Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is a turn based role-playing strategy game, the first Fire Emblem title for the GameCube. At first I found it very difficult to get into, having not playing the Game Boy Advance predecessors, turn based games with lots of statistics confuse me slightly but after getting some expert help with what I had to do found it quite an enjoyable game to play.
In the playable Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) demo you started with quite a few characters, both from your own team and ‘partners’ who although not part of your immediate team would listen to orders given to them.
You have different classes or types of characters; mages, archers, people on horseback and warriors all form your team, obviously with very different abilities. Those on horseback can move further than those on foot while archers don’t have to be right up close, which means an opponent cannot counter. Some warriors have counter attacks, but these tend to be weaker attacks so there’s very much a sense of thinking involved.
One aspect I found interesting was that if a team member dies in combat that’s it, you lose them forever. This adds a good system as it makes sure you keep your White Mage handy for healing spells and means you are thinking more about the welfare of each and every member of your party before sending one in as a sacrificial lamb.
There are several different objectives you can work towards as the plot progresses, from simply ‘seizing’ a level to finding an object of killing a specific target, which would help add a variety to the game and encourage not stepping into the trap of just using the same tactics for each battle.
This is the game many Fire Emblem fans have been waiting for and I don’t think they will be disappointed. There were three different difficulty settings in the E3 demo which will probably convert into the final product, providing a challenge for the hardcore and giving those just beginning some advice on how to play and what certain phrases mean.