score 9/10
Final Recommendation: Fire Emblem is definitely a niche series, but if you like TBSRPGs at all, buy it. It's simple, yet satisfying.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/19/09
Game Release: Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (US, 11/05/07)
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