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 Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (GBA)

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PostSubject: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (GBA)   Fri May 02, 2008 12:38 pm

Metachronos overall score = 8.7 / 10

- Deep, satisfying blend of strategy and role-playing
- Lavishly crafted character-driven epic storyline
- Lengthy quest also invites lots of replay value
- Well suited for players of all ages and skill levels

- Gameplay hasn't changed much since the excellent 2003 Fire Emblem game
- Lots of recycled graphics and sound

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones consists of a series of strategic turn-based battles that are tied together by an elaborate, carefully crafted story featuring dozens of different characters...characters who live and die by your actions. The story touches on many of the same themes as the previous Fire Emblem game, but it's otherwise completely different, right down to the new setting of the land of Magvel. Central to the tale is a new pair of protagonists, the chivalrous royal siblings Ephraim and Eirika. When the kingdom of Grado suddenly and ruthlessly lays siege on its former allies in the kingdom of Renais, Ephraim and Eirika emerge as some of the sole survivors. Forced to go their separate ways, the two of them embark on a quest to muster an army and discover the source of Grado's treachery. You'll get to experience the story from both characters' perspectives, and parts of it even branch off, giving you a different angle on the storyline depending on whose journey you choose to follow.

Much like the previous Fire Emblem, this is a well-written, surprisingly sophisticated narrative featuring plenty of endearing heroes and villains, and no shortage of provocative, morally complex situations. The content isn't so severe that it isn't suitable for younger players, but the point is, Fire Emblem takes itself and audience seriously, though it's not without its occasional moments of comic relief, either. The storyline mostly just unfolds through lightly animated character portraits and accompanying onscreen text, yet this seemingly simple technique works surprisingly well to get the point across. The story is noninteractive and at times quite wordy, so you could skip right past it if and when you really want to. But, much like the previous game, the entertaining turn-based combat and the rich story of The Sacred Stones combine to form something much greater than the sum of these two parts.

The only real knock against the game's presentation is that it's so similar to the previous game's. The little cutscenes showing the different units battling each other still look fantastic, featuring impressive, meticulously animated attacks and imaginative character designs. When a unit scores a critical hit, the attack tends to look so powerful as to make you wince. These cutscenes are quick and exciting, but you can opt to strip them out if you're pressed for time or have grown tired of seeing them after many hours of play. The overhead maps remain clear and easy to read, and the game's dozens of different characters each has his or her own animated portrait, which really helps give the cast a lot of personality. At a glance, the game's anime-style artwork may not look particularly special, but the consistency of the art style and the subtle expressions on all the different characters' faces do a lot to create a believable, memorable world. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones also features a brand new musical score that does a great job of emulating an orchestral sound while also driving the tone of the storyline, and the sound effects of battle remain just as good as the visuals. Fans of the first Fire Emblem need to track this game down without delay if they haven't already done so. For that matter, pretty much anyone else suffering the drought of new Game Boy Advance releases would be wise to pick this one up. This is a first-rate strategy game combined with a first-rate role-playing game that fans of either style of gaming ought to really appreciate. One could easily assume that a portable game such as this couldn't live up to the depth and quality of a full-blown strategy or role-playing experience on consoles or the PC, but in that case, one would simply be mistaken.


Most of my reviews are taken from www.gamespot.com I shorten them and find the most important parts as their reviews are over 3 pages long which can be a burden to read and the screenshots are taken from the internet Wink
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