Top critical review
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Everything you need, inconveniently aranged
on February 12, 2014
Having spent some time with this guide, I find it very hard to give it a positive rating. It does contain everything you need for your adventure, but it organizes it in a way that I find to be less than ideal for using.
For example, it has a map section of every area. Great. But it doesn't put the item chests on the map. Item chests are only listed on a fold out map that is about 4 pieces of paper in size. It has a timeline section, listing optimal actions to do at every moment to ensure maximum efficiency. Great. But the entries in it read like "do main quest 1-1, see page XX". Hrm. So the main quest actions are listed in a separate section. Also, all of the side quests are in a third section. And all of the bulletin board quests are in a fourth section. And as if 4 written guide sections and 2 map (one with are names in the book, and the other the fold out map) there is a 5th written section that contains optimal play through in a chart format. Granted that this chart is for new game +, it says that it can also be used for a regular new game. As I said, this guide is comprehensive in listing its details, but by having everything in its own section nicely organized, it leads to flipping back and forth between 4-5 book marks and a map that takes up 1/3 of my couch. I would have preferred something that incorporates all of the events in one section, even if the additional sections were left for reference simply to avoid all of the constant flipping.
A secondary beef I have is the guide is a bit lacking in specific detail. It doesn't tell you 'save 2000 gil for a coming quest' but two pages later will tell you to buy something (which costs 2,000 gil) and expect you to have it. Little nuances like that bug me.
Some of the ancillary sections, such as the item and garb list pages are printed in about size 6 font. If I hold it up real close, I can read it, but otherwise it is way too small to be useful. It's obvious they wanted the data all on 1-2 pages, but they sacrificed readability for paper space.
Having listed the bad, there is a lot of good in this guide. Each section is independently a very well organized and very detailed section. Each side quest has a map showing where it is, where to go, what to do.
The map fold out is detailed, but I would have preferred it be incorporated with the area maps.
The monster section contains pictures of all the monsters, so it is nice for the art.
The two book marks advertised are just that. Two small card-stock bookmarks. I liked the ribbon book marks in the XIII-2 guide more, but that is pure aesthetic.
The Art section that is extra for the collector's edition is rather disappointing. Not much to add on it. It has some pictures and comments from the art director. Some are hand sketches, others are digital renderings. Some are repeats of art already found in other sections.
If I had to go back and choose between the regular edition and the collector's edition, I don't think the CE was worth $15 extra (list price).
~CE art section is rather disappointing
~'special bookmarks' feel like grade-school bookmarks
-$15 more than regular guide without a lot of extra material based on the list price
-lots of page flipping for doing the main story
-info is put on a fold out map instead of the in guide map
-guide doesn't always guide you well