Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube) Review

By Matthew Evans 14.02.2006

When it comes to 2D to 3D transitions there aren't many better than Nintendo. With the likes of SEGA still having problems getting Sonic into 3D while keeping the game true to the soul of the 2D version we all fell in love with, Nintendo has successfully brought Mario, Zelda, and Samus into the 3rd dimension. Is the Fire Emblem series about to join them in the hallowed Hall of Fame or sit in the naughty corner with Pikachu? Read on to find out...

If you have read or played the previous two handheld Fire Emblem games then you have a good idea of what to expect. Very little has changed between Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and the two Game Boy outings that have hit the West, the most visible change being the graphics, which are not that much to write home about. Even the FMV, as good as it is, is quite short and this quality has been done and been bettered on both rival consoles. And the cel-shaded aspect of the graphics allows the character designs, which range from poor to great, to keep their anime style but unfortunately at the expense of detail. Units such as Generals and Paladins, with their bolder schemes, look good but units such as the Wyvern Lord look washed out and featureless. With regards to the audio it has ticked all the right boxes but because so many other Japanese games have done the same the music fails to stand out. It is good but it does not make much impact on the game whether you have the volume turned up or simply set to mute.

The game plays pretty much identically to the rules set down by the previous titles, the pre-existing weapon and magic triangle remaining untouched, but with a game mechanic that strikes such a good balance between ease of use tactical mastering that it is a good thing they haven't changed it. There are three important alterations though; the main change to the fighting is the inclusion of a new race called the Laguz, who bring an extra tactical depth with them. Laguz are extremely powerful, yet can only attack while in animal form; with the change between human and animal form is governed by a change meter. When it fills up you become an unstoppable animal and when it empties you revert back to a more vulnerable human form. However, whilst in human form they do not suffer from the species-specific vulnerabilities; dragons take extra damage from lightning, hawks from arrows or wind magic, for example. The addition of the Shove command is also a welcome one, as it allows you to barge weaker infantry, friend or foe, a space away from another unit. As well as removing them from the attack range of an enemy it can also be used to achieve other goals. If I told you what these uses were then that would spoil half the fun. The third is the inclusion of Skills, these are extra powers with which you can upgrade and customise your units. Fed up of having your weak magicians being killed by Snipers before they have a chance to retaliate? Then give them the Vantage skill and watch as they fight first in every combat. There is a limit to how many skills each unit can have so they do not become overpowered, but the right choice of skills can make that useless unit you always left at home becoming an essential part to your army.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on GameCube

The time between missions hasn't changed much either, as after every battle you are greeted with some story progression. The plot is, on the surface, your standard fare of an evil king attacks the kingdom you are in, you encounter a mysterious girl the invaders are hunting for and get thrust into a huge war where your band of nobodies have to defeat the evil king before something cataclysmic happens. Now, before you start yawning, the plot and story is one of the game's saving graces. As you go from mission to mission you realise that there is more depth than first imagined because like any good story-based game it is the sub-stories that run in conjunction with it that create that great final entrancing effect. Admittedly the racism and politics-led sub-plots are rather glossy and shallow, but the degree to which the world is fleshed out, and how substance is given to the main NPCs and the plot twists they are part of is what prevents this game becoming too stale and cliche.

After this you are taken to your base, which in this game means "glorified menu". Your base consists of six options chosen from a menu; Outfit, which allows you to prepare your men for the coming battle by transferring and purchasing items.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

If you enjoyed the previous two incarnations then there is no reason for you not to have this in your collection. If you did not, then there is no reason for this to be in your collection. It is a glorified GBA port and should have been a lot better for its GameCube début.

Developer

Intelligent Systems

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (16 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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