|Dev: Intelligent Systems|
|Release: February 4, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes|
The world and combat maps, however, are where the game feels a little dated. Small character sprites with choppy animations are a decades-old format, but in the context of the combat system, this still works. The in-game character models are somewhere in the middle of the visual quality spectrum, but the attack animations are quite enjoyable to watch. When Chrom spins his falchion and then stabs it into the ground after slaying an enemy, you can't help but nod your head with approval.
The 3D effect succeeds on every level. The cinematics look like an epic movie. The backdrops during the combat animations and in-game cutscenes make the world seem much larger than it would have been without the effect. And the world and battle maps become virtual tactical tables with you looming overhead.
The musical score is breathtaking, hitting all the right notes at all the right times. Despite the arduous journey of Chrom and the Shepherds, many of the personalities are whimsical, which makes conversations between the different characters awkwardly humorous. The music highlights these moments with jovial arrangements, though during the more dramatic scenes the entire orchestra crescendos with ferocity. The only annoyance I found was how each character begins a conversation with a grunt, moan, or single word response. Either making it fully voiced or just leaving the text without vocals would have been preferable, but the decision by the designers to try to find some middle ground between the two is just irksome.
Small criticisms aside, Fire Emblem: Awakening will have you hooked from the very beginning, and will be incredibly hard to put down throughout. You'll always want to take just one more turn to build more relationships, gain a level, forge a new item, and see what will happen next in the gripping narrative. There are a lot of characters, a lot of content, near perfect technical skills, and plenty of incentives to return even after you've completed the campaign. If Fire Emblem: Awakening is an indication of what's in store for Nintendo's portable lineup, then the 3DS is in for a very lucrative year.
Date: January 30, 2013