The Return of Fire Emblem

It has been 6 long years since the last decent fire emblem game. Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn (2007), the first N.A. sequel to a previous Fire Emblem game (Path of Radiance 2005). While FE (Fire Emblem) Shadow Dragon (2009) was a poor remake of the original Fire Emblem game and I do not consider it a worthy mention in the Fire Emblem series.

The next Fire Emblem game is titled "Awakening", and looks to be one of the best FE games to date. The game looks to have been incredibly improved on several aspects from past FE games. FE Shadow Dragon tried to change things up by acting as an easier game for new players to the series, unfortunately the game had chopped up most of the dialogue heavy story and removed the FE difficulty by replacing fallen comrades with new ones. While my hate for the last Fire Emblem should stay contained within a locked safe and shouldn't be touched with a ten meter pole, it helps show some light on where Intelligent Systems has decided to go with improving the FE formula.

I am very upset to learn that there is a 3DS bundle for the Fire Emblem game, as I really want it but already have a 3DS.

Awakening looks to stay with the classic Fire Emblem design, but looks make several improvements in certain areas. The New Fire Emblem is said to add more unique classes, while I do not know what this entirely means, lets look at how the previous FE games utilized new classes.
Fire Emblem - The only game to have the player be an actual character in the game, albeit only the essence of the tactician and not an actual usable character.

Fire Emblem Sacred Stones - Removed the useless player character. Introduced new 2nd tier classes with the ability to choose between 2 or 3 classes for leveling up. Added sub classes that could be labelled as tier 0.5, there were only three characters each belonging to mage, warrior and knight.

Fire Emblem Path of Radiance - Removed the items used to level up to 2nd tier and replaced the Dark Mages class with Wind Mages and removed custom choice 2nd tier classes, also removing the Dancer class which saddened me. Introduced a multiple of horse riding classes to replace the Ranger, as well as adding the soldier class. Introduced new race class of animals (Laguz).

Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn - Introduced a third tier of classes and trolled players with enemy Dark Mages but no playable Dark Mage class.

Fire Emblem Awakening appears to re-introduce the player as a character, but this time the player will be able to make a custom playable character, hopefully this custom character actually fits in with the story. I speculate that there will be two tiers of classes with an extra beginner sub class that was in the Sacred Stones game. Since they are offering more classes it seems plausible that you will be able to choose between classes for tier 2 level ups. From the character description on the official Fire Emblem site, I believe they are finally bringing back the Dark Mage, which has me jumping for joy. Additionally there are over 40 classes, introducing the return of the Troubadour, Ranger, Great Knight, Valkyrie, and my favourite Dancer. New classes include a Trickster class which seems to come from the Theif, a Griffon Rider, a Pegasus riding mage and more. The main characters of each Fire Emblem game have been of a different class, having given us rapier, axe, lance, and sword wielding lords from the first two FE games in N.A., mercenary leading hero of Path of Radiance and magic wielder of Radiant Dawn, It seems we will be getting another Ike mercenary leader for this one.

The game's story currently looks to be as big as Radiant Dawn/ Path of Radiance, with multiple nations and possible enemy rulers, the game could in fact look to be a new series with a possible sequel if it sells well. An interesting fact is there is a character known as Marth, who bears a mask; will this game be somehow tied to the past two Fire Emblem games? (FE released a sequel to Shadow Sword but it wasn't localized).

The combat appears to have increased the pace significantly, and looks to incorporate team attacks as you can strategically group units together and move them as one, or place units near others for team attacks. The game is also apparently 1-2 players, but I believe the game is only multiplayer in online battles. The Critical Hits were something I always enjoyed in terms of visuals, but after seeing the Critical animation for archers on the Trailer, it seems critical attacks might have been ignored for added spectacles. On a side note free DLC is available within a set period of time upon purchase, but the notion of more DLC will hopefully not feel like we are paying for content that should have been in the game at launch.

The visuals of the game represent the DS and Gameboy Advance graphics, but show wonderful 3D battles and cutscenes. The 3D models look to be the best for human figures, showing detail and colour whereas the past 3D games have been bland and low on quality. The game also shows some awesome animated videos as well as beautiful 2D images of the characters during dialogue. The actual 3D effect for the 3DS will hopefully stand out and make the game appear even greater looking, but that is hard to judge without having the actual game. Another thing to note is the added voice casting, while the game isn't totally voiced, there are a few words and emotions that are voiced for each character during dialogue, which will offer a greater sense of the characters and their personalities, they even talk during combat which is a nice added feature.

Romance and Relationships have been given a huge boost as we will finally be able to see increase in relations between allies and what looks to be a more intricate system for allowing characters to increase their fondness and friendship level. The game also announces that character relations can reach marriage, whether or not it will be a deeper experience than a quick 2D dialogue remains to be seen.

Overall this new Fire Emblem game has the best art that looks and feels new and fresh, the game appears to have been developed to try and be the best FE game to date, and I certainly cannot wait for it to be released on Feb 4th.