It’s not often when a game truly wows me. But when I originally tried the demo for Fire Emblem: Awakening, I knew I had to pre-order the game.
I had been a fan of the Fire Emblem series since 2004, back when it originally debuted in North
America. The series, known for its difficulty and need to plan things out carefully, always encouraged players to test out new teams, try other units, or use different tactics to win the game.
Of course, players new to the game would probably get lost quickly. The rules of the game can take a little getting used to, and players will almost certainly miss out on recruiting new units, making sure to use certain ones, or losing units as they progress through the game.
But thankfully, there have a few major improvements. Awakening is probably the best Fire Emblem to start with if you’re new to the series. Not only does it introduce a new mechanic – “pairing-up” – it also gets rid of a couple of things that everyone new to the series would fall for.
It used to be that Fire Emblem games had “trap units,” characters that just had terrible stat growths. The adverse was also true. Some units were just too good not to use. Awakening removes that concept, though. Every unit is worth using, but some will require more training than others.
Recruitment is also improved. Some units in previous Fire Emblem titles had obscure recruitment requirements. In this game, it’s simplified. You only have to talk to them with Chrom, the main character of this game.
The other two significant changes are re-classing – the ability to change the character to a different class – and infinite level-ups. It used to be that once units leveled up to 20, they were unable to
grow any more. But through re-classing, units can constantly reset themselves to level one, and keep increasing their stats until they hit the stat cap.
Skills are back too. Every unit can equip five skills, but they can learn more than that. By re-classing, players can have their characters learn some powerful skill sets. It makes the game much more interesting, allowing players to have that kind of customization they couldn’t have before.
Fire Emblem: Awakening also allows players to make their own avatar, who serves as the second main character. Your personal character can re-class into anything, and you determine his/her stat growths.
The final gameplay element to talk about is marriage. Characters can wed in this game, and some couples will have children, which can also be used. Naturally, your character can marry anyone they want to.
The added content, though nice, doesn’t make up for some things. In previous titles, there were multiple kinds of maps, and different objectives. Awakening has only two objectives: rout the enemy and defeat the commander. The maps don’t have much variation, either.
Still, this criticism isn’t enough to bring the game down. Overall, it’s a brilliant addition to the Fire Emblem series, and easily one of the best games on the 3DS.