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Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii) Review

Review for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn was released on the Wii in 2008 and is a direct sequel to the GameCube instalment, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. The series is developed by Intelligent Systems and is loved by many fans for being one of the best Strategy RPG franchises out there. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance marked the series’ first step into the world of 3D graphics while still keeping the familiar strategic gameplay. Did Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn manage to surpass it? Read on to find out.

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, being a direct sequel, keeps the same universe and is set on the continent Tellius that is inhabited by humans known as Beorcs and a race called Laguz, which are humanoid creatures that can transform into powerful wild beasts. The game begins three years after the events of Path of Radiance with two new protagonists named Micaiah and Sothe. They are leading a rebel group named the Dawn Brigade in the empire that lost a recent war and are trying to regain the freedom of their country, which is ruled by the occupation forces of the victorious faction. The story is divided into four parts, and changes perspective between different factions within the continent of Tellius. This is something that’s very unusual for the series, as you usually follow the protagonist and his constantly growing amount of companions throughout the entire game but it’s a nice approach and the different perspectives make the story a lot more enjoyable.

The four parts of the game are split into several chapters, each containing one battle scenario with dialogue before and after it. Before jumping into battle with an army of enemies, preparation can be made in the base. Here, weapons and items can be bought, equipped on the characters, and it is also possible to view various interesting conversations that offer some backstory, hints on the upcoming situation, or sometimes even useful free items. Bonus Experience can also be distributed to characters, mostly to those who are too weak to earn it in battle yet. Additionally, there is another preparation opportunity right before starting a battle scenario, where the situation can be observed and the choice made to go back to the base, if needed.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Once ready, players are presented with a scenario with varying goals, such as killing all enemies on the map, killing a boss, seizing a crucial location or defending a certain area for a specified number of turns. The map is split into square spaces and during each turn the characters can move a number of spaces dependent on their class and the terrain. Once within attack range, which is usually right next to an enemy for melee units or one space away for ranged units, they can choose to engage the enemy. A small summary indicating the HP, hit percentage and critical hit percentage of both parties appears before confirming a move, which is very helpful as one of the series’ trademark features is permanent death. If one of the characters is defeated in battle, they will be gone for good. This feature adds a lot of challenge to the game as there is no chance to just recklessly send units into battle and instead have to plan ahead. However, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn goes overboard with the difficulty for all the wrong reasons.

Since the game is split into four parts where there is chance to control different characters, often players will find themselves with a huge amount of completely useless units that can’t even take on one enemy alone. These situations cause some frustrating difficulty spikes during chapters where there is no choice but to use them. There is a new battle save feature that freely allows the chance to save and reset the game when things go wrong, but it can’t be relied on it since one wrong move can cause one or multiple of character deaths in the next few turns. If the battle save is used, afterwards there is no way to prevent it from happening anymore, then the player is left either having to deal with the bitter loss, or do a full restart of the chapter in its entirety. Despite some inevitable frustration, the gameplay still proves to be incredibly addictive and deep, but only for players dedicated enough to persevere.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn brings a number of changes and additions to the series. The skill system from the previous game has been vastly improved by letting players swap skills between characters instead of them being locked to the characters they are given to. The Laguz units from Path of Radiance make an appearance in this game as well, but unfortunately they are still not very useful compared to the human race. Weapon crafting also returns and it’s much more accessible than in the previous game. The game allows for power, accuracy, critical hit rate and weight of a weapon to be increased or decrease and, as an added bonus, players can even customise its colour. Support conversations between units are still present in this game, but unfortunately they have been reduced to idle chatter instead of more personal, sometimes deep, conversations between specific pairs of characters.

New to the series are third tier promotions. Each class previously had a stronger version, for example an Archer becoming a Sniper, but now they can be promoted a second time and become even more powerful in the process. Each final class obtains a skill unique to the class upon promotion and it usually gives the unit a chance to deal triple the amount of damage, which is enough to kill just about every regular enemy. The feeling of seeing those once weak and helpless units you carefully trained over numerous chapters turn into badass killing machines is extremely satisfying and makes up a big part of the overall enjoyment obtained from this game. There aren’t any new Wii-specific controls, but they really would have been surplus to requirements since the game can be enjoyed with standards controls, and the developer should be commended for not adding any just for the sake of it. The game can be played with the Wii Remote alone, a Classic Controller or a GameCube controller.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The game uses a modified version of the engine used in Path of Radiance and it definitely shows. Character models look decent but still leave something to be desired. The same can be said about the numerous maps. Thankfully, there are some redeeming factors such as a few amazing looking FMVs, great character design and battle animations, beautiful 2D anime character art and a slick overall presentation. The soundtrack is appropriately epic, even if it’s not quite as memorable as the work found in its predecessor. The English voice acting, which is almost exclusive to the FMVs, is good, but nothing overly special.

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is one massive game, with its 45 chapters easily lasting 50 hours or more. It also features an Easy, Normal and Hard mode. The Easy mode is the same as the Normal mode but the game makes sure to teach newcomers how to play the game with plenty of tutorials. It is still possible to look at the tutorials in Normal mode, though. Hard mode is only recommended for complete masochists as enemies are even harder and more numerous but, most importantly, the battle save feature has been disabled. This sadly doesn’t add genuine challenge, as it only makes the game much more time consuming and frustrating.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Fire Emblem’s extremely addictive Strategy RPG formula is more refined than ever. Sadly, it traded genuine challenge for unfair difficulty spikes, which makes it a rather frustrating experience for anyone apart from the most dedicated fans of the series.

Graphics

While it is a noticeable improvement over its GameCube predecessor, it simply can’t compare to a lot of other great looking Wii games. A few redeeming qualities, such as great character design and art or a few amazing looking FMVs, try to make up for it, but the visuals are still by far the weakest aspect of the overall package.

Sound

The soundtrack is appropriately epic and fits the theme and story of the game extremely well. The voice acting, while good, isn’t anything overly special, but you won’t be hearing any for the vast majority of the game anyway.

Value

With its 45 chapters and an average playtime of 50 hours or more, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is anything but short and should keep any gamer busy for a long time. There aren’t any extras or side-quests as they wouldn’t fit the progression of the game, yet additional play-throughs using different characters and strategies can make for quite a different experience.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is another successful entry in the series and retains the highly addictive, deep and strategic gameplay the series is known for. If you are a dedicated Fire Emblem fan, then this is the game for you. Newcomers to Fire Emblem will likely be turned off by its extreme difficulty and should check out other entries in the series, such as Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on GameCube or Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance, instead.

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16.04.2012

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Developer

Intelligent Systems

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (38 Votes)

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Senior ModeratorStaff MemberOur member of the week

I remember enjoying Path of Radiance to bits on the GC - my first and only FE game. Always wanted to play this one since it's a direct sequel, but these sort of games require a fair amount of dedication... something I can't quite find enough of when I get free time.

I'd like to eventually get around to this, though. Apart from showing tutorials, can you tell us if Easy mode makes things easier in actual battles? Less enemies, less enemy HP, more ally Str, etc? I tend to play games I want to blitz through on Easy modes to get through them as quickly as possible. Top review!

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My first FE and I loved it!!! After that I played Path of Radiance (Smilie) and Shadow Dragon (Smilie), but they weren't as good as Radiant Dawn.

I really hope Nintendo will make another FE in this style. Smaller battles, within cities instead of on huge fields.

Picked it up in GAME the other week for £7, haven't got round to playing it yet, in fact i still have FE: POR sitting on my shelf!

I think it's long life is its detriment to me, i loved the GBA versions because they filled the gaps in train/plane journeys or where i was, but i am not sure i could just sit at home and play the strategy game, hence why they will sit there and collect dust. At least they are games that appreciate in value!

( Edited 16.04.2012 23:11 by Azuardo )

Azuardo said:
Apart from showing tutorials, can you tell us if Easy mode makes things easier in actual battles? Less enemies, less enemy HP, more ally Str, etc?
Yes. Easy is just a walk in the park....

It was my first FE and I played it on Normal. Because I'm a hoarder, I didn't let a single character die and I made sure my dream team was mighty powerful.
That's why the last 1/4 of the game was a total bore for me. Smilie I didn't have any more characters that could die to the enemies!
So from now on, I'll probably play FEs on hard difficulty. The challenge makes these games so good!
(On the other hand... having to restart levels takes SO much time. I ended up playing RD for 150 hours or so... Smilie)

I got the game for €10, one of my best buys ever!

Staff Member

@Azuardo: Thanks for bringing that up! Apparently the information on the Fire Emblem Wiki, which I used as my main source of information for all the Fire Emblem games I've played, was wrong/misleading about the Easy mode in Radiant Dawn. The wiki is usually very reliable, so I believed that and didn't play it on Easy Mode myself. From the comments I've read on some forums, Easy Mode actually does make things a lot easier, too easy, in fact. There are less enemies and reinforcements, they have lower stats and your troops get a ridiculous amount of EXP compared to Normal Mode. With that, you could probably get third tier units a lot earlier and destroy everything that stands in your way. That would obviously make clearing maps a lot quicker and save you countless resets, but in return there'd be no challenge whatsoever. I personally couldn't play through it like that, but if it makes the game more appealing to play through for you, you could give it a shot.

That said, I'd still recommend Path of Radiance or Fire Emblem on the GBA over Radiant Dawn on Easy Mode because those provide a fair challenge instead of having to choose between way too easy and way too hard.

@Canyarion: I've played Shadow Dragon as well and that game made it very apparent just how much some later additions add to the experience. Not a bad game, but it stands no chance against all three GBA games or Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn.

Canyarion said:
Because I'm a hoarder, I didn't let a single character die and I made sure my dream team was mighty powerful.
That's why the last 1/4 of the game was a total bore for me. Smilie I didn't have any more characters that could die to the enemies!
So from now on, I'll probably play FEs on hard difficulty. The challenge makes these games so good!
(On the other hand... having to restart levels takes SO much time. I ended up playing RD for 150 hours or so... Smilie)

Seems like you beat me to it.Smilie

I'm actually like that too when it comes to playstyle, maybe slightly more obsessive. I basically had a look at every character in the game and their stats before even playing and checked how many character slots you had for your final team. Based on that, I chose my dream team in advance and gave them an insane amount of attention, so much that most of them maxed out just about every stat on Lvl20 third tier. Most of them, I could easily send into an army of enemies all alone and they would kill everything taking next to no damage. Fun times. Smilie

( Edited 16.04.2012 23:50 by SirLink )

 

Well, I'm glad you did the official research. Smilie I just used my memory (my sisters started playing it on easy).

Funny by the way, it's a hardcore game, but my sister who rarely plays games realy loved it! I guess it's because of the story?

I never tried the AGB ones, but my brother loved the first one. Hm if he has it, I should borrow it!

Edit: one last thing! Hard mode doesn't have the 'battle-save'. Smilie It's old style hardcore FE! I think Normal mode still had the battle-save. If it didn't, I apparently played it on Easy... but I can't imagine I did.

I would have loved to post my final team, but it's too long ago to remember. And I played PoR after that, so I'm confused. I do know that I hated the Laguz... no weapons, no tiers... hardly any personality.

( Edited 16.04.2012 23:58 by Canyarion )

Staff Member

Canyarion said:
I never tried the AGB ones, but my brother loved the first one. Hm if he has it, I should borrow it!

You should definitely try the GBA ones, especially the first one. They are very similar in style and gameplay, except for The Sacred Stones which has some additions like repeatable skirmishes or branching promotions.

I should mention that the first of the GBA games, called Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi, never saw an international release, so that's why I was talking about three GBA games before.

Edit: Yep, I played it on Normal mode and had a lot of 'fun' (ab)using the battle save and resetting over and over again. Smilie Granted, a fair amount of resets were in order to ensure that my chosen characters got plenty of level-ups with excellent stat growths.

I'm with you on the Laguz. They are a bit better than they were in Path of Radiance but still completely useless compared to Beorcs. The only good thing about them are



( Edited 17.04.2012 00:16 by SirLink )

 

As much of a fan of Ike I am, I gotta say I'm not a RD fan. The difficulty seemed so unfair compared to any of the other games(including only the games released in the US).

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