Wii-November 5, 2007
A direct sequel to Path of Radiance (sporting the same core gameplay system, similar graphics, and beatiful cinematic scenes), Radiant Dawn takes place three years after the events of PoR.
From Wikipedia, since I don't remember anything about PoR's story-
Three years have passed since the Daein-Crimea war. Both Daein and Crimea are still stabilizing after that war. Daein is ruled by the Begnion occupation forces, after Crimea relinquished rule over their defeated country, and they are oppressed by the imperial soldiers. In the first of the game's four parts, a group of chivalrous thieves, which includes "the silver-haired maiden," Micaiah, fight Begnion's oppression and attempt to liberate Daein and bring back power to the royal family.
The game opens up the first of its four parts with a focus on Micaiah (a female, light magic using lord), and previously tremendously terrible unit Sothe (a bit too much midriff for my tastes, but anything's an improvement for him, right?).
You can expect to see basically all of the familiar faces from Dawn's Gamecube predecessor, and have them all fight once again under your command. In fact, there are more returning characters in the game's cast than new members.
In addition to the PoR crew, Radiant Dawn carries on its weapon forging system, the bonus experience system, and expands on the game's skill system, with varying capabilities and capacities for all of your troops, even allowing skills to be passed around instead of outright deleted.
The Laguz return, with their ability to transform into powerful beasts, but are now capable of fighting in their human forms as well. They're really not very good in either capacity, for the most part.
Other new weapons in the game include staves, which allow your healers to counterattack when available, as well as dark magic and knives, which both also gain their own skill categories. The (re)introduction of dark magic allows for the (re)introduction of the secondary magic triangle of Light-Dark-Anima in addition to the Wind-Fire-Lightning triangle.
The support system has seen a small facelift as well, being split into buddy and bond type pairings. Buddies act in principle like those seen in PoR and the GBA games, giving characters small conversations, and stat boosts depending on their elemental alignments. This time there are no predefined limits on who can support with whom, but this comes at a cost. Characters may only have a buddy support with one other character at any given time, and the depth of the conversations is not up to par with previous iterations of the series (except Shadow Dragon's teehee).
Bond supports act like they did in PoR, which...I honestly don't remember anything about. Ike and Mist probably had one... (+5 or +10 bonus to dodge and critical rate, when close to each other)
There's now a third promotion available to Beorc chracters, using a special promotion item. NOTE-Promotion item made optional in US release (the method to obtain them was so dumb anyway. What a terrific change!).
While the core gameplay remains largely unchanged, altitude is said to now take on an important role in the outcome of battle (There are certain points in most maps where ranged units may take advantage of terrain which can be made inaccessible by their presence, basically).
For standard and lower difficulty levels, quicksaving is allowed during battle. As in an actual save, not just suspended game data which is erased upon continuation. Makes permanent deaths quite a bit less swear-inducing, so this might be an ideal entry point into the series. (Not really, because it's hard enough that you'll swear anyway)
As far as the interconnectivity of the two games, having played PoR will obviously help with the enjoyment of Radiant Dawn, but is not a requirement. Dawn's story is largely straightforward enough to stand on its own, with Path of Radiance serving as a (heavy) backstory. But the lack of that backstory shouldn't lead to too much confusion.
There's also the possibility to transfer save data from PoR to get bonuses in Radiant Dawn, which provides additional bond supports, support archives, and stat bonuses. From my cursory glance, the stat and support bonuses are nice enough, but nothing game breaking, while the support archive is just a bonus.
NOTE: Having an 'easy' save from PoR causes some problems with the process. (If you have this problem, you can contact Nintendo and get a replacement disc, I believe)
First battle (should just loop into class montage and a cinematic scene)-
Alternate youtube link-
Ah, the preliminary random axe-wielding bandits throwing themselves all over your swords, just how every Fire Emblem should start out.
Bringing back the entire cast of PoR isn't something I'm completely infatuated with. I mean, I like returning characters (loved Suikoden 2), and love pairs of interrelated Fire Emblem games, but having the old cast outnumber the new roster for a new
game is a bit offputting. PoR had a decently strong cast, but I'm not sure that
strong (Who am I kidding...so much hearts for Ilyana).
From what I've seen of the characters, the redesigns are a mixed bag. I love some of them (Ike), but hate some others (a number of the females...).
Aside from that, I'm liking everything. The battles and graphics look improved (the cutting away to the experience bar before enemies die adds a type of cinematic flare that's impressing me way more than it should), and the animations are more pleasing to the eye than it's immediate predecessor, though still trailing behind the series' SNES and GBA iterations. That 'player phase' music is probably the best the series has ever seen, and the music overall is definitely easy to listen to. There's even an all-aerial battle.
I really hope there's an option to turn off the damage and 'miss' overlays for battle, though... [There isn't...boooo]