on May 12, 2014
+Reliable and friendly User-Interface (options menu too)
+Casual mode allows a more relaxed and fun alternative to gameplay
+Fanservice for those who wished for it... it's there for your every whim
+Fairly decent voice-acting
+Variety of characters that you are bound to like at least one
+Graphics & animations (along with enabling 3D mode) are impressive
-Story is cliche and with plot holes... the bad guys are shallow
-Voice-acting is also cliche despite the overall performance (for an anime-style game anyway)
-Unbalanced difficulty and lackluster maps
-Fanservice is also creepy, pointless, and meant for men mostly
-Most characters lack substance, or reason to be there (I'm looking at you, Ms. Nowi)
-DLC is not substantial
-Lacks as much strategy as other titles
-Grinding required to handle tougher challenges (which eliminates the whole point of "strategy")
While I did find the game as a Strategy Role-Playing Game decent enough, there are some other spots of the game that just don't seem to do it for me. In fact, I find it more of an RPG pretending to be a Strategy game, and the story is NOT special. I'll explain why:
Other reviewers will say it's story is great, Amazon will say "Immersive story", and other sites may say "one of the best stories ever told". If a good story means "shallow bad guys that have no substance and overly dramatic moments for unreasonable situations and fanservice, alongside unnatural and inconsistent hair color", then... that's a great story. But I'm saying that the story is NOT that great. Heck, most of the Fire Emblem games had very weak stories, and this one is no different.
What you get here is another full-blown cliche that's just presented rather well this time. But no amount of pretty visuals or decent voice-acting can make up for such pointless moments in the story, if there is a story. There's just no real good reason to care about what's happening or about the characters, despite the variety. Enemies also have no meat on their bones, and are simply just there for one thing; to be the bad guys. While some of you are okay with this, it just doesn't cut it in this day and age anymore. They are there, just to be defeated, because that's what heroes do.
Plot holes are also another issue. A lot of the stuff that happens in the game are never explained... they just happen just because. There's just no history or sense of consistency within the events that happen (it's like watching filler episodes of an anime like Bleach). I suppose in medieval times it certainly felt that way, but if there is going to be a story worth telling.... there should be reason behind everything that happens, not just "Hey, I'm a hero. let's a kill a baddie, and do it again tomorrow. Oh look, a transexual just teleported in front of me, and killed two more foes I could have easily dealt with... and now he/she's gone. Hmm. Oh well."
That is a big no-no. You don't do that, ever.
Oh yes, speaking of "no-no's", there's a character named Nowi whose name is Nono in Japanese. She looks and acts like a child (an adolescent child), and yet... she's supposed to be 1000 years old. Yep, that's right... a 1000 year old barely-teens girl. This feels like an excuse to fanservice her for those creepy pervs who are into minors between the ages of 12 and 15 in real life. How could you possibly see a girl who looks old enough to be your little sister in middle school to be 1000 years old, especially if she acts like a middle schooler? Living for 1000 years doesn't serve a purpose to her character at all, other than for a man's fantasy. But hey... that's okay, it's not pedophilia or whatever philia you'd like to call it because her AGE is 1000 (ahem, sarcasm), much like the vampire boyfriend from Twilight isn't a pedo because he LOOKS like a teen. >.>
Overall, the story is not immersive, it's cliche, with creepy fanservice. Most of you may disagree, but you obviously have not either played all the Fire Emblem games, nor have played enough games with better stories (*cough*, Chrono Trigger, Bioshock and Silent Hill 2, ahem... The Last of Us too...) that know how to make you care without needing to be overly complicated or stereotype anything. But I suppose given the genre is mostly Strategy (or an RPG pretending to be a Strategy game), it's hardly surprising... it's just disappointing. The Command & Conquer Red Alert series kinda does the same thing.
It is without a doubt, one of the best in a Fire Emblem game. What's new is the Pair-Up system (no, the marriage system is not new, it's actually in Fire Emblem 4. It's just that the Western audience never got to play it), which allows you to combine two units into one, giving the leader of the pair-up benefits like stat boosts or better chance of critical hits as examples. But whether you pair up or not, if two characters of the opposite gender battle next to each other enough, they will have conversations that improve their support for one another (ranks C, B, A, then S for marriage), and they can eventually get married and have children, which are basically new units with mixed traits from both parents (and there can be conversations with them too). I won't spoil how that works, though.
Reclassing allows a character to... change their class. For example, if a character is a Tactician, you can choose to make him/her anything else (most of the time). And while characters have limited options, at least the good thing is that this feature is not forced... meaning you most likely will never actually need it to progress through the "story" or challenging areas of the game (except for perhaps higher difficulties and going for "classic" mode). You can also do it as many times as you want, so no need to fret about wasting any Seal. Also, using a Second Seal allows your character to continue to level up nicely, while a Master Seal pretty much makes a character level slowly (so it's suggested that you use a Second Seal if a character levels too slowly).
Casual mode removes the grief that plagued other Fire Emblem games; losing characters permanently upon defeat. You can choose to go Casual regardless of the difficulty too. I don't see why most people hate that feature being on there... you are not being forced to dumb down. And besides, it allows you to enjoy the game with relaxation if you really want to (having a choice on how much challenge you want, be it difficulty level or in-game choices is always more viable than not having a choice at all... being forced to play one way is not for everyone).
However, I find the difficulty balance and map challenge to be a bit broken. Normal Difficulty, you are strolling about defeating enemies you excel against like you should (with a bit of leveling against side-mission enemies). If you choose to go on Hard or higher, you basically have to grind (a lot) and/or use exploits to win. There's just no way to progress without being cheap yourself, and even that's hard to do. The maps are also not as tactical as other FE games.
In fact, I find myself hardly finding a way to outsmart my foes (whether it's the lack of need to make an effort, or regardless of the effort, it's nearly impossible to do so due to the boring and non-diverse map design as well as the ridiculously large maps and quantity of enemies). If you ask me, you should just stick to Normal, because at least it won't be unfair (or boring for some people since you won't need to grind NEARLY as much.
Also... the DLC is nothing special, and they mostly feel like cash-ins. And what's the deal with not being able to create a custom character that's not white? There are black NPC's in the game! Dat's racist.
At least the Options menu is extensive and flexible in nearly all aspects of your playtime.
For the most part, it's charming, It's certainly an improvement from other FE games, and you will mostly notice it during battle between units and during cinematic cutscenes. Other than that, it's pretty much the same 2D sprite when playing in general.
The 3D is rather impressive, though. I figured it would be tacked on, but it's not. In the gameplay, in the cinematics... everything, looks pretty awesome in 3D. There's not much to complain about the looks of the game, other than that the transition between dialogue or cinematics and gameplay... it feels out of place. Oh yes, speaking of dialogue...
While it's decent for the most part... it's just cliche as well, besides the story. Unnecessary grunting and screaming, and overly dramatic at some points. Melodrama would be an understatement, especially in situations that just don't call for it. Here's an example: Someone walks into a door and actually breaks their nose, and soon pass out. Commencing funeral and overwhelming tears. That's how your typical anime is like, unfortunately.
Oh, here's another thing... the voiceover for the dialogue in-game is something like this:
Avatar (Dialogue): Y-yes... Thank you, Chrom.
Avatar (Actual Voiceover): Thank you, Chrom.
Chrom (Dialogue): Ah, then you know who I am?
Chrom (Actual Voiceover): Hm?
Avatar (Dialogue): No, actually, I... It's strange... Your name, it just... came to me...
Avatar (Actual Voiceover): Huh?
Chrom: (Dialogue): ...hmm, how curious.
Chrom (Actual Voiceover): Hmm.
Seriously?! 80% of the dialogue in-game is just a bunch of grunts, questioning sighs, and screaming that fill in for conversations! That's terrible. If they can bother putting in noises for dialogue, they could have actually put in some voice-over like they did for some parts of the game! I'm disappointed by this... and I don't give a flying ho-hah if it was because of "money". Frankly, that's an overused and weak excuse, and not good enough for the lack of dialogue.
Every sword clash, every enemy attack, every magical property... everything fits, simply put. There's not much to say here, other than that there's always room for improvement. The music is charming and fits the setting of the game too, and I don't need to explain why.
Replay Value (8/10)
If you like to explore other marriage options, then that may get you to replay the game's story. Other than that, there's not much reason to go back other than to test yourself on how you can deal with the absurd difficulty levels or how fast you can beat the game with no mistakes. But, thanks to Spotpass function and an item called "Reeking Box", you can fight as many foes as you want in all sorts of team formats, challenging yourself and never having to rely strictly on the story for a battle.
You also don't have to worry about the "Point of no Return" trope with this game, either.
This game is something a lot of Strategy or RPG genre fans will like, as well as anime fans. The Casual mode allows everyone else to not be scared away, and the support conversations are a nice touch (and there's a lot of them too). Everyone else... you should approach this game with caution. Find a rental first, or borrow a bought copy from someone else. It's not as great as most people claim it to be. No game really is, but this one is just too obviously bogged down. You'd be a fool (or insane) to think this is the best Fire Emblem game, or best game in general, to date.
Edit: Just so you know, a 6.9 to me qualifies it as a good game. In fact, let me break it down for you:
10 = Legendary
9 = Must Own
8 = Excellent
7 = Great
6 = Good
5 = Fair
4 = Subpar
3 = Terrible
2 = Garbage
1 = WTF?
0 = It exists?!
My rating system is pretty much like Angry Joe's rating system.