After I had finished my playthrough and review of Fire Emblem Fates, my interest in Fire Emblem: Awakening, began to peak. I avoided playing the game for a good chunk of time because I was still in school and I was much too busy to put the time into a game as long as Fire Emblem. As more time passed, my interest in the game began to grow even more, finally reaching its tipping point when a few friends of mine told me that Awakening was superior to Fates. Bombarded with all of these recommendations, I finally decided to get the game and play it during the holiday break and I have to admit it is a far stronger title than Fates.
Before all of you Fates fans start freaking out on me, give me chance to explain myself here. I would like to say that yes, Awakening is a superior title to Fates, but it only exceeds it in certain areas, I want to make this distinction clear because both games utilize identical gameplay mechanics with their differences being only subtle, therefore I have no complaints about Awakening’s gameplay as a whole.
For those of you who don’t know, Awakening, like any other Fire Emblem, is a tactical role-playing game that requires you to consider various factors to win battles. These factors range from selecting the right weapons to dish out lots of damage or altering the classes of your units to make them more formidable on the battlefield. To give some context, units who ride on flying mounts are weak against bows and units that use magic tomes do more damage against units in heavy armor.
The game also uses what is called a Weapon Triangle that basically works like a sophisticated form of rock-paper-scissors, where swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords. It is also important to consider how far units can move on the map because it will help you to determine if an offensive or defensive strategy needs to be employed. Don’t take the strategy in this game lightly, every decision you make both on and off the battlefield really does count. Once you start to get the hang of Awakening’s mechanics it starts to become really addicting and before you know it you will be breezing through battles, trying to level up your all of your units. Furthermore, building friendships between units is extremely important and it is done by pairing them up during combat. Pairing up units consistently grants them stat boosts and increases their affinity for one another, resulting in some interesting surprises.
Now, let me clue you all into Awakening’s premise. The game is set in a kingdom called Ylisse 2,000 years after the events of the very first Fire Emblem where Chrom, a descendant of Marth and prince of Ylisse, travels with his rag-tag band of warrior pals called the Shepherds and discovers the player character passed out in the middle of a field with no memory about his/her past. The amnesiac player character then joins Chrom’s Shepherds in their battle against evil kings and creepy undead creatures called Risen.
On top of that, the player character can mingle with the various soldiers in Chrom’s army, building friendships with every individual. Like always, you can customize the player character in anyway you see fit. Unlike Fates, Awakening’s character creation does not offer a lot of aesthetic options which is not to bothersome unless you like to take your time creating a dumb or cool looking character.
If there is one area where I think Awakening surpasses Fates, it is in its plot and characters. I felt that Awakening has more memorable characters than Fates. I attribute their memorability to their vibrant personalities and the fascinating conversations that they have with one another. It is the emotion in Awakening’s characters that makes them fun to listen to, their resolve to continue fighting in a world that is on the verge of total annihilation is really poignant and I found myself actually caring about their cause. The game even does a good job in creating empathetic villains that you feel legitimately sorry for.
Another area where Awakening exceeds Fates is in the usefulness of its units. In my Fates review, I criticized the units you have access to because many of them become near useless by the time you reach the later parts of the game. In Awakening, every unit becomes useful at some point and I found myself using every one of them far more than in Fates. I also took a lot of pleasure in altering their classes to make them even stronger. There is nothing more satisfying than scoring a critical hit on an enemy that does a whopping 200 damage. Awakening, also has more missions than Fates and best of all you do not have to spend loads of gold to unlock challenges which was something I found be incredibly annoying in Fates.
A problem I have with Awakening is its lengthy dialogue. I know I sound like a hypocrite after I just got done saying how much I love the conversations between characters, but there are some moments where the dialogue just goes on and on. Thankfully, this is not a major issue as you can easily skip conversations by pressing the start button or by mashing the A button. Another problem is the world map, every location is forgettable and you have to scramble like a maniac all over the map until you find the right store that sells the goods you need.
I don’t mean to bash on Fates in this review, Fates is a good game in its own right, and although Awakening has less features than Fates, it does every one of those features flawlessly. From its strategic gameplay, to its memorable character roster, and its unforgettable soundtrack. Awakening has shaped itself into a classic Fire Emblem game in recent years and it definitely lives up to its reputation. It is the perfect starting point for anyone who has never played or heard of Fire Emblem before and I strongly recommend it for everyone, even to those who are not into real-time strategy. Just a word of warning to all of you dear readers: don’t make the same mistake I did, start with this game first then move on to Fates if you really want to.
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