Fire Emblem Awakening is the first Fire Emblem game I've played and I can safely say it's one of the best and most addicting games I've played over the last few years.

There's numerous reasons why this game is great,it's story has great plot twists and can be emotional,the characters are charming and the game makes you care about them by allowing characters to get married and to make children with other characters and you can even use the children in your party! The battle system is very tactical and in order to succeed in the game you'll need to think multiple moves ahead and the game has beautiful art styles for it's visuals and it's music is beautiful too.There is also little extra things the game does to make you care about it's characters such as how it shows profiles about the characters and displays who their spouse and children are and the way the game has in-depth character stories for every party member(even minor ones).And the most distinguishable feature of all which is the permadeath which allows characters to die permanently which creates more tension to game play and can mean making good decisions during battle is important not just for winning,but to keep your most beloved characters alive,also if your most powerful characters die it can greatly reduce your chances of winning.

The story for the game is about how an evil force of zombie-like beings known as 'Risen' are plaguing the world and other nations are attacking the peaceful nation of Ylisse.Chrom is the prince of Ylisse and him and his group of soldiers go out to investigate and to put an end to all the madness from the other nations and to put an end to the Risen.For a while the story moves slowly but it's fitting because it shows a war happening.However,huge and great plot twists later come into the story and the story starts focusing a lot on mythological type things.

You'll create a character who wakes up and has no memory of who they are and they get caught in the middle of the war and I can't explain why the story is so great without giving away spoilers,but trust me it becomes great and emotional.Another way the story is emotional is the way you can create romances,marriages and children and the fact your spouse,children,friends can die and after you've been through many tough battles with them and have seen them in many story scenes you'll grow attached to them and if they die it can be quite heartbreaking to know you won't see them again.

Creating romance is fun,not just because you can make characters get married and have kids,but also because the way the characters flirt can be quite cute and funny.

As for the battle system and game play,the battle system places big importance on character relationships.When you place a unit next to another unit,you'll get some sort of stat boost at the very least but when some units are next to other units they can perform team style attacks or one of the units will block attacks directed for the unit they're standing next to.You can also 'pair up' characters which means you can ask a character to hide behind another character and they'll continue doing so until you tell them not to and this adds an extra element of strategy because when they're hiding behind another character they cannot be attacked but cannot perform any sort of actions whether they be attacking or healing,but this is a good way of keeping your more vulnerable units such as white mages alive and when you think it's safe to use them you can command them to stop hiding behind another character(but it consumes the turn of that unit so you have to wait until your next turn to be able to use that unit).

Each unit can be used one time per turn.When a unit attacks another unit,quite often the unit they're attacking will attack the aggressor back.Sometimes units will attack more than one time during their turn and the unit being attacked can attack their aggressor more than one time when they're retaliating and this can cause some epic exchanges,especially when the aggressors or units being attacked are paired up with a unit that's next to them and you see numerous attacks being exchanged by 3 or more units in one turn(I can't remember the AI enemies doing team attacks but my units could whether they were the aggressor or the ones defending during their turn.

The fact units will often fight back when they're attacked means you have to think more carefully about your strategy because the units you attack won't just stand there and let themselves be attacked like in many other turn-based style battle systems.

Your units can perform super attacks which I think are referred to as skills.Whether they use these skills or not is chance and it adds more excitement.

The be successful in the game you'll need to utilize the various character classes,which there's many of but basically there's swordsmen,heavily armored knights in horseback,dark mages,white mages,cavalry,units who can transform into beasts,archers and units that use flying creatures.There's also units which aren't heavily armored but have great agility due to their high luck stats and can dodge most attacks and whom can perform powerful attacks themselves.

Basically you'll need to utilize the scissors,paper,rock system,for example highly leveled knights can withstand a lot of melee attacks but they have shorter attack range.Mages can inflict big damage to knights when they use their magic and can attack units from a further distance away but mages have weaker armor making them vulnerable to melee attacks.Archers are effective against flying enemies but whether they're effective or not against ground units depends on how highly they're leveled and how well they're equipped.The units who can transform into beasts are interesting because they can perform extremely powerful attacks and can have great defensive stats and be great and dodging enemy attacks but there isn't many of these types of units to keep things balanced,and as the story says,some of them are from races that are nearly extinct.

To make things more interesting,your weapons can break,even your spells can break and transformation stones which units that can transform into powerful beasts use can break too.They break after you use them a certain number of times(I think they can break earlier too)which encourages you to utilize as many units as you can even more.You can get around this by buying and equipping numerous weapons,spells,beast stones for your units but it will be expensive and in the game you need to be careful with money because there's limited chances to find money,just like there's limited chances to level up,so you'll want to do as many side story quests and optional missions as you can to get more money,to get more XP and to find more weapons.

There's over 20 side story quests and they allow you to find new and helpful party members and they aren't directly related to the main story but relate to certain characters who need to be rescued or helped during missions and if you rescue these characters they can be helpful and powerful party members(at least one of them is someone who can transform into a dragon)but if you don't rescue them they don't become part of your party or if they get killed before you complete the mission you can't use them,even if you have permadeath off.

That brings me to my next point,the player can choose whether to have permadeath on or not and this means players who want to sit back and relax and enjoy the story and game play without the stress of worrying about losing party members can enjoy the game and people who want a more hardcore experience and the emotional experience of worrying about losing party members can enjoy the game too.

To create romance you'll need to raise the relationship level of two characters whom are romantically compatible whom are of the opposite sex to level S(prior levels will be C,B,A)and that means sometimes you'll need to pair up the two characters in battle by making the characters help each other or do team attacks in battle or you can pair them up(which is the same thing as when you make a character hide behind another character)and there is times when you can talk to a potential romantic partner outside of battle to increase the relationship level.The benefits of creating romance besides battlefield stat boosts when the characters stand next to each other is some romantic couples can create children who can be valuable party members.However,the way love stories build up is charming because of the flirting and humor and that's reward enough and you can choose to make two characters fall in love and get married even if they can't make children because you want to see them together.The scenes that show romance building up/happening are short and there's only a few of them but there is a surprise for you after you beat the game if you make characters get married and have kids,especially if the character you create gets married and has kids.Basically I like how the game play doesn't just focus on winning but trying to create romance for fun.Like I said,the game has character profiles that shows which characters the characters are married to and who are their parents/children.

But you can make characters relationship levels grow in terms of their friendship level and even characters who are friends will give each other stat boosts so it's beneficial to increase friendship levels as well as create romance and make children.

I don't like to play games in multiplayer so I have no opinion of Fire Emblem Awakening's multiplayer.

The game has beautiful art styles for it's visuals,there is scenes that look like they're from an anime and the battle scenes have 3D models and both have a lovely use of colors.You'll see things such as beautiful waterfalls and lush green grassy plains and scenes that have a more hazy atmosphere with lighter colors.The 3D feature works well with thie game and it makes the characters look like they're real 3D objects,even for the anime scenes.

The music is quite beautiful too and has a nice orchestrated sound to it.

Overall,Fire Emblem is one of the best JRPGs I've played in the last few years and is a must for 3DS owners. 

I originally published this review on Gamespot earlier in 2013 as a member named ZanarkandTidus.