Check out what we thought of the short demo from E For All.
Fire Emblem for the Wii was playable at Nintendo's E For All booth, but the demo level was very, very short. It seemed that the main reason for the kiosks was to show off the absolutely gorgeous opening cut scenes, which makes perfect sense given that the Fire Emblem gameplay remains largely unchanged.
Really, in the four or so minutes of gameplay Nintendo made available, all I discovered is that nothing in terms of gameplay has changed much since the GameCube game in the series, Path of Radiance. That kind of makes sense, seeing as how the two games share similar names. Then again, there's no need to mess with a winning formula. The grid-based, turn-based strategy RPG plays similar to the Advance Wars series, with the critical difference being that you must get through a fight with only the units you start with, and you can lose a character for good if it dies in battle.
The demo looked as if it was the first chapter of the game, and therefore it was a simple romp. Options to view tutorials on direct and indirect attacks popped up, but once the gameplay started it was a simple matter of moving your characters into position to wallop the easily felled thugs around a market square.
One battle command that I haven't noticed before Radiant Dawn is “shove." If you move one of your characters next to a friendly unit, you'll have an option to shove them away from you in a bid to move them safely out of an enemy's attack radius. This move could be exploited to give some units extra movement distance by shoving them before having them move on a turn, adding another level of strategic depth to an already deep game. I think this is an interesting option, although in the scenario I played through there was never really a point when the need to use it came up.
In all honesty, the star of the Radiant Dawn demo was the chapter-opening cinematic. You've seen the trailers before around the Internet, but seeing it in person really puts into perspective how great they look. The characters look realistic, yet are rendered with a subtle cel-shaded look. It's very impressive to watch. The story of a Fire Emblem game is one of the major forces that drives it on, and if this new story is going to be backed by some of those gorgeous movies, I can't wait to see it unfold.