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Fire Emblem: Awakening progress

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Found a copy at my local Wallyworld, which was no small matter, as the game is out of stock on pretty much every online site and most retailers. I just finished Chapter 6 this morning -- had to play as soon as I woke up. It's one of those games -- you know, the kind that keep you up at night thinking about it; the kind you wake up thinking about how you want to build your characters up when you start playing again.

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That's Donnel up there. He's a villager you meet early on in the game. I hear he gets pretty beefy as you level him up, so I'm throwing him into the fray as often as possible.

The game is really great so far...and hard as hell, at least in terms of keeping everyone alive. I'm playing on Hard difficulty in Classic mode, so if a unit dies, they stay dead like they would in previous FE games.

And I have to say, the criticisms regarding grinding for levels and re-classing for endless stat boosts have been grossly exaggerated. Perhaps in Normal mode things are much easier, but you don't get free access to Second Seals (to re-class) 'til much later in the game, and it's hard to grind even the "easiest" sidequests, as the enemies can still send your units to the hereafter. Gameplay-wise, Fire Emblem is still very much intact. It just has a ton more to offer now.

Unfortunately, the story is very..."Tales of." Don't get me wrong, Tales of Symphonia is one of my all-time favorite games, but that series generally has a lot of silliness and plot devices that are a complete departure from realistic social situations. Awakening has a lot of that too. However, the actual plot is quite compelling. Chapter 6 was a good set-up to get you wanting more, in spite of the ridiculous premise.

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But the game does have a good sense of humor, I'll give it that. This is a Support scene. When you battle together, you raise the bond of relationship between characters. I'm trying to hook up Sumia and Chrom so they'll marry and have a kid. Sumia is really into Chrom, so it seems like a natural pairing.

The game has a lot of other, really cool features. The WiFi stuff comes with a boatload of downloadable fan service. The DLC maps should really satisfy anyone who's been into the series for a while. It's like a "greatest hits" of Fire Emblem. Great stuff.

Haven't really played on my 3DS or touched it much at all for months -- pretty much since Resident Evil Revelations -- so it's nice to have another really good reason to pick the system up.

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