There's a certain sense of exclusivity around the Fire Emblem franchise, some consider this to be because of the series' complete lack of accessibility for newcomers. However, we believe that Fire Emblem: Awakening drastically changes that. Fire Emblem: Awakening seems to retain accessibility at the forefront of it's goal throughout, but does it do a good job at keeping this?
Intelligent Systems' ambitions to keep Fire Emblem: Awakening accessible to newcomers of the series, are extremely clear from the offset. With the developer adding the new functionality to allow players to select one of three difficulty modes, depending on your skill, you can choose Normal; Hard or even Lunatic. Furthermore, the player is given the opportunity to select between "Newcomer" and "Classic" game modes, witch differentiates what happens to fallen units in the battle and save functionality.
After choosing these simple options, players are thrown straight into the normal affairs that come with a Fire Emblem game. With Character Customization being an initial option to change your game's path from the offset and the functionality to select strengths and weaknesses that will affect your game greatly in later stages.
The premise of Fire Emblem: Awakening will be quite easy to understand for you, if you've played a game in the series before. You essentially travel the land with your party and defeat various characters with a battle system that is much akin to the likes of Advance Wars. The whole situation being wrapped up in an at times, over-overwhelmingly complicated story-line.
Despite the story being a little difficult to get to grips with it, it is presented nicely through a selection of cut-scenes and voice narration. Fire Emblem: Awakening is however, extremely text intensive, with alot of reading needed round every corner. Small pieces of text feature a small amount of voice narration. Still, it's a shame that Intelligent Systems weren't able to offer this voice narration as a constant. However, the presentation of text and speech boxes is all together quite neat and tidy.
As aforementioned, the battle system is extremely akin to the likes of Advance Wars, which surprisingly is also an Intelligent Systems title. However, the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem battle system is known for being quite controversial, with gamers either loving or hating it. It's quite safe to say however, that we really do love the battle system here. It sees the player taking alternate turns with the enemy to move their players and strike attacks, it's a little bit like Chess, I suppose.
Again, as I mentioned earlier, presentation is extremely tight throughout the game. Everything from the presentation of text to menu screens etc. has had a nice polish and Intelligent Systems haven't cut any corners, for sure.
Furthermore, the graphics of the Fire Emblem franchise are extremely well suited to Nintendo's 3D handheld. With battle scenes keeping their slightly pixelated feel, whilst cut-scenes feature beautiful and quite heavy 3D visuals that compliment the storyline in a positive fashion. However, the visuals can appear a little dark at times and lack the energetic character of titles such as Dragon Quest IX.
It would be fair to say that Fire Emblem: Awakening doesn't completely rely on music and sound, however, Intelligent Systems have gone all out in making it an impressive affair. Battle scenes are well accompanied by dramatic music, whilst cut-scenes are fit perfectly with appropriate musical treats.
There's a complete lack of multiplayer, whether it be online or local. This doesn't concern us too much, but it would have been nice to try out the awesome battle system with friends. What Intelligent Systems have included mind is quite sturdy Streetpass Functionality, which in some respects does compensate for the lack of included Mutliplayer.
In conclusion, Intelligent Systems have gone some way in making the Fire Emblem franchise alot more accessible to everybody, whilst keeping the charm and fun for veterans of the series. However, the storyline can be a little overwhelming at times and the lack of multiplayer is slightly disappointing in part. + Josh Moorcroft-Jones
8/10 - The most accessible Fire Emblem game to date. Intelligent Systems have done a great job at retaining what we love about Fire Emblem, whilst easily welcoming newcomers to the series.
Review copy provided by Nintendo