Fire Emblem: Awakening is one of the best 3DS games to date and a possible GOTY contender! Find out why here:

User Rating: 10 | Fire Emblem: Kakusei 3DS
The Fire Emblem series has found its niche market in the West. Tactical role-playing games are niche in general. You never see masses of people playing them. One reason for this is their usual hard difficulty. It's hard to get into a game if it's unrelenting. I, too, find these games hard to play but I persevere. I'm no expert on the series or tactical RPGs in general having only played the previous two console Fire Emblem games. However, this game easily blows those two games out of the water. Heck, this is one of the best games I have played in a long time. Why is it so great? Well let me explain:

Story:
You'll find your standard medieval story here but what makes this story so interesting is its many plot twists which prevents it from being overly predictable. You wake up one day with no memory but are found by a Shepherd named Chrom. Chrom enlists you in the Shepherds after seeing your tactical prowess. However, things quickly go awry when zombie-like creatures called Risen begin popping up all over the land. As you delve deeper into the story, you'll find the games' primary focus is love and relationships. Support conversations are unlocked as your characters fight together on the battlefield and these are stories all on their own. I found myself pairing up people on the battlefield just to see what they would say in their support conversations. Some are funny, some are serious but they help develop each character so this way they're not just some random unit on the battlefield. That's one thing the Fire Emblem series does well; you feel attached to each character as they progress throughout the story. The loss of a character through the series' signature permadeath (though you can turn it off) will, more often than not, cause you to reset the level out of fear of losing not only the person's abilities but also losing the character themselves. While prior games did this well, Fire Emblem: Awakening takes it to a whole new level thanks to its focus on relationships. As units' relationships grow, they give better and better stat boosts when put side-by-side together on the battlefield. I'm also not just talking about friendship here: there's also marriage! Now, there's another interesting part of the story but I'll leave it out for spoilers' sake but to make things short, your characters can have kids and then later, those kids will fight in your army. I wish games would do this kind of thing more often. But anyway to wrap things up: a great story with plenty of plot twists and excellent character development.

Gameplay:
I already kind of talked about the gameplay in the story section but I'll explain in greater detail. The game is broken up into chapters, the main story segments, and paralogues, side stories that can be undertaken whenever you wish. You move your characters in a grid map, taking turns with the enemy. There are usually two main objectives: kill all the enemies or kill the enemy general. There are occasional side objectives depending on the level. These objectives can be: recruiting a new character, saving a merchant, or assisting an allied team. Now, there are three difficulty levels and two ways to play. There's your standard easy, normal and hard mode (with an unlocked super hard mode) and then there's casual and classic mode. Casual mode is meant for newcomers to the series or people who just want to experience the story. Casual mode turns off permadeath so this way when your characters lose all their HP, they return for the next battle. Classic mode is the standard Fire Emblem game: units that are defeated are lost forever and cannot be used again. While some Fire Emblem fans lament the inclusion of Casual mode, I think this makes the game more accessible for Fire Emblem or TRPG newcomers. As I mentioned before, these types of games are hard for those who are not used to them. For those who like tactical RPG or RPGs in general, this is your game.

Presentation:
This is one of the best looking games on the 3DS. The character models are done very well, backgrounds are believable, and the voice acting talent is really good. I played the game using the Japanese audio track and I was shocked at some of the voice acting talent they got. Nintendo got some of anime's most well-known voice actors in both English and Japanese. Some of the Japanese ones include: Tomokazu Sugita (Kyon from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) as Chrom, Miyuki Sawashiro (Kurapika from Hunter X Hunter 2011) as Avatar (female) and Morgan (female), and Daisuke Ono (Itsuki Koizumi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) as Frederick. A few of the English ones: Wendee Lee (Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop) as Avatar (female), Michelle Ruff (Tsukasa Hiiragi from Lucky Star) as Avatar (female) and Noire, and Stephanie Sheh (Yui Hirasawa from K-On!) as Tharja and Kjelle. Except for the lack of feet, the character models are great and full of detail. Each movement is fluid and the pain on each characters face as they're low on health makes you feel bad for getting them that low. The cutscenes are done by renowned animation studio Madhouse (Death Note, Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura) and they're a real spectacle to watch especially in 3D. It's too bad there are not more of them though.

Overall:
If you need a reason to go out and buy a 3DS, this game is it. Unless you're not a fan of great stories and characters, deep and engaging gameplay, or one of the better looking and sounding portable games out there. As a matter of fact, there's yet another reason to go and grab this game along with a 3DS: there's a bundle out for it! So what are you waiting for? Go out and grab this game, plunk yourself down on your coach and enjoy!
I'm Sniper-Gamer and I rate Fire Emblem: Awakening a 10 out of 10.
I hope you found this review helpful!

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