Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Reviewed By: Phil Rownd (aka Boyward)
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
GAME TECH INFO
Computer Platform: Game Cube (Nintendo)
Produced by: Intelligent Systems/Nintendo
Price Range: $40-50
Learning curve time: 31-60 min.
Age level: Teens
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Christian Rating: 4 of 5
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 3 of 5
Adult Content: 5 of 5
At its core, Fire Emblem is the ultimate Chess game: take turns moving your pieces around the board and try to wipe the other guy out. But if you take a trip down the Path of Radiance you'll find a much deeper and more rewarding experience.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is a collection of almost 30 medieval/fantasy turn-based strategy missions. You begin the game as Ike, the son of the mercenary commander Greil. Through some unforseen circumstances, Ike is thrust into leadership of his father's band of mercenaries, and you get to be the tactician. There are many different types of fantasy units at your command: axe-wielding warriors, knight horsemen, wyvern riders, thieves, mages, pegasus knights, and archers, just to name a few. If you've ever played the game 'Paper-Scissors-Rock' you will have some idea of how to win at Fire Emblem. Swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords, and the same kind of system applies to magic wielders. Certain beast characters (the Laguz) can transform into powerful animalian creatures like hawks, tigers, crows, and dragons. All of these warriors have their own stats and abilities which can be increased over time, as you use them in battle or bolster them up between battles. It's a deep system that has dozens of variations and constantly keeps you on your toes throughout the 1-2 hour battles. Just imagine a chess game that takes on new twists as it goes. It's a LOT of fun.
Fire Emblem is an excellent example of how video games can teach godly character. As Ike, commanding your troops in battle fosters a sense of responsibility for their very survival. If they fall in battle they stay fallen for good. Fire Emblem does NOT reward recklessness. It does, however, clearly celebrate righteousness and temperance. For example, there is one battle where some priests are being forced to fight against their will. While it might be easier and more instantly gratifying to kill those priests, there is a long-term reward for pushing them out of harm's way and taking the battle to the real evildoers. Sometimes you can engage the enemy in conversation rather than battle, and persuade them to join you as a friend and comrade. There is a strong message of racial reconciliation throughout most of the game, as the nation of human 'beorc' and beast 'laguz' work to resolve their differences. Ike himself struggles with a strong desire for revenge, and the player is tested to weigh that fleshly desire against nobility and responsibility. Many of the people in the game are honest, fiercly loyal, humble, loving, compassionate, and forgiving. I can't say this about many games, but Path of Radiance inspired me to be a more godly man in my own life.
The battles in Fire Emblem basically feature two opponents squaring off and exchanging blows one at a time. The 3D animations can be rather forceful at times, but they can be turned off. On-field animations appear less brutal. There is no blood, and in moments of extreme violence/gore the camera pulls away. It's very tastefully done.
Path of Radiance has a big emphasis on magic. You can choose not to deploy your own mages and priests, but you will probably lose. Plus, the enemy uses its own magicians liberally, so there is no avoiding it. There is an item called the 'occult' that you can use to give your mercenaries new skills, but they could just as well have called it something else because it has nothing to do with the real occult. Characters often refer to the 'goddess' Ashera, and players will meet Apostle Sanaki, the young girl said to be the goddess' mouthpiece. Some players might be offended by the abilities of the shape-shifting Laguz race, but its best to accept this as one of the game's many fantasy elements.
Year of Release—2005
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has so much going for it: deep and rewarding gameplay, a strong sense of morality, well-written characters, beautiful music, and a powerful story. If you can't stomach the constant use of magic or references to the 'goddess' then you won't want to travel this Path. But for those gamers who simply want a long, engrossing strategy game, this 40-60 hour journey is well worth it.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.
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