Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (Fire Emblem: Souen no Kiseki in Japan) is the 9th entry in the Fire Emblem series, but the first to be done in full 3D. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is the first Fire Emblem game to be released on a home console since Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 for the SNES in 1999, as well as being the first Fire Emblem game to be released on the Nintendo GameCube.
It takes place in a brand new continent known as Tellius, and the main character in this game is Ike, a young mercenary recruit in a band led by his father, Greil. In Tellius, two races, the human Beorc (From the country of Crimea) and the shapeshifting animal-like Laguz (From the country of Gallia) share a history of intolerance of each other. When the country of Daein invades and attacks Crimea, Ike must rise up and unite the two sides despite their ancient rivalry.
The gameplay remains very similar to the past few titles. There are some new additions, such as shape-shifting classes, skills that can be attached to units, and the usual new classes and new compelling story. The new units from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones such as the Great Knight as an alternate class change are not included.
These are gameplay features that are mainstays of the Fire Emblem series. They are features and basic mechanics that have not changed since the recent Fire Emblem games.
The game is a turn-based strategy game with RPG elements. You progress from map to map, sometimes to optional sidequests, accomplishing objectives. The objectives for each map vary from the following: Rout, defeating every enemy on the screen; Seize, capture a throne or headquarter space, guarded by a boss unit; Defend, defend and survive for a certain amount of turns; Escape, have Ike reach a point on the map to end the battle, though all allied units can escape at that point for potential bonuses.
Instead of controlling faceless, expendable units like in Final Fantasy Tactics or Advance Wars, you control characters. They have names, personalities, back stories and strengths and weaknesses. They are intended to get attached to, which is helped by the integral game mechanic of the series of permanent death. When a unit is killed in battle, they stay dead for the rest of the game. This forces you, the tactician, to decide if they are important enough to restart the entire level for (In hopes of avoiding the same fatal mistake), or if you should accept their sacrifice and move on.
The game is grid based, with different effects to terrain tiles. For example, mounted cavalry units like Social Knights cannot move over mountain tiles. Some maps even have Fog of War terrain, that obscures vision range and offers hiding places. When attacking other units, players must consider several things: The weapon they are using, the level/strength of each unit, and surrounding units. Weapons, whether they're swords or magic, use a special rock-paper-scissors triangle. Swords are strong against Axes, which are strong against Lances, which are strong against swords. The same goes for magic, though not in the same way as Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. In this, Anima magic is split up. Thunder beats Fire beats Wind, which beats Thunder. Light magic is still present and has no effect on the elemental magic.
Levels are gained by attacking (Or using healing spells if you're unit is a healer). Doing killing attacks tends to net more EXP points, and killing boss units tends to give even more. 100 points of EXP brings about a level up, where a unit has a random chance of having some stats go up by 1, or none if their luck is bad.
Changes and Additions
- Shape-shifting classes that cannot attack in their human forms.
- Healing shrubs that will slowly heal units that park on them.
- Skills that can be gained and attached to units.
- Visible Biorhythm that determines a characters luck or penalties on the battlefield.
- A few motion captured FMV sequences
- New Trinity of Magic weaknesses.
- New Easy-level difficulty (Only in North American and European versions)
- Mounted units can move after attacking/using items
- New "Shove" Command that makes a unit move another unit (Enemy or Ally) one space
- New "Order" Command that allows Ike to tell everyone to Rally near him, Halt everything, Avoid enemy, or Move to one spot.
- New "Base" before battles which combines inventory, storage, stores, support conversations and more.
- Create custom weapons at your Base.
- Classes change automatically at a level, items are used to change class early.
Fire Emblem follows Ike, a new recruit in his father's mercenary group. His company is honorable and consists of strong fighters such as the strong Titania, the blunt realist Soren and the brothers Boyd and Oscar. Travelling with the group are two children. Ike's younger sister Mist and Boyd and Oscars other brother, Rolf.
Just as Ike is allowed to be a recruit, the kingdom of Daein, a human nation, attacks their nation of Crimea, another human nation. Crimea is quickly crushed, and the royal family is slaughtered, with the exception of the Princess of Crimea, Elincia, who was kept a secret to all except other royal families to prevent a power struggle. Elincia eventually falls under the protection of Greil's Mercenaries, and they take it upon themselves to transport her to the laguz kingdom, Gallia, filled with shape-shifting animal people.
Typically, these two races are at odds, but the royal families of Gallia and Crimea have formed an alliance that their people do not necessarily follow. Their ancient contempt and prejudice against each other comes from their history of oppression against each other. First the humans (known as beorc) at the hands of the laguz, and then the laguz at the hands of the beorc. With the armies of Daein pursuing them, Ike, Greil and company must do their best, while encountering new difficulties, new allies, new enemies, and many twists along the way.
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance official site
- Planet GameCube Interview with Rich Amtower, Tim O'Leary, and Alan Averill from NOA's localization team.