|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Intelligent Systems||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 5, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The level-up feature in Radiant Dawn is also identical to that of past games. When a unit gains 100 experience (gained for engaging enemies in battle; more is gained if you kill a foe), he or she gains a level. With a level-up comes an increase in stats. These increases are determined by a character's percent growth in a stat (a complicated matter; just leave it alone), and stats cover every aspect of a character: strength, defense, resistance, weight, skill, and speed are just some of the many stats. Additionally, once characters reach a certain level, they gain the ability to upgrade class. For example, an archer upgrades to a sniper; upgraded classes sometimes feature a slight let-up on the weapon restriction and always include a nice upgrade in stats.
Admittedly, it is a bit disappointing that Radiant Dawn doesn't feature any Wii-specific controls, nor does it at all take advantage of what the Wii really has to offer. The game controls with the Wii remote on its side, like a classic NES controller. 1 and 2 buttons take the place of A and B on the GameCube's controller, and the D-pad replaces the Control Stick. While I would have personally liked to see some motion control or something incorporated into the game, the fact of the matter is that Radiant Dawn doesn't suffer much from its mundane control scheme. It's not that exciting, but more important is the fact that it just works.
Where the game stops working however, is where it continues to mimic Path of Radiance. Particularly in terms of graphics, Radiant Dawn just fails to impress. The graphics in this game are essentially GameCube graphics. The map visuals are nearly identical to those in the last game. The battle graphics, while still too long and annoying, have been slightly improved -- still, though, lack of variety really begins to hurt the game as you continue to play it. And the scarce cutscenes, while nice looking, are no improvement from what you saw in the previous game.
The music and sound are also a bit of a stumbling point for Radiant Dawn, again because they're so similar to that in Path of Radiance. The actual music in the game is, as has come to be expected of all Fire Emblem games, fantastic. Seeing as this is the fourth time around for the Fire Emblem franchise in North America, the tunes seem as if they're getting a bit reused. Regardless though, they're among the best present in any video game. The real problem is the conspicuous dearth of any voiceovers. The voice acting that is present (only in the cutscenes) is fantastic -- the problem is that for standard conversations and plot progression in between battles, you've got to scroll through huge walls of text to get what's going on. I personally was okay with that, but it would be nice if the game's great story could have been complemented by great storytelling; sadly, that wasn't the case.
While Radiant Dawn is essentially a good GameCube game disguised as a Wii title, there are some strong reasons to shell out the fifty bucks for it. For one, there's a huge amount of replay value, even without a multiplayer mode (neither local nor online). Support conversations, gained by having characters remain next to each other for a certain number of turns during battles, contribute to the plot and develop each character hugely. Just to beat the game through takes quite a while, and the support conversations are good enough to incite you to play through the title multiple times.
Overall, while it's by no means the most impressive Wii title, Radiant Dawn remains a solid game. The plot is great, the gameplay, while mundane, is entertaining. The graphics are a bit of a drawback, but real Fire Emblem fans will be able to overlook it. If you're a fan of the series, or if you're just looking for some a great tactical RPG, then consider adding Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn to your collection.
CCC Freelance Writer