A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game involves mild but frequent fantasy battles. While the violence is relatively tame, characters who perish remain dead for the rest of the game -- a significant and potentially unsettling departure from most games. The high difficulty level could frustrate players who have never played a turn-based strategy game before. Because of this difficulty, we set the age at 11.
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What's it about?
On the surface, FIRE EMBLEM: RADIANT DAWN, a sequel to the GameCube's Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, is just another turn-based strategy title. It's a chess-like experience in which you shuffle units with varying skills and movement abilities,\" a defining trait of the Fire Emblem brand.
Every unit at your command has his or her own backstory and compelling, ongoing drama -- that is, until he or she dies. If it's a primary protagonist who perishes, it's game over. But if any of the dozens of secondary characters bites the dust, the game continues and he or she is gone forever, their story cut prematurely short as a direct result of your shortcomings as a commander. If the dead characters were among your more powerful units, you'll sorely miss them in future missions.
Is it any good?
Many players replay battles with an aim to make it through with all their beloved characters intact. But take our advice and do this sparingly. As in all Fire Emblem games, Radiant Dawn is best enjoyed as it was designed to be played: with unpredictable, melancholy death lurking around every corner. Not only does it make battles more emotionally charged, it also forces you drum up better, more prudent strategies to ensure your heroes' survival.
However, it also makes an already difficult game much more challenging. Fire Emblem games have always required a keen tactical mind capable of thinking several moves in advance and keeping tabs on each unit's unique skills and weapons. However, brute strength is also required, and if you've lost your most powerful units, some missions will become an exercise in frustration.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how death is presented in video games. Why do most games simply allow characters to come back to life when they die? Does this idiosyncrasy make video game stories less believable than tales presented in other media, such as books and movies? Does the fact that most of this game's characters remain deceased when they die make it more believable? Does the threat of permanent death have an impact on your emotional connection with them?
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