Fire Emblem: Radiant DawnESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer – Intelligent Systems
Publisher - Nintendo
Dolby Pro logic 2
Every year at this time the big consoles seem to have a plethora of titles come out. From the beginning of October to Christmas the big games that gamers look forward to all year get released. I liken it to a summer of blockbuster movies. Nintendo’s Wii is no exception to the yearly trend. We’ve seen GH3, Battalion Wars 2 and Super Mario Galaxy is right around the corner. Well there is also another title that has been recently released for the Wii, the cult favourite Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn. I first played Fire Emblem Scared Stones on the GBA and I loved the RPG and strategy theme of the game, so I was more then happy to review the latest Fire Emblem chapter on the Wii. This latest iteration of the continuing storyline is a direct sequel to the Gamecube chapter called Path of Radiance, which was a great title as well. I must say I am most curious to see how this long running series, developed by Intelligent Systems, translated to the almost one year old Wii.
Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn won’t have the masses clamouring over each other for the revolutionary graphics system. In fact, to most gamers the game may look a little too rudimentary but I can say that it does look quite a bit nicer than the Gamecube predecessor. It run in 16:9 widescreen at 480p resolution, and for the most part it runs at a constant framerate throughout the whole game too. I did find the game stuttered during some of the more intense battle animations, but nothing distracting enough for concern. Everything during the game is very crisp and clean, with rich colors and filtered hues. The game boosts an ample amount well done of FMV, but the draw for Fire Emblem is the hand drawn graphics that the game is presented in. All the battle animations throughout the entire game are beautifully hand drawn art, which I’m a big fan of. No 3D poly’s here, only incredibly detailed characters and surroundings. Of course there are some static pictures with sprites pasted on them while some of the storyline is being played out, but overall I still found them to be pleasing. During battles the screen will switch to a side view and may circle the group. This added a somewhat artistic flair to the available graphics. Overall I think it will be a matter of taste how you view the games visuals, and for my tastes they were very appealing.
Like most Wii titles the audio portion of Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn is in Dolby Pro Logic 2. Where the difference may come into play is how each individual developer handles the sound and voice work of each title. Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn has very little voice acting but what is there is very good. The voice acting takes on a sort of Shakespearean tone set in medieval times. Unfortunately the cut scenes that have the voice acting really are very far and few in between. It would have been nice to see a little less text and more spoken word.
The various sound effects also play an important role in the story as they convey accurately each weapon or horse, carriage, and even footstep. I found that the sound of slightly echoing footsteps in a corridor are very different sounding than those in an open courtyard or field, a detail that most would take for granted. The sounds of weapons during battle were also audibly different. If in a street alley or a grassy plain the weapons did not sound the same, as one was an enclosed area, while the other was an open setting. This was very cool and a nice attention to detail as well. Finally, the music that surrounds most of the game is of orchestral nature, with some being somewhat memorable while others were somewhat annoying. Overall the developer took some time in making the title sound quite good and I can appreciate that the developer put work into the audio.
At first most gamers will notice that Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn is very similar to the Gamecube version Path of Radiance. As a sequel the game uses many of the options from the prequel, as well as many characters. In the time it takes to figure out how this game differs I would think most may get turned off by the somewhat ‘been there done’ that feeling. I found after delving deeper into the title that Intelligent Systems has crafted a no frills RPG/strategy game. It has very little in terms fluff as it is all about the gameplay, and for a hardcore RPG/strategy gamer like myself that is okay. The storyline is not long and convoluted as that would really just confuse things. In fact most Fire Emblem fans already know the history of the series and won’t mind the stripped down progression. The game does fill in some blank spots which continues to drive the game forward and I found that I enjoyed what was there.
I like the control scheme offered in Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn as there are three different styles to choose from. One can choose to use the Wii Remote on its side (which reminds me so much of the NES controllers of old), the Classic Controller, or the Gamecube Controller. The game recognizes which controller is plugged in and adjusts the button placements for each. They all worked pretty well although I have always thought the classic controller was a bit slow in its analog toggle. There are no Wii remote or nunchuk applications in Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn, therefore the control options are easy enough that anyone playing should be up and running in no time as it is essentially three buttons. The 3/4 overhead look gives a full view of the surroundings and field grid. From here you instruct characters or units to wherever they may need to be, instigate attacks or retreat if need be. The simple interface lets the gamer do what they want with amazing efficiency.
Fire Emblem’s well known permanent death clause is back as well. Basically if anyone in your party perishes they cannot be revived or brought back in any way. Knowing this makes one really think about each and every move they make with the various units as one wrong move and your assault could not only is thwarted, but you could lose a high ranking ally for the rest of the game. I quite like this option as it makes me really plan my moves, but for those who can’t stand losing a valued party member may reset the game and start over.
One disappointing feature left out for this latest version of the Fire Emblem franchise is online support. Unfortunately the lack of Wi-Fi online play really hurts this game. It could have been such a great MMORPG for Nintendo. The premise is perfect, fast gameplay and a clean interface really makes this game scream for Nintendo Wi-Fi support. I am not sure why the game has no support for it, perhaps the next Fire Emblem game will.
Hardcore RPG/strategy gamers should love Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn. Along with some stylized visuals the game has simple and streamlined gameplay including very basic control which really makes the game easy to pick up and play. On the downside I think the game may be a bit too streamlined for some. I feel that my time with the game really does warrant a recommendation, especially to those RPG/strategy game fans. However my fear is that in a time when so many other huge titles are being released on all the consoles out there Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn may get lost in the crowd.