Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Nintendo Wii)

Summary: Released in the US in November of 2007, Radiant Dawn is the 10th title in the tactical role-playing Fire Emblem series. It is a direct sequel to its predecessor, Path of Radiance. Though that title was released on the GameCube, it is possible to import character data into the new game. Set in a unique fantasy realm, Path of Radiance followed a band of mercenaries, led by the warrior Ike, as they attempted to thwart Mad King Ashnard of Daein in his attempt to steal the throne of Crimea from rightful heir Elincia. In this sequel, a group known as the Dawn Brigade (headed by youths Sothe and Micaiah) struggles to free Daien from the disastrous occupation by the Begnion empire that followed the loss of the war. Dark forces are, however, conspiring to use this rebellion as the seed for an even more terrible war that will soon encompass the entire continent of Tellius.

Review: Sounds complicated, right? But that’s pretty standard for a tactical role-playing game. For those that don’t know what a tactical role-playing game is: the player manages a party of characters in Dungeon and Dragon’s style, by assigning and buying ever better experience, skills and weapons, then controls the characters in missions. Missions in Radiant Dawn take place on a chess board like grid, with the player moving characters to attack, heal, cast spells etc.  The game has a lot to recommend it; a great story, decent gameplay and underrated animation sequences. You are perpetually being put in control of different groups in the game (you sometimes literally start a battle in charge of one group, and then the game shifts your perspective and says ‘ kill those characters you just controlled’) which can be jarring but does wonders for the story. While a sequel, the player is given enough information to follow the story without having played the first, and there is little gore, earning it a friendly E10+ ESRB rating. But all of that aside, if you didn’t have the faintest idea what a tactical role-playing game was, this is not the game for you. This is, no escaping it, a brutally difficult game. I started this game on Normal difficulty and found that I got crushed by the AI at the tiniest slip. And even when set on Easy, this is still a challenging game. I can only imagine that on Brutal difficulty, swordsmen might actually invade your home to hunt you down. If you really enjoy this sort of game and/or like a challenge, then this is for you; if not, take a pass.

Play-a-likes: If you liked Radiant Dawn or just like the idea but would like an easier entry point into this genre, try Valkyria Chronicles for the PS3.

Availability: The Lake Bluff Public Library owns this game for the Wii. Click here to check on the availability!


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