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[GCN] Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - Katie's Review

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Kind of a Big Deal
Kind of a Big Deal

Console: Nintendo Gamecube
Developed By: Intelligent Systems
Published By: Nintendo

Graphics: 7/10
Storyline: 8.5/10
Characters: 9.5/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Music: 8.5/10
Overall: 8.5/10

Before I start the review, be warned; I am a Fire Emblem fangirl. I just love it. I'm going to try and keep this review as unbiased as possible, but if I could give it a 10/10 I would.

Time for a bit of background. Path of Radiance is the ninth game in the FE series, and it's storyline is totally unrelated to any games that came before it. The setting is the continent of Tellius, a continent that features two races: beorc (humans) and laguz (shapeshifters who can transform into animals for battle). There are three main sects of laguz: birds, beasts, and dragons. Birds can be either herons, hawks, or ravens, beasts are cats, lions, or tigers, and dragons are red, white, or black. There is racism between the beorc and laguz, with beorc referring to laguz as 'sub-human' and laguz referring to beorc as 'human' with the same meaning. The main character is Ike, who is the son of Greil, leader of the Greil mercenaries. Crimea, home to the mercenary group, is invaded by the neighboring country of Daein, and it's up to the mercenaries to defeat Daein and it's king, Ashnard. I could bore you with the rest of the storyline, but I'll refrain for now. :P

Graphics were... ok. The game's cutscenes were beautifully animated, but they were few and far between. Once you get a taste of what the game's designers were capable of, you were left disappointed. Most of the interactions between characters occurred with cutouts of the speaking characters with a backdrop, like this.
The drawings are very nice, but graphics are less than impressive. The board that the battles took place on and the battles themselves were pretty good, but nothing compared to the cutscenes.

The storyline was very engaging. It was definitely deep, but it had some humorous parts that kept things from getting too serious. I especially enjoyed watching the trust grow between the laguz and beorc. If you do play the game, don't be surprised when there are a few things left unexplained. Everything is clarified in the sequel, Radiant Dawn.

Characters were great, as with any Fire Emblem game. People complain about the lack of character development, but they have so many characters it'd be impossible for them to fully develop every single one. All of the main characters (Ike, Elincia, etc.) were fully developed, and several minor characters had their learning moments too (Jill, Sothe, and so on). Unlike Radiant Dawn, characters could have support relationships with more than one character. Who a character had support with was based on how many battles characters were in together. To increase support to the next level, all you had to do was watch a few support conversations between the characters when they became available.

Characters were leveled up based on experience pints they gained from battle. Every one hundred exp points, the character's level increased, and stat bonuses were gained. Sometimes almost every stat was increased, and other times nothing increased. Once a beorc unit hit level twenty-one, they went through a class change, and stats were given a major boost, along with a new wardrobe.

Gameplay is just like any other Fire Emblem game. You choose the characters you want to deploy, position them on the map, hit 'Fight', and start strategizing. There were different Victory strategies, such as Rout (defeat every enemy), Sieze (have Ike sieze the enemy headquarters), Arrive (have any character arrive at a certain square on the map), and Defend (defend a location the enemy is trying to sieze). My personal favorite was Rout, because I hated leaving an enemy alive, it felt like wasted experience points. If you lost a character, they were either permanently injured (in the case of Titania, Soren, etc.) or they died. If Ike or Elincia died, it's game over. Once you started a map, you couldn't save your game permanently, but you could suspend. Once you resumed your suspend data, it disappeared, and if you failed for any reason you had to start the level over.

The music was, overall, very good. My only problem was the lack of variety. There were a few main battle themes and a few map themes, and you didn't get to hear anything new very often. I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't played Radiant Dawn first, but I was expecting 150+ different songs, so I was slightly disappointed. Here's a link to the soundtrack: http://www.feplanet.net/music/3

The only thing that truly bothered me about Path of Radiance was the way items worked. You had four slots for weapons and four slots for items, and if you went over that limit a weapon/item had to be dropped. I had to drop a lot of weapons before sending it to storage finally became an option. I don't need a lot of items for my characters, so usually one item slot and all four weapon slots were occupied, and it bothered me that I couldn't use the items slots to carry weapons.

One other thing: If you don't like reading, you shouldn't play the game. There is a lot of reading involved. You could skip over it, but then you wouldn't understand the storyline at all. Personally, a lot of reading adds to the appeal, but that's just me.

Path of Radiance was a really great game, and definitely one of my favorites. If you've never played a Fire Emblem game, I recommend that you give it a try, especially when you can get Path of Radiance for $20 at Gamestop.



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O: looks awesome!

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