Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is a strategy role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. It was released for the GameCube in 2005. It was the first Fire Emblem game released on a home console outside of Japan and the ninth overall. It received a direct sequel in 2007/2008, titled Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn for the Wii.
The game stars Ike, a beorc male at the age 17, who just joined his father's mercenary group, the Greil Mercenaries. At first, the game involves Ike and the rest of the mercenaries doing jobs to aid the whole group such as protecting villages and removing bandits. However, one day, Ike encountered the Daein army and was forced to lead the mercenaries in battle. Afterwards, he found a woman in the forest who turned out to be the princess of Crimea, Elincia. Afterwards, they took her to the mercenary base and end up having to protect her from Daein who is trying to kill her. For most of the game, Ike has to lead an army for Crimea and protect Elincia from Daein forces.
Why It Rocks
- The story is one of the grandest stories in the whole Fire Emblem franchise.
- Ike is a very likable and relatable main character. For starters, he is one of the only main characters in the whole franchise who is not born a noble, which provides something very fresh to the franchise. The game also develops Ike's character and shows him grow from a child to a legendary hero.
- The game features plenty more enjoyable characters such as Boyd, Mist, and more.
- The character designs and portraits are very well done.
- Great antagonists such as Ashnard and the Black Knight.
- Staff animations are automatically off, so if you want to watch staff users attack without the staff animations on, you can do so without doing anything, greatly reducing the tedium that comes from replaying a mission over and over again.
- Forging weapons is introduced in this game, which allows to change a weapon's attributes such as Might, Hit rate, Critical rate and Weight, and even to rename weapons.
- Bonus experience points are also introduced. Bonus experience is obtained by finishing chapters while fulfilling certain conditions such as a certain turn count.
- Instead of getting a certain promotion item, characters can promote by leveling up above level 20, the level cap for all classes. If a character reaches level 10, he can use a Master Seal to promote early.
- Introduces the laguz units, who must charge a meter before being able to transform into animals with powerful attacks, and can use Laguz Stones to stay longer in their animal form.
- Certain classes upon promoting can choose to add a certain weapon, similarly to the branching promotions in Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones. For example, Cavaliers can choose to wield Axes, Lances, Swords, or Bows upon promoting to Paladins, and Mages can choose to wield Staves or Knives when promoting to Sages.
- The game introduces the Base Screen, which allows the player to view supports and manage bonus experience and skills.
- Skills return from the SNES Fire Emblem games, Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776, with some tweaks added to give the system some variety. Characters now have a Skill Meter limiting the skills usable by each character, the length of which changes depending from the class, as well as other factors (such as a unit's level or whether a unit is promoted or not).
- The soundtrack fits very well with the game.
- The graphics (excluding character portraits and backgrounds) look bland. For example, the cavalier model looks washed out. The animations look very stiff compared to say the GBA games, where every sprite is fluid and quick. The map models don't look much better. They all look grainy.
- Knives are very weak in this game.
- There is only one light magic user in the whole game: Rhys. And light magic is a very weak and heavy for Rhys. Rhys himself is also not that viable of a unit.
- Thieves are extremely underpowered in this game. There are only two thieves, only one of whom (Volke) can promote, and the other (Sothe) being extremely weak for the point he joins (requiring massive amounts of Bonus Experience to become remotely viable to use), being unable to promote, and having an extremely hard time catching up with stronger units.
- On the other hand, if you take the time to level up Sothe, he becomes very good. If you finish the game and carry over the save file to Radiant Dawn, you'll find out he's really good in the latter, as he joins right from the start (thus he has all the time to level up), makes good use of the stat bonus obtained by importing the save file, and the Thief class line was rebalanced to make it more useful in combat (even though there are no playable thieves in Radiant Dawn).
- Meanwhile, all the mounted "knight" classes (Sword Knight, Lance Knight, Axe Knight, and Bow Knight) along with Paladins and Flier classes (Pegasus Knight, Falcon Knight, Wyvern Rider, Wyvern Lord) are broken. First, most of the playable mounted units and fliers are very good units. The horseback units can choose another weapon whenever they promote into Paladin. Also, they get to equip the "Knight Ward," which increases a unit's defense and resistance along with increasing their speed growth by 25%. The "Knight Ward" can be abused with BEXP by passing around the item across all of the units who can use it. In addition, the maps were built large so the large movement units could blaze through the map quickly.
- There is a Japanese only difficulty called Maniac Mode. This mode is difficult in all the wrong ways. Fortunately, the international releases removed it. For example, in Chapter 2, the game has more enemies with increased stats in very cheap spots, leading to many deaths due to it.
- The game can go on for 30 hours if you are not skipping cutscenes, and around 20 if you skip the cutscenes, which is very long for a Fire Emblem game.
- Forging is limited for a small selection of weapons.
- Bonus experience points make the game very easy and can make almost every unit strong.
- The fight against the Black Knight in Chapter 27 was criticized by fans for being mostly a game of chance, due to a 5 turns time limit to defeat him. The only way to win is to hope that Ike's Aether skill (which requires some save scumming in chapter 21 with Tauroneo's Occult Scroll) activates at least once, allowing him to deal high damage with Luna and recover HP with Sol, leaving you some free turns you can use to attack instead of using Vulneraries to heal. This will allow Mist (who must be promoted) to attack and hopefully kill the Bishop with the Physic staff. If he manages to heal the Black Knight, you're better off restarting the chapter. The same issues apply with the final boss, Ashnard, except there are multiple units who are able to attack him, and there is no turn limit.