Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bonding with Fire Emblem: Awakening

at 7:10 PM
Yourself gave his impressions of the Fire Emblem: Awakening demo, so I thought I would share mine with you also.

1. Along the lines of more customization, I like how Fire Emblem resurrected the 1st person tactician character that was used in Fire Emblem 7 (The first US game). As Yourself touched upon, it is a great storytelling tool, doubly so because your character has [gasp] amnesia and needs every basic thing explained to them. Hey it's cliché, but it is better than reading a narrator's text being like, “Welcome to the world of Eur'op'a (The only difference between our world and a fantasy world is needless apostrophes)! Here are five fun facts about it!”

The best part of the inclusion of your avatar is that he is not just an NPC this time around. In-game Ezio has middling stats all around, but the game gives you the opportunity to make one of your stats good and one of them bad. Hint: Res should be your disadvantaged stat. Your character also has the ability to use both swords and magic, atypically to the series. I like that a lot, because I can make a Mage with good survivability, which is pretty gamebreaking.

2. The other notable addition to this game was the idea of banding units together. Previous games in the series had the “Rescue” mechanic, which allowed Unit A to pick up Unit B and carry them around. This was useful because it allowed a unit with a lot of movement transport units with low movement. In addition, enemies were unable to attack Unit B after Unit A rescued him, which let you protect vulnerable units like healers. These perks came at a cost, however, because Unit A would suffer penalties to their stats due to the burden of carrying Unit B around.

Awakening has altered this mechanic, and by doing so altered the whole strategy of engaging the enemy. Instead of incurring penalties to stats, when Unit B bands with Unit A, they give them a bonus to their stats (e.g. Archers give characters some increased speed and accuracy). Banding also will occasionally let Unit B attack the enemy or block one of the enemies incoming attacks while Unit A is fighting. Keeping units separated allows you to be in more places at once and for your troops to do more damage a round, because you will have twice the troops that are able to attack. Keeping units banded together will make all of your Unit A's stronger and means that you have half the units taking damage a round. So the player has to make choices every turn according to the flow of the battle. The relative ease of changing between banded and unbound modes means that you are able to band your healer to your mage one turn to give them increased attack power, and then on the next turn unband so so that the healer can restore one of your knight's HP.

I appreciate the idea of this mechanic—it should make me think significantly more about my decisions on both how to navigate the battlefield and how to conduct combat. However, I do not know if it is going to be particularly successfully executed throughout an entire campaign. Carl von Clausewitz wrote in On War, “Defense is the stronger form of war,” and I cannot help but think that this will be true for Awakening. I say this because Fire Emblem games rarely penalize you for having a conservative strategy, and units that are stronger than normal provide an astoundingly huge advantage. Ike, of Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, has slightly better stats than any other unit; enemies do less damage to him and he does more to them. This escalates quickly to the point where other units cannot harm him and he can pretty much one-shot any baddie. Soloing the Gamecube game with him is not challenging unless you get super RNG screwed. There were no banded enemy units in the demo, and if this holds true for the rest of the game, I believe that my banded units will be unbeatable by the masses of weakling enemy myrmidons and soldiers. Yourself is right about change being needed to keep this series fresh, I just do not know if this is the right change to make. 

3. The battlefield sprites might be even uglier than the GBA ones. 
I do not know if nostalgia is the reason I forgive the GBA sprites for being poorly visualized and find them charming, but these new ones look uninspired to me. Bleck. 

1 comment:

  1. Oddly enough, I actually liked the sprites. They're the kind composed of multiple separately moving parts (i.e. the head's animation cycle is independent of the arms'), which always whisks me away to a magical land. Though they certainly don't need to be so fucking tiny.