Review: Fire Emblem Warriors

Nintendo and Koei Tecmo make for strange bedfellows and yet a game like Hyrule Warriors not only became a reality, but it was well enough received for Nintendo to let Koei Tecmo play around with another of its key franchises. Albeit it makes use of the same concept, Fire Emblem Warriors has the potential to benefit from the strategic aspect of the franchise.

In Fire Emblem Warriors, players follow the adventures of twins who are fighting against a great evil that is trying to take over their world. The twist is that characters from previous Fire Emblem games turn up at different points to help the twins in the fight and in gaining the power to defeat the great evil once and for all.

Those that are not keen on having to constantly press a button to move on to the next segment of story text will be glad to know that it can be set to be done automatically. There is quite a lot of text to read and so it’s definitely a good design choice.

Whilst the title resembles a traditional Fire Emblem title on the surface, it’s actually a lot more similar to a typical Dynasty Warriors game. It’s not surprising given that Koei Tecmo developed the game, but it might come as a shock to those used to the advanced tactical gameplay offered by Fire Emblem titles. Instead Fire Emblem fans should expect a lot of Warriors hack and slash gameplay elements. There is an attempt to make it more tactical by making it possible to use a grid to give AI controlled character simple orders, but it never feels quite the same compared to the careful chess board like maneuvering of characters in a typical Fire Emblem stage.

There’s also the fact that it can feel cumbersome to have to pause the title when it is necessary to give allies orders. It’s often the case where allies just wander off and don’t seem to be doing anything particularly useful and so it is essential to keep giving them orders.

Each mission comes with objectives that players must complete before moving on to the next mission. The characters are very fond of constantly talking about what they have achieved, which results in some amusing situations, such as when they keep talking about defeating an enemy long after it’s been quickly defeated.

It does feel like Koei Tecmo has attempted to create a Fire Emblem title that could appeal to fans of the franchise, but mostly flimsy uses of beloved ideas from the franchise only serve to highlight the fact that it merely manages to do so on a superficial basis. Perhaps the best integrated idea is the use of a system to boost attributes and level up characters. There is a crests system used to upgrade characters which might feel time consuming to use once players have just about every character unlocked towards the end of the story. It’s great to see nods to endearing Fire Emblem ideas such as the relationship system too, but the way that the title is played makes such ideas feel not as essential or fun to engage with. At least the title includes the option of making it so characters that die in a mission will stay that way like in the Fire Emblem games to make it more challenging to play.

Those not particularly keen on the idea of a title that basically boils down to just mashing buttons to kill a lot of enemies and then progressing to the next mission to do the same, might not enjoy playing this game that much. At least there are times where the twins separate to go complete different goals and it manages to slightly break up the routine, which is a blessing since most missions revolve around capturing forts.

The title does make clever use of the different classes that Fire Emblem is known for. It’s possible to quickly switch between characters to experience each class and see just how different it feels to play as each of them. It definitely helps to make the hack and slash gameplay less monotonous when taking on enemies with the likes of characters on top of a flying creature called a pegasus. Each class is also weak and strong against certain other classes which makes it even more rewarding to get to play as each of them – although it doesn’t feel as important as when playing a Fire Emblem game.

What the game manages to do really well is create a stunning visual representation of the Fire Emblem world that brings the franchise into the glorious world of high definition. Even better is that there is no attempt at sexualising characters as seems to be the norm with certain Koei Tecmo titles, like the Metroid Nintendo Wii game developed by Koei Tecmo. However, it can be confusing at times to listen to the rock remixes of classic Fire Emblem music that play during missions.

It would have benefited the missions if the map used for each one wasn’t cluttered with icons. This made it difficult to keep up with what needed to be done at times and it didn’t help that new objectives were constantly being added. In fact, it became quite irritating to constantly hear announcements to the point that it felt like being inside an airport for a couple of hours.

There are also extra missions in a Historic mode that make use of classic scenarios from Fire Emblem games, but it’s more or less the same as playing the Story mode missions. Those who are keen on pairing up with a friend can also take on Story and Historic missions together in split-screen.

Whilst the game doesn’t manage to make the best use of Fire Emblem features, it still does a decent job of trying to do it. At least the story gets more interesting towards the ends. It’s just a shame that Fire Emblem Warriors limits itself in terms of what can be done in the missions considering that it’s making use of a franchise which is well-known for providing players with different kinds of advanced challenges.

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