Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest - Impressions

In the past couple of years I have been told by several friends that the "Fire Emblem" games were good, and that I should pick them up for my 3DS. While I usually take such advice to heart I kind of felt that paying retail price for a used version of the older Fire Emblem games was ridiculous, so I chose to wait for the release of ''Conquest', and 'Birthright' to make my entry into the series. After looking at both games, and observing their character inclusive cover art I decided to go with "Conquest" as it appealed more to my artistic interests. The whole "villains look cooler" ideology kind of stuck in my head from my toy collecting days. I think the purple theme may have also drawn me in a bit too. Once I got into the game, days after having purchased it, I found myself impressed by the anime cutscenes, the in-game character design, and the story being told. It's something I've not seen yet with a 3DS game, and in that sense I think the developer worked wonders with the software/hardware they created the game upon. At the same time, I noticed some things that weren't exactly appealing to my RPG judgment standards. For one thing the game was heavy on plot presentation, and didn't really make the battles seem all that important outside of the perma-death setting, battle assessments, and the positioning strategies. The battles felt too cinematic, and out of the hands of gamers for me to enjoy. That, and a few other things have made me wonder if this is all that there is to the game.

Even with my conflicting opinions of the short-lived gameplay, and greatly invested visual storytelling I have found "Fire Emblem: Conquest" to be charming, and alluring to an extent. Things like the initial character customization which has players going through various details such as name, gender, height, facial features, personality traits, voices, and hairstyles adds some personal touches that make the created protagonist your own. Even the difficulty choices, and the character related options thereafter (perma-death, instant revive, revival after chapter's end) make the game's straightforward chapter by chapter presentation more engaging, and more important.

As far as gameplay goes I've found that my created female protagonist, Kelli, fits in seamlessly with the story being told. She doesn't seem like someone who dropped in out of nowhere, and is a vital part of the lore that is unfolding when the game begins. Her role is made clear from the start, and like a protagonist she is talked to by other characters as if she's been by their side for years. Along with the created character comes a wide variety of different characters that each have their own unique role to play as well as their own unique personality. The story, for the lack of a better description' seems to mirror that of Koei Tecmo's 'Dynasty Warriors' franchise, but adds in a sort of "Game of Thrones" twist when it comes to dragon, and human relations. Along with the main character comes to warring kingdoms including that of Nohr, and Hoshidan. Nohr being the kingdom which your created protagonist is initially associated with. So far I'm liking what I'm reading, and seeing in regards to the story.

When it comes to mechanics, and tutorials the developers' approach is a little odd, but there's plenty you'll need to pay attention to if you hope to learn all there is to be learned. Currently I'm about 5 chapters into the game, and I'm still seeing new gameplay mechanic tutorials pop-up. Things like color coded weapons that effect other weapon types in different manners, and the character positioning on the battlefield maps are among the things you'll be reading, and clicking through on the bottom screen as the action unfolds on the top screen. When it comes to the strategy part of this RPG the battlefield placement, and battle assessment are the two main points that will either carry you forward when properly done, or cost you some party members if you fail to adhere to them correctly. These points are proven vastly more important when it comes to a game that is set to perma-death (permanent character death). Taking into consideration the option that is perma-death I feel that the main role-players, and their places in the story being told are fleshed out in a well paced manner making them more likeable, and in turn more precious to you. I personally love seeing the characters come to life onscreen via 2D anime inspired character art, and in their impressively rendered 3D selves. Nothing is really half-assed in the way of storytelling, or character building, but as I said earlier the combat seems too short-lived, and too much out of my hands in the way of combat. The battles in particular seem to be mostly about battlefield placement, the unearthing of 'Dragon Veins', and a proper assessment of character to character battles when it comes to weapon types.

Somehow, with all my gripes, and complaints I still find myself sitting here wanting to get back into the game to see if it becomes grander in scale, or if there are new features that will open the game up even more. I will say I absolutely loathe the fact that there is no pausing point after a chapter's end to allow the player to switch off their 3DS, and give it a break. Like a lot of the game's elements the rushing of chapter happenings seems to want to push the player forwards whether they wish to proceed, or not. This is one flaw that I will not change my mind about unless it is fixed. Other than that I will remain open minded until I see the game through to it's end.

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