If you've played the first Fire Emblem, then you already know that this is a must have. But it doesn't matter if you're new, because the stories are unrelated.
The story is good, but a little cliched. There once was an evil monster who terrorized the world, but then he was sealed up by the Sacred Stone. Fast forward to the present. There are six kingdoms, five of which keep the Sacred Stones. The country of Renais has shared a friendly relationship with the Grado empire, until one day Grado invades. The prince and princess of Renais, Ephraim and Eirika, go looking for help from other nations, and eventually find out that the Grado emporer is trying to destroy the Sacred Stones and release the evil of old upon the world. So of course, they have to stop him.
Now on to the gameplay. It's excellent. It's pretty much the same as the first Fire Emblem. You direct your units on the field, but you have to be careful of the enemy's range. The weapon and magic triangles return, which, if you're not familiar with it, is like a game of rock-paper-scissors. You can upgrade your characters' classes when they get to a high enough level, as in the last game, but now you can choose between classes. For example, a myridian can become a swordmaster or an assassin. Also, if your characters are too weak, there are optional battles with monsters, and places where you defeat monsters floor by floor.
Graphics are good overall. The field animations are average, but the battle scenes are nice and fluid. All the characters look beautiful. No pretty cutscene stills this time around, though.
And the characters are wonderful. This is my favorite thing about Fire Emblem. Each unit is an individual with his own face and personality. Then you have supports. When you put two compatible units together for a while, they can have a support conversation. Through this you learn a little more about the characters, but it also improves their stats when they are near each other on the field. Even more interesting, if you have a high enough support between a male and female character, they'll probably get married in the end. There is, however, a down side to the characters' individuality. It makes it so you don't want to lose any of them, so every time someone dies, you have to start the chapter over. Unless you just want to beat the game and aren't concerned about the characters.
Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, sound is great. The music is good, and appropriate for whatever the situation is. And the sound effects are nice, especially the one for a successful hit. THWACK!
The replay value is good. Ephraim and Eirika split up during the game, and you'll need to play both scenarios to get the full story. Plus if you're like me, you will want every single support conversation for the archive, which takes a very long time.
Nice extras. There's a sound room, and after you beat the game you can view the support conversations you've unlocked. There are also multiplayer options.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is one of my favorite games. It is excellent, and although it is somewhat easier than the last game, it's still hard. A must for RPG fans, but be ready for a challenge.