Over the weekend I finished up the story mode of Fire Emblem: Awakening. I’d written an earlier post about how much I was enjoying the game. The game continued to be so much fun right up to and including the ending mission. At about thirty-six hours of gameplay (and only minimal repeat mission grinding on my part), there was a ton of content in this hand-held title, and was certainly a good value for the money.
The game breaks down into two separate sets of mechanics: the tactical, turn-based combat, and strategic overworld with RPG elements. The strategic events and story missions serve to support the tactical missions where the actual battles take place. However, actions you take in the tactical missions affect the strategic game and open up new optional missions, shops, and characters.
The core tactical combat is solid, familiar but interesting. It’s difficult to really mess with the turn-based tactical combat system too much, and Fire Emblem: Awakening doesn’t stray too far from convention. You move your units around the map, smacking any enemies that appear, and defeat one special unit or all enemy units to succeed. However, the game uses several different elements such as obstacles, optional objectives, various movement rates, and time-based unit reinforcement to keep you on your toes instead of just rushing straight for the end goal of any given mission. These option objectives, often getting a new character to join your party or gaining you new, powerful items, are usually worth pursuing and makes the tactical missions more challenging, and thus more interesting.
Outside of the tactical missions is the strategic game. Here, the overworld map represents the entire world where the tactical missions take place. As you finish tactical missions, you unlock new areas to buy supplies for your units, which brings up the strategic and RPG gameplay elements. Each character you have in your motley band uses certain types of weapons or spells. Each weapon or spell class has different types and levels as well. It’s up to you to requisition pieces and parts. In addition, all weapons and spells have wear, so you need to replace them after a couple dozen uses.
It’s an interesting game to try to get the best weapons and spells in the hands of your best characters and try to build the most powerful heavy hitters, and can reap huge rewards in the tactical battles. Although I played on a low difficulty and never had trouble getting the best weapons available to me, I can imagine in higher difficulties the tough choices that might arise from not having the best weapons or the most resources to be able to equip your characters with the best things available. There might be some tough choices to make there, requiring you to operate at not as high of a level as possible.
Finally, the story for the game was immensely satisfying. The story was actually epic, and not the lame Internet version of epic, I mean the ancient Greece version of epic. The events encompassed huge areas, many kingdoms, time travel, ancient dragons, a huge cast of characters from past, present, and future, and threats to the entire world. The memorable characters undertook dangerous and worthwhile endeavors, and you rooted for them to come out on top even when things looked bleak. I was really invested in the characters and what happened to them, a rarity for games.
I couldn’t have been happier with Fire Emblem: Awakening. It was fun from start to finish, filled with interesting characters, challenging gameplay, and a satisfying ending. If you’re a fan of strategy games, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.