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'Conquest' a true Fire Emblem experience

Mar 9, 2016

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Fire Emblem Fates: ConquestTo be perfectly blunt, of the three Fire Emblem Fates titles, you won't find a bad game in the bunch. That being said, Conquest has more going for it than its Birthright counterpart. Anyone who takes on Conquest, though, had best be ready for one heck of a challenge.

For the uninitiated, Conquest and Birthright tell the story of a protagonist torn between two royal families - one from the kingdom of Nohr, the other from Hoshido - that are at war with each other. The character must choose to side with one family or the other, with the story being told from a different point of view depending on what the player chooses.

Conquest is told from the point of view of the Nohrians, who are seen as the aggressors in the war. The wonderful thing about many of the Fire Emblem games - and this one is no exception - is that the storytelling is front and centre, and in Conquest in particular, things are far from black and white.

Fire Emblem Fates: ConquestAfter the opening six chapters (which are shared between both games), the Nohrian campaign highlights far more varied levels than Birthright, which basically asked players to defeat all enemies or a boss in every stage.

In Conquest, objectives include escaping a level within a certain amount of turns, seizing specific capture points, and even finishing levels keeping every character alive.

While some chapters are straightforward and involve simply routing all enemies, many of them throw numerous curveballs at players, whether it's special offensive placements (which can be used against enemies), multi-floor environments, or teammates being split up at opposite ends.

Fire Emblem Fates: ConquestFor those who simply want to experience the story first and foremost, Conquest can be easily completed by turning on the new "Phoenix" mode, which has defeated teammates respawning after each turn. But for Fire Emblem purists - and I assure you Conquest is very much designed for long-time fans of the series - the true challenge will be playing on Classic (aka "perma-death") mode. Regardless of difficulty level, you're sure to find yourself challenged.

My one significant complaint about Conquest is that it plays so similarly to its predecessor, Awakening, which was released almost exactly three years earlier. While Awakening introduced some really game-changing mechanics, such as the ability to team up with allies, Conquest mostly stays the course.

Dragon Veins, which allow players to alter the environment to their advantage (and occasional detriment), is a decent addition, but it certainly doesn't shake up the tried-and-true Fire Emblem formula. As I said with Birthright, if you're going to borrow heavily from a game, you could do a lot worse than Awakening, but I still would have liked to have seen developer Intelligent Systems step out of its comfort zone a bit more.

Fire Emblem Fates: ConquestStill, the battle system in Conquest is as intoxicating and addicting as ever. At its base level, it features a paper-rock-scissors mechanic depending on what weapons each character is using. Beyond that, though, there's layer upon layer of strategy involved, from forging weapon add-ons, to partnering up with allies, to buffs, and much, much more.

In Conquest, there's now a central point for players to congregate in between battles, simply called My Castle. As you can probably guess from its name, this is a castle area where players can chat with characters - relationship-growing is given huge importance once again here - pick up resources that allow you to buy accessories, and even just hang out in a hot spring.

Fire Emblem Fates: ConquestI loved taking my time and preparing for each battle in the castle, although it's not a fully fleshed-out base-building mini-game like in Metal Gear Solid V. That said, at least it doesn't distract from the main campaign too much.

The new features in Conquest may only subtly change the gameplay experience first offered in Awakening, but it's tough to complain about a game that presents such a wonderfully realized strategy experience.

Fire Emblem fans really can't go wrong with Conquest, which is as focused on strategy as it is on intriguing storylines, slick cutscenes, and superb music. As long as you go in knowing that the game is thoroughly unforgiving, and plan accordingly, you're in for a real treat.

 

Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest
Format: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site: http://fireemblemfates.nintendo.com/conquest/

Rating: 8.5 / 10

 
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