Fire Emblem: Awakening is a blazing return to form for the strategy RPG genre, and well worth adding to your 3DS library.
Fire Emblem is a long-running, respected member of the strategy genre, with plenty for players to love. The painful waltz of having to say goodbye to a team member forever and ensuring the objectives of each mission are met is simultaneously heartbreaking and intriguing, as permadeath can radically change the game you've been enjoying thus far. The series has unfortunately been dormant for quite some time in the West, with the last major Fire Emblem adventure having been released in 2008. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a brilliant return to form with a gorgeous new coat of paint and more of what defined strategy RPGs in the first place. Awakening builds upon an already stalwart foundation to create another exciting, edge-of-your-seat adventure that deserves your time and attention.
Awakening begins with an "awakening" of sorts, where you're treated to a striking cut scene in which you're seen helplessly slaughtering the companion you're with as the malevolent Validar mocks you, taunting you for the actions you supposedly just can't change. It's tough to watch, thinking you're going down a path as the series villain, but when the scene draws to a close something intriguing happens. You're in the middle of a field, with some others, including a man named Chrom. If that name sounds familiar, it's beacuse Chrom was the companion who suffered a painful death in the game's first scene.
Suddenly your character's an amnesiac, and you're getting on well with your accompanying party. Things would be great, if it weren't for the unsolved mystery of the beginning and the chaos that seems to have befallen the world. Creatures known as Risen are terrorizing the landsacpe. From there, you're in for a wild ride. Awakening begins as a search for answers that's gripping every step of the way.
Not much has changed in the core gameplay department, and thankfully so. The unique blend of rock-paper-scissors combat expertise is back, and it's an interesting model to follow and memorize. For instance, lances will always crush swords, but axes will always best lances. It's a fantastic check-and-balance system. In conjunction with a system that requires units to be placed aside each other for better strength bonuses and other perks, it works extremely well. This allows for large pushes against boss characters and ensures that party members with low HP or low chance at survival get the augments they need to survive the battle with stat increases.