Another Fire Emblem. Well done indeed, though not near as perfect as I hoped it to be. All aspects are discussed. Enjoy!

User Rating: 8.3 | Fire Emblem: Souen no Kiseki GC
First of all, this is pretty thorough, so don't expect a small summary.

The Story:
Without spoiling too much, it's about:

Ike, who lives with a band of mercenaries led by his father in a Country called Crimea. Still learning, he is ambitious and idolizes his father Greil.
Early in the game Crimea is attacked by Daein, their neighboring country. The capitol is overrun and the princess flees and fate decides for her to cross paths with the mercenaries. Who decide to help her in her quest for justice and the restoration of her country.

- Most of the GBA classes have returned. Swordmasters, Paladins, Falcon Knights etc. Classes I missed though were Hero and Druid/Necromancer, two of my favorites. More on Druid/Necromancer later.
- New to Fire Emblem are the Laguz; units that are half human and half beast. They can't fight in their human form, but are deadly in their beast form. They need to charge up to transform, and change back after this energy bar is drained, so another strategy point added to the series. This also means new classes; generally being: Beasts, Birds, Dragons. Each having it's strengths and of course weaknesses.
- Units that reach level 21 change classes, in the GBA games you were (often) given the choice between two classes to advance to. This has changed and your character will automatically evolve to his/her next class. This is one of the points that disappointed me greatly, since the many options you have is one of the things that makes FE so great. Also new is the fact that they automatically change at lvl21, where you used to collect items to make them change classes. There are a few Master Seals in the game that will let you change classes after lvl10, though this is usually not advised, because you will lose 10 levels and level ups (more on this later).

The Gameplay:
Fire Emblem is turn based. Your units each have 'movement' meaning how many squares they can advance on the battle map. When in reach they can attack. All classes have their own weapons they can use, and other specialties. Like character that do a lot of damage, or others who have high Defense, so they can act a shield for weaker units.
Choosing and training a balanced team is important if you want to beat the game. When your done with your turn, you end it. And the opponent will have his turn, and so on.
Clearing missions can involve several things, like; defeating all enemies, defeating the boss, seizing a spot on the map (can only be done by Ike), or Arriving/escaping at a spot on the map, stuff like that.

Weapon / Magic use:
The Weapons Triangle returns, meaning:
Swords beat Axes, Lances beat Swords and Axes beat Lances.
So wisely using this knowledge is a part of the strategy as well as the choice of your team at the start of every chapter.
There is also a Magic Triangle (wind, fire, lightning) :
making a similar triangle. Next to that, each type is effective against a type of laguz.
This magic replaces the Light/Anima/Dark triangle. This doesn't make my really happy. The new magic types all three can be used by mages, while the old magic types each had it's class (Though a sage could use both light and anima, but I'm not going into that). Light does still have it's own class, being Bishop. Light is unaffected by the triangle, say a neutral kind of magic. Dark magic isn't given a place in Path of Radiance, so there are no Druids or Necromancers, which I regret saying. In short, putting all magic into one class, narrows the strategy which is not a good thing IMO. But this way you can limit the number of characters you need for an effective team.

The attacker gets the first attack, after that the opponent will retaliate. Damage depends on stats and weapon match-ups. So it's obvious to plan your attacks out at the beginning of your turn. A character with a normal sword equipped will be disadvantages when you attack with a lance and will not be able to retaliate at all if attacked with a bow. This is another point of strategy in the game. Weapon match-ups.
When HP hits 0 the character dies.
But pay attention!!! For the newbies playing Fire Emblem. When a character of your own dies, he will be gone. He won't return the next chapter or later. So then you have 2 options. Continue without the character or restart the chapter.
Only exception is Ike. Ike can't die or you will have to restart the chapter.

Experience and level-up:
When a character fights (attack and defense), a character gains experience, depending on the opponent and the current level of your character. When a character's EXP bar gets to 100, the character rises a level. This (usually) means your stats rise, these level ups are based on luck, so you can improve on a lot of points or sometimes even none. The stats are:
HP, Strength, Magic, Skill, Speed, Luck, Defense, Resistance.
There are limited items that can increase these stats without gaining a level.
Also new to Fire Emblem is Bonus Experience. How much you gain depends on how well you did the mission. Bonus experienced can be given to units when you are at your Base (between chapters).

The weapons:
Every type of weapon has several types. So there is more than 1 sword, 1 axe etc. Each weapon has it's own properties. Like damage, hit%, critical chance, weight and range.
Damage and hit% are obvious.
-Critical: The chance you do a critical (meaning 3x damage)
- Weight: If Str is too low, the weight will slow your character down
- Range: also obvious. Like bows have range 2 (can only hit from 2 squares away), and a Iron Sword has range 1 (melee combat).

When you are at Base, you can stock up new weapons. And also trade or give weapons to your units.
New to this game is Forging Weapons. For a price you can customize your own weapons at Base, for a price of course.
This is a new feature which was to me a pleasant surprise.

Same as before, characters can have support conversations with each other. In this game this can occur at your base, when you activate them. Whereas in the GBA games, these were done on the battlefield.
Supporting characters mean that they give each other a bonus on stats when they are next to each other on the battlefield, this is different between every compatible couple of support characters.
There are three support levels: C, B and A (A being the strongest). Every character can only have 5 support conversations, so again you need to make choices.
IMO the support system in PoR kinda sucks. Most characters have little choices and those choices are often not really good. Again a con of this game, but a forgivable one. Supports aren't that important anyway. Although the conversations do let you know more about the characters and are even funny sometimes.

Also new to FE is the Skill system. This is one of the greatest improvements IMO. Every character has Skill capacity which can be filled with Skills. Which are abilities that can be assigned (or removed) to characters, although some characters already have skills when you recruit them. You can assign them by using skill scrolls, so these skills are limited. Some examples: Vantage (always attack first), Adept (a chance of getting an extra attack) etc.
There are a lot of different skills which makes the game more interesting. In the game are 4 occults scrolls, which can be used to assign 4 master skills depending on the class you assign it too. Choices, Choices..

The great thing about Fire Emblem!
There are a lot of classes to choose from. And for most classes you have several characters to choose from. Therefore also several strategies. If you select a lot of high movement units, you can try and storm the mission. Or do you want to work slow and with healers and long-range units. It's all possible. You don't like a character, no problem. Another unit with the same class will come along and you can replace him (as long as it isn't Ike). Though sometimes characters come late in the game and are not as good as you would want them to be.
Every character can carry 4 weapons and 4 items. Your choice what to fill those slots with. What will be affective? and in what situations?
You can try a lot of different tactics. All you need to do is figure out what works best for you.

So much for the general information. Let's get to rating!

The units are (mostly) balanced and the missions pretty challenging. The combat system is made greatly. You really need to think before you move, or you will lose character and eventually fail the mission.
There are countless options to clear a mission. And it's all there for you to decide how. And there are a lot of missions to clear, each with different situations, keeping the game interesting.
There is a little luck involved, being with hit%, criticals etc. That takes a little away from the strategy. But that isn't really a bad thing, it keeps a little excitement in the game.
This Fire Emblem has a great gameplay, just like it's predecessors. And is certainly to be praised for it.

Graphics are not great, but not bad. They are pretty good for this sort of game. The in-game movies look even better. Don't expect to be blown away by the graphics, but it is certainly good enough for a game like this.
What brings me to the battle animations. I expected more of this, the standard attacks are kind of boring. The critical attack do look stunning most of the time, and some skill attack do to.
But the developers could've done a lot more with this. Again this is not essential, but it would certainly be a treat, and make the game even less boring.

There is no voice acting in this game, except for in the in-game movies. Personally I'm not bothered by this.
The game has a lot of songs, each song having it's place. Like some are songs played during battles or some songs belong to a certain character or moment. Like the Black Knight, who is Ike's rival, has it's own song.
Also the sounds that come with weapons also sound good. Good sound overall

As I said before, this game has limitless options. Which makes the Replay Value really high. You can do a lot of different things on another playthrough. Other characters, other name it. It has three difficulties, although I would advise to skip easy, if you have any confidence in your strategic abilities.
I think you will spend around 80 hours with this, if you will beat Normal and Hard mode, and after that some trial maps. It also depends on your way of playing. Personally I don't let any of my characters die, so it will take me longer than someone who doesn't care about that. If you are addicted and want to unlock everything, it will take much longer. As the final secret character will be unlocked after finishing story mode 15 times.. 0_o
I didn't review 'Sacred Stones', but that would definitely get a higher Value rating from me. The main reason for this is the post-game options.
After you finish the story, there is little to do, but to re-do the story mode.
There are a few trial maps, but those are not really interesting to do. These are played with the team you finished the story mode with. You don't gain experience anymore, nor is there anything to gain from these missions. Well, next to some fun clearing them. This is the greatest con of this Fire Emblem IMO. So it 'only' gets a 8/10 from me.

Great game, and I had a lot of fun playing it. Some things were improved some things got worse. I just hope the next Fire Emblem will improve those bad points and really be a classic.
If I must compare; it's most similar to Advance Wars, but I do prefer the Fire Emblem series, because it has more depth and strategy.
If you liked the other Fire Emblem games, you will like this. If you didn't like other FEs, you probably won't like this. Simple as that.
It's worthy of the Fire Emblem series and definitely a game to check out if your a fan of turn-based strategy.