Review by RexRagnell

"A great game with difficulty unsuitable for new Fire Emblem players"

As the tenth installment of Intelligent System's Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is also the sequel to Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Old characters from the previous episode returned in the new game, along with new ones and other innovations. However, will this sequel be as “radiant” as Path of Radiance?

This review is separated into six sections:
Gameplay
Story
Graphic/Sound
Replayability/ Playtime
Conclusion

Gameplay (7/10)
Just like its previous installments, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn still retained its old gameplay. You move units on squares each turn to perform tasks like attacking enemy units and win battles by completing certain objectives, like defeating the boss. From the wide selections of characters to choose from, you can use the physically-powerful Fighters, fragile but lethal Mages, and all-rounded Paladins. Radiant Dawn also preserves the Laguz units, who are capable of transforming into fierce animals temporarily. But beware, Fire Emblem is famous for its “permanent death”, which means your unit will remain dead if the HP depletes to 0, and this game is no exception.

Since the gameplay remained in “Fire Emblem style”, there's nothing to complain since it's easy to control. But while the difficulty of Path of Radiance is between easy to mediocre, the sequel's difficulty is quite high, even in easy mode; even some Fire Emblem veterans and regulars might be troubled by the extreme difficulty of hard mode. Not only your characters in the beginning are under-leveled, the enemy units' stats are capable to killing your units easily. The battle system is also further complicated by many new factors, like authority.

Story (9/10)
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn delivered a solid and intriguing storyline. Because the story is somewhat independent from its predecessor, new gamers don't need to play Path of Radiance to fully understand Radiant Dawn's story, though it would better if they do.

After the Mad King's War, the defeated country of Daein was under the tyrannical rule of a large nation of Begnion. As the result, a mysterious sliver-hair maiden gathered a rebel group called the Dawn Brigade to revolt against Begnion. When the Dawn Brigade's rebellion succeed and freed Daein, they unintentionally entered a great war that threatens to devour Tellius in chaos.

Radiant Dawn's story is basically about the continent of Tellius after the events in Path of Radiance. The story presents many plot twists that can catch players off guard, and it's definitely an interesting plot that will hook the players. In my opinion, this game has an excellent storyline, despite of its overoptimistic and irrelevant ending.

Switching among three different perspectives, the story is told from the views of the rebel group Dawn Brigade, Crimean Queen Elincia and her army, and Path of Radiance's main characters, the Greil Mercenary. But given little time with each set of different characters, players barely have enough time for deep character development. Hence, for everyone, people in the Dawn Brigade are cardboard characters; for players who have never played Path of Radiance, every character is nothing but a 2-D portrait.

Graphic/ Sound (6/10)
This game isn't too “radiant” when it comes to graphic. Though its graphic isn't too horrible, Radiant Dawn is still lagging in time. The graphic felt like it's a Gamecube game instead of a Wii game. Beside the impressive CGI scenes that are few in number, Radiant Dawn doesn't present a great visual overall and no improvement from its predecessor.

But the music in this game is undoubtedly worth the praise. Each of them are beautifully composed and played at the right situations. Hence, the music set the right atmospheres in every scene and scenario in the game; they also spice up the long dialogue scenes, which sometimes can be boring and dull without any background music.

Replayability/Playtime (8/10)
Radiant Dawn is composed of thirty-five levels, separated into four uneven parts. Most levels require you to wipe out every foe on large maps, so a single level can take up to an hour without careful planning beforehand. Therefore, finishing Radiant Dawn would probably consume up to a month, depending how fast you prepare and finish a level, and certainly longer at higher difficulty.

The possible playtime may lead you to conclude that this game will be tedious, but that is not the case. Even though all levels are a bit similar, each of them provides a unique challenge that will refresh you. In addition to the excellent storyline, you will be addicted once you are into the game.

After you beat the game once, new characters can be recruited. Also, you can choose the variety of more than seventy characters each time you replay the game, since the game will only allow about ten units to be used in each level. However, other than those, the game isn't attractive in terms of replayability. Spending an additional month on the same game isn't appealing to anyone, since Radiant Dawn isn't the best game around.

Conclusion
Far from being a rip-off game sequel, Radiant Dawn presents an excellent storyline. Despite that the game graphic is quite backward, it won't affect the gameplay. This game will no doubt offer you an extended time of fun.

Radiant Dawn should be on your buy list if you have played Fire Emblem before and you are seeking for a game that will last you for a while without beating the same game multiple times. If you played Path of Radiance, this is a definite buy for you. However, if you are new to the series, you should reconsider and test whether you can overcome the sheer difficulty by renting the game first. In conclusion, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is a great game that is unsuited for newcomers to Fire Emblem series, mainly because of the game's difficulty level.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/23/09

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


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