Review by Reksxthexpirate
"A Radiant Sequel!"
Fire Emblem: a series that found it's niche in places outside of Japan in quite a surprising way. The inclusion of Fire Emblem characters Marth and Roy made gamers outside of Japan grow a sudden interest in the Fire Emblem series as a whole, and with good reason. Fire Emblem is known for it's fantastic storytelling, strategic, engaging gameplay, lovable characters, and above all, it's staggering difficulty.
Fire Emblem 10, or Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, is the sequel to the GameCube's Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, which was the very first ever Fire Emblem game in the US to be on a home console. It introduced Ike and his fellow companions, The Greil Mercenaries, and their struggle to bring down the Mad King Ashnard of Daein and bring peace to the land of Tellius. The Greil Mercenaries, with the help of the Laguz (*Animal-like people that range from birds, hawks, dragons, and tigers.), bring down Ashnard. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn starts off on a unique note. You begin playing as The Dawn Brigade of Daein, the country Ike and his army crushed in the previous game. Their rebelling of the country Begnion leads them into some tight situations, and you begin fighting right from the very start, with Sothe and Micaiah as the main characters. As the story progresses, the Dawn Brigade becomes stronger, and secrets are revealed about some of the main characters, which may come as a shocker. Radiant Dawn is split into 4 chapters, and the perspective from which you will play is constantly changing, unlike Path of Radiance, where you played as Ike's army throughout the entire game. You will once again be able to control Ike's army, and every character except one (*Largo, because his arm was lost in battle during the 3 years between the two games.) from Path of Radiance. As you may have already guessed, the game literally sets you up to engage both armies that you trained throughout the game in an all-out war, but there is much more to it than that. Towards the end of the game, things do become just a tad bit cliche, but you will be surprised after witnessing some of the events that take place, and some of the characters that change. The story is very engaging, and is as solid as any other Fire Emblem game in that aspect. (*Infact, it's so good, I'm not telling you any more about it! Hah!)
Be warned, do not -- and I repeat -- DO NOT start on Medium difficulty if this is your first Fire Emblem game. You will get frustrated, you will become lost, and you may even bury yourself into a hole that you can't get yourself out of. The tried and true (*And also very challenging, but oftentimes frustrating.) gameplay returns with more depth, more units, more abilities, more items, and more strategy. In Fire Emblem, there are two golden rules. Your weapons break after a certain amount of uses, and when one of your units dies, they are gone for the entire game. If somebody you've been pouring tons and tons of experience into dies mid-chapter because you overlooked something, you're most likely going to have to restart the chapter and do EVERYTHING over again!
Now, I'm going to break things down into 5 categories as always.
Presentation - 8/10
The game is filled with superb cutscenes that push the story forward, and leave your jaw touching the floor at all times. The menus are easy, and are the way they have always been.
The interface is rather bland, and doesn't do a whole lot to stand out. Seriously needs some Wii-mote integration. Though the cutscenes are fantastic, and there are more of them in comparison to Path of Radiance, but you'll still be wishing there were more of them.
Graphics - 8/10
Characters are displayed in two ways. One of the views is essentially a giant mini-map with a grid, and somewhat resembles a chessboard with scenery. The other, is a when characters engage in combat with eachother. You see your units, and foes in action, up close.
The actual combat sequences look pleasing. Everything has a softer look than Path of Radiance did, and the environments during battle scenes look much better as well. Character models look softer and less gritty, and the animations are much more fluid, unlike Path of Radiance. Also, some of the spells and special moves look absolutely mind-blowing, especially ones shown later in the game.
The mini-map screen features rather blocky character models and some ugly textures. It retains the look of the old Fire Emblem games for the GBA, but it doesn't quite cut it on a full 3D level. Hopefully this is changed in future games.
Audio - 10/10
The songs are all fully orchestrated, and some of Path of Radiance's best songs return as well. There are countless songs, and the battle theme changes every few chapters to avoid monotony. The songs are actually memorable. The voice acting is a bit better this time around, but could still be improved. Attacks sound as they should, and critical hits sound as ferocious as ever.
My only small complaint is during some cutscenes the characters sound a tad muffled, especially Ranulf.
Gameplay - 10/10
Strategic, fun, yet complex gameplay returns with some slight changes. Quite possibly one of the funnest turn-based strategy games to ever land on U.S. shores. Even though it is a little luck-based like Pokemon, it boasts much more strategy and depth. Thank the lord for difficulty settings -- anything past normal is absolutely positively grueling.
Some people will not like the fact when characters die, they disappear forever. There is no bringing them back by any means. When they're dead, they're dead. (*With the exception of some characters, such as Soren and Mist. They're needed to progress the story, so if they die, you simply cannot use them.) Weapon breaks may upset some as well, but it all adds to the challenge.
Replayability - 9/10
The actual game itself is so much fun, the characters are so lovable, and the story is so good, you'll probably want to play through it on a harder difficulty about 3 times. The game itself is long, and will take you a satisfying 30-40 hours to complete your first time through.
There really isn't a whole lot to unlock. It can be hit or miss for some people. If you didn't love the game your first time through, you'll likely never pick it up again.
Should you buy or rent this game? Like most RPG/Strategy games, the game is far too long to beat in a single rent. I advise you buy it.
I think Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is worthy of a 9/10, and is worth playing if you have even slight interest in strategy games. As a sequel, it does everything that it should, and if you're anything like me, you'll be upset to know this is the final game of Ike's saga. Enjoy the last of Ike's adventures!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/25/08
Game Release: Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (US, 11/05/07)
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