Review by neonreaper

"If you enjoyed Path of Radiance, play this. Otherwise, pass."

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is the sequel to Path of Radiance. It continues the story while introducing new characters and struggles, and wraps everything up. The story it tells is stellar, the characters are usually good, but the unit management is soured by poor pacing and the choppy nature of the game's approach.

Gameplay:
Not much different from Path of Radiance, you take turns with the enemy (and allies) positioning your units on the battlefield and performing actions (attack, items, etc.). Permanent death and the weapon triangle (on Easy and Normal difficulties) return, which give Fire Emblem it's unique take on the SRPG genre. In addition, we get ledges and Battle Save (also Easy and Normal). Ledges don't add much, but Battle Save on Normal allows people to be a little more creative and aggressive without punishing the player. This is something Fire Emblem has sorely lacked and is a welcome addition to the series.

The first portion of the game is fairly difficult and at times outright annoying to play through, as you are saddled with weak characters in cheap situations. The game becomes much easier beyond that. Sadly, you're going to hop from group to group, never really settling on the same group of characters for more than handful of battles in a row.

The enjoyment of SRPGs should be in one part the battles, another part the story, but also the development of your units. Almost as soon as you become attached to one group of characters, you're playing a whole new group of people. You never really get into the flow of developing characters and enjoying their role in your little army. Without a guide, it can be hard to know which units will be effective in the endgame, and you often have to rush to force certain characters to be as good as they can.

One minor issue is that you can't revisit Info that you've already read. If you misread something, accidentally skip something, or want to read it again, tough luck.

Story:
Radiant Dawn continues Path of Radiance's terrific story and does not disappoint. The approach to the game may make the gameplay choppy and uneven, but it benefits the story. Did you wonder how Daein would heal after Path of Radiance, or how Crimea would hold up after the victory? How about racial tensions between laguz and beorc? They're addressed in this game, as are other outstanding issues, and a whole slew of new ones. Even if you're letdown by the gameplay as I was, the story is well worth the time invested.

Design/graphics:
The game looks and feels simple and benefits from this approach. The animated sequences as well the preview sections look good, and there's nothing to complain about here. Even the 2D segments are fine in a world of 3D.

Music/sounds:
Effects are only OK, but the narrator has a good story-telling voice and conveys the emotions of each situation well without going overboard. Voice-acting might occur during the CGI but is absent during the rest of the game.

Controls:
A non-issue in the game, they work well but aren't important. The lack of Wii remote support is noticeable but not major.

Replayability:
Well, there are people that love this game, love to replay it and discuss which characters are the best, and enjoy the challenge of hard mode as well as the slight additions/changes hard mode offers. There are also different bits of dialog depending on your supports, and some people really enjoy trying to complete everything. For fans of this game, I'd say it offers plenty to do once you're finished, a real strong point for the Fire Emblem series.

If you weren't a huge fan, obviously there's not much else for you to do. The game is long enough including resets (even with Battle Save), that you won't feel short-changed either way.

Final Recommendation:
If you've played Path of Radiance and enjoyed it at all, then Radiant Dawn is a must-play. I find it to be a step or two in the wrong direction overall, yet it features just enough to make it worth playing. I highly urge you to play Path of Radiance first, though. Even then, this just feels like a letdown.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 08/13/08, Updated 02/13/09

Game Release: Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (US, 11/05/07)


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