A worthy entry in the Fire Emblem series, Radiant Dawn retains the series' fantastic gameplay, minor faults included.
As Fire Emblem fans should know, Radiant Dawn takes place three years after 2005's Gamecube game Path of Radiance. The setting is still in the land of Tellius and just about every character from PoR makes a return. The story opens with you controlling the Dawn Brigade who are trying to end oppression in the country of Daein from the supposedly evil country of Begnion. I'd rather not go and farther into detail as it would be far too easy to spoil the story. There are four parts to the story, each of which vary in length and the party you control changes throughout the story (which leads to some pretty wacky moments, explained later in this review). The story overall stays strong, but there are definitely moments in the story as well as characters that are uninteresting or just silly, especially compared to the other games in the series.
The gameplay in Radiant Dawn retains exactly what the series is known for: hardcore, strategic gameplay. Some of the mistakes you make will truly make you feel responsible for the death of a character (who do not comeback after being defeated, a FE staple) or something else entirely. Other times, however, you feel so relieved after defeating a boss and beating a level. For the most part, RD retains the masterful gameplay of the series, but there are some strange faults that might turn off some fans. For starters, throughout the game you control different teams, sometimes switching from one team to another chapter next to chapter. This becomes annoying as you will have one team completely inexperienced and weak while another team is strong because you have used them in more levels. Heck, sometimes you end up fighting the team you just played as in the previous chapter. Yeah, it's pretty crazy. Another problem is the difficulty level. Even on Normal mode, the game is absolutely brutal at times, and you WILL become frustrated. I haven't played it on Easy mode or Hard mode, but I can't imagine these other modes straying too far from the challenge of Normal mode. While a challenge is always nice, RD just takes it a little too far and even seasoned veterans will find themselves frustrated. Also keep in mind that the game will take at least a good 40 hours to complete, giving the game a great value.
The Fire Emblem series isn't necessarily known for standout graphics as all of the games simple go for a generally good look. Radiant Dawn could have been a little bit better. It's definitely nothing special on the Wii, and really, it's only a little bit improved over it's Gamecube predecessor. The cutscenes, however, are some of the best looking on the system. Absolutely gorgeous FMV work mixes with a cool art style for some of the most fantastic looking cutscenes on any system. Also, the artwork, which appears throughout the game, is very well done.
The music in RD is as good as every other game in the series. The soundtrack has a very epic feel. The music ranges from heavy battle drums to the tranquil sound of the night. Also in the sound department, the voice acting is great, especially compared to the PoR voice acting, which wasn't so hot.
Radiant Dawn is a worthy entry in the Fire Emblem series of games. The story is fantastically epic and and the music is incredibly moving at times. The gameplay is, for the most part, as good as it's ever been. However, some minor faults hold it down from being as great as it should have been. Radiant Dawn is worth a purchase for all FE fans, but newcomers may want to rent it first to see what they're getting into.