Crisis Deluxe

Darn you Crytek! I realized I have been misspelling the word “Crisis” in most of my posts about Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core. I will keep the mistakes as they are. That will teach me.

I’m pretty much at the very last 5% with this game. I’m at the final chapter. I have done almost all side missions. Right now, I’m getting prepared to face the extra difficult side-boss. My character is so ridiculously overpowered that I kill most of the story bosses with one hit now.

Actually, the game is playing for itself as we speak. To get a specific piece of equipment I’m trying to unlock all “memories”. These are little cut-scenes that sometimes show up when a certain random special attack triggers. It’s actually a blunt but interesting way of mixing story tidbits with gameplay. They just fall a bit flat since you can’t review them after you unlocked them. Also, unlocking a specific memory depends a lot on random chance. One recipe I found online is to equip you character in a way that his health regenerates automatically, starting a mission where you need to defeat a huge amount of weak enemies and letting the game run for itself. The special attacks that unlock memories are triggered automatically. So sooner or later, all the memories will unlock. I always feel that it’s a sure sign of a deeply flawed game when it doesn’t even need a player to run and even rewards for doing that.

But I wanted to mention something else. Since I invested so much time in the game, I thought I could just as well get the official guide and the special edition. Here they are!

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Artbook and Guide

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Special Edition Box and Official Guide.

The special edition comes in a stylish hardcover-style box. Except for the standart-issue game, it includes a UMD case-sized hardcover art book. I usually try to get every art book I can. They are wonderful resources to get glimpses behind the scenes of game development. The games industry is very secretive, so this is quite a big deal. And that’s especially true for a game with such high production values as Crisis Core. I recently played a chunk of the story and it reminded me how incredibly polished the characters and character animations look. With the PSP being at the end of it’s life cycle, Crisis Core will definitively be remembered as one of the titles that pushed the envelope for this system.

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Artbook 1

Concept art in the special edition art book.

That being said, the special edition art book for Crisis Core could be a lot better. The main problem seems to be simply the format. There is just so much you can do when your art book is the size of a UMD case. So for example, there are some storyboards at the end. They are postage-stamp-sized and barely legible. To add insult to injury, orientation is portrait where most of the real-estate disappears in the fold. The luxurious hardcover sadly contributes to a page-count of merely 49. It feels like a classy brochure, not like a real art book.

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Artbook 2

More concept art in the special edition art book.

But I also got the Bradygames guide. Being a standard A4 game guide, it doesn’t have any issues with the format. And in fact, it’s one of the better game guides I had.

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Guide

A typical page from the Official Guide.

There is a lot of information in there. This includes a tiny guide for every one of the 300 side-missions. There is a neat foldout table to explain the mind-boggling Materia fusion system. Personally, I love the tiny details such as a small world map in the corner of every dungeon map. There is no world map in Crisis Core. But all the locations are known from Final Fantasy 7 and that’s where this information is probably coming from.

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Guide Detail

Nice details – Crisis Core doesn’t have an overworld. That information must have been cross-referenced from Final Fantasy 7.

Of course not all is perfect. There is a tiny guide for every side mission. Sadly, the most difficult boss in the game is also a side mission and the guide for it is shoe-horned into a tiny text box. The hints for that particular boss are also lacking. They explain roughly what kind of equipment to bring but not how and where to get all that stuff. That’s actually a pretty substantial miss as many of the items are very difficult to get. I’ve seen similar issues with other guide books. And it may be one of the reasons why grassroots guides like GameFAQs are in some ways superior to guide books. They are more pragmatic. They explain the game from the perspective of the things that players are most likely to try to achieve, rather than trying to create a systematic, comprehensive reference book. One could say that GameFAQs tend to be inductive while guide books tend to be deductive.

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Guide (Minverva)

Minverva is one of the toughest bosses in the entire Final Fantasy franchise. There are entire FAQs dedicated to it. Considering this, it’s somewhat under-represented in the Official Guide.

Finally, the game guide also features a couple of pages of concept art. They are similar to the tiny special edition art book but the larger format really makes the drawing shine. It’s only 10 pages but there is more concept art spread throughout the book.

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Guide (Concept Art)

The Official Guide is the better art book.

The game is a bit dated so none of the items are especially expensive. But even so, it doesn’t seem like the special edition was quite worth the trouble. When looking for concept art from the game, I recommend getting just the game guide and skipping the special edition.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

One response to “Crisis Deluxe”

  1. Matt

    I can sympathize with the problems of small art books. I pre-ordered the last Assassin’s Creed game mainly for the art book but it also came with a jack in the box making it pretty expensive. The book turned out to also be about the size of a UMD case. Maybe a bit shorter and wider, like if you squished it down. Those detailed, panoramic environment sketches lose something when their only 4 inches tall.

    The good news is that the Deus Ex book seems to be full sized!


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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