Batman: Arkham Knight Strategy Guide Review

Batman: Arkham Knight strategy guide reviewIt’s almost eerie how closely the strategy guide for Batman: Arkham Knight mirrors the game itself. Like its namesake, the guide is super-sexy and packed full of delightful surprises. Unfortunately, like the game itself, the book starts to fall apart in the third act, holding it back from being one of the all-time greats.

The Collector’s Edition of the Batman: Arkham Knight strategy guide is elegance personified. There’s an air of mystery and sophistication with the simple black cover, and the lithographic title adds a dash of playfulness and fun. It’s said you should never judge a book by its cover, but when the cover is this nice it at least deserves a nod. The book also comes with lithograph prints of some of the game’s characters, as well as the Batmobile, all of which look absolutely stunning. They’re of a quality that it wouldn’t be out-of-line to proudly hang them on your wall, they look that good.

Things only get better as you start digging into the content of the guide itself, which is chock full of gorgeous art from the game and in-depth descriptions of both Batman’s abilities, as well as the foes he’s about to face on this particular Halloween in Gotham. As you progress through the game’s story the guide pulls out character profiles in order to quickly bring you up to speed and build a bit more color into the experience, as well as doling out tips and tricks for new abilities and gadgets as they unlock. All these little touches add to an expertly-paced, informative walkthrough that does just enough handholding without being condescending. It’s a fine tightrope, and the guide walks it expertly.

Another small but appreciated flourish is the guide’s ability to largely avoid spoilers throughout. Arkham Knight is a twisty, turny game and there are a lot of impactful moments that could be potentially ruined if you read ahead in a book that plays fast and loose with the story. Impressively, the guide largely sidesteps this, so even if you flip to the wrong page or read ahead a bit it’s unlikely you’ll have any part of the game ruined.

Beyond the main story the strategy guide also meticulously details each of the game’s Most Wanted side-missions, listing locations, strategies and special considerations for taking out each of Gotham’s most-dangerous villains in their respective multi-part quests. While the guide is comprehensive, this is also where the first imperfections start to show, as it sometimes fails to point out that specific quests cannot be completed until certain points in the game. If you’re the type of player who likes to take a break from the story in order to knock out some missions along the way it can be frustrating to hit a hard stopping point in certain missions because they’re functionally impossible to finish until later. It would have been helpful if the guide had broken down the missions by chapter in which a certain section could be completed, because as it stands now it just assumes you’ve finished the main story and are doing everything after Gotham’s primary threats have been thwarted.

As I tore through the guide I was debating whether this might be one of the best ever created, in spite of its minor shortcomings. I found myself happily opening it up every time I booted up the game, keeping it close for reference, and sometimes flipping to the Arkham Universe preview in the back, which contains even more great artwork and a look back at the series as a whole. It was all going so well, at least until I hit the Collectibles chapter.

In most games the collectibles aren’t that big of a deal, typically amounting to little more than an Achievement and maybe an XP boost if found. However, in Batman: Arkham Knight, they play a key role in the Riddler’s Most Wanted mission, which in turn must be finished in order to see the game’s full ending. Therefore, I was crestfallen when I turned to this section in my hunt for Riddler’s 240+ collectibles and found a slapped-together, painfully unhelpful guide.

First off, rather than utilizing the in-game maps and icons to list out where the various riddles, trophies, and destructibles are located, the guide instead opts to create its own maps with numbered, colored boxes to denote locations. This is already slightly confusing, as you have to juggle in your mind what the various shades stand for, and flip across multiple pages to find the corresponding entry in the guide.

More egregious than the lackluster maps is the barebones entries for each of the riddles, which are practically useless. Each entry is comprised of a tiny screenshot that provides absolutely no context, alongside maybe a sentence-long explanation of how to attain a given trophy, and that’s if you’re lucky. The entries are vague, cramped and mostly unhelpful, and the entire section is a massive disappointment. I very quickly gave up on this section entirely, instead opting for an IGN wiki since it actually provided insight on how to solve the trickier puzzles.

The Batman: Arkham Knight strategy guide does almost everything right, with a big emphasis on the almost. Still, it’s one of the more informative, helpful and ridiculously good-looking books out there, so it’s easy to recommend. The Knight is dark and full of terrors, but this guide will light your path.

SGR Rating: 4/5

Author: Michael Owen & Joe Epstein
Publisher: BradyGames
Editions available: Paperback and Collector’s Edition
Acquired via publisher

Unboxing Video: Final Fantasy Strategy Guide Boxed Set

I’ve been told by readers and strategy guide fans that the Final Fantasy strategy guide boxed set from Prima Games should be avoided at all costs. It’s poorly done. They copy and paste from the older guides. There’s a blatant mistake in one of the character pages.

Well, I can’t exactly do my job if I take all of these complaints at face value and not look at the books myself. Besides, I’m a huge collector, so of course I’m going to buy these books, mistakes be damned. So I have them, I’ve looked through them, and I compared the FFVII guide to the original.

Here are my thoughts:

The too long, didn’t watch version is this: it ain’t that bad of a boxed set, people. Put down the torches and pitchforks.

LEGO Jurassic World Strategy Guide Review

LEGO Jurassic World strategy guide reviewChris was the first one to foray into the video review waters after his tragic fight with that unicorn, and now I feel it is my turn to jump in. I had so much to say about the LEGO Jurassic World strategy guide and so much I wanted to show that video seemed to be the best format. That and I’m super lazy; you think I wanted to scan in all of those pages? Isn’t that why I use strategy guides in the first place, because I am super lazy (and I like to collect things)?

Regardless of my laziness, I had a lot I wanted to show to help explain exactly why I’m so disappointed in this strategy guide, which breaks my heart to write. It would be one thing if Prima Games slacked on all of their LEGO game guides, but they normally don’t. This book screams of a rushed product, something I noticed with the game as well when I reviewed it. The strategy guide’s only saving grace was the handheld section, which was everything the console section should have been.

Here’s why.

SGR Rating: 3/5

Authors: Rick Barba and Michael Knight
Publisher: Prima Games
Editions available: Paperback
Acquired via Publisher

Bloodborne Strategy Guide Review

Bloodborne Strategy Guide ReviewDue to a battle wound inflicted while battling a unicorn, I sustained a wound to my finger and thus typing is not really a thing I want to do right now. Thanks to this unicorn inflicted injury, I decided to do a video review of the Bloodborne strategy guide from Future Press. Actually, I kind of think I want this to become a thing that I keep doing! What do you think? Would you like to see more video reviews?

Video Strategy Guide Review:

SGR Rating 4.5/5

Author: Anwar Hassan, Bailey Strauss, Franz von Eisenheim, Lucas Hofstatter, Marcus Sanders
Publisher: Future Press
Editions Available: Collector’s Edition
Acquired via Publisher

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Strategy Guide Review

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD strategy guide reviewFinal Fantasy Type-0 HD is the most un-Final Fantasy game I’ve played since Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. It’s action-based with random encounters AND not-so random battles, it has similar side quest system where the quests have to be sought out, there’s a limited hub world, and you make abilities more powerful by synthesizing materials. It’s absolutely insane, not much makes sense, and the difficulty is brutal to say the least. On top of that, the game is meant to be played multiple times, as that is the only way to uncover everything or even complete every last side quest. Like Lightning Returns, I am not sure how it is possible to find everything on your own, so a strategy guide seems to be a very high requirement when it comes to uncovering every little secret and completing every task and side quest. I still think this is the case, but unfortunately, Prima Games’ Final Fantasy Type-0 HD strategy guide fell a bit short of the goal due to poor organization, inefficient information placement, missing information, and a lack of an index.

Since I didn’t receive the strategy guide until I was nearly done with the game, I knew I missed out on several key pieces, and the strategy guide walkthrough was very kind to tell me just how much I did miss in the six chapters I played without it. So many side quests, so many tasks, so many Rubicus entries, and I wasn’t able to complete the Kazusa and Emina sub-events since I didn’t know the trick to completing them. The strategy guide also taught me that I really went about the real-time strategy sorties the wrong way by choosing characters that made the excursions far more difficult than they should have been. I can also say that the strategy guide taught me how to embrace Jack, the one character I loathed using, and how to use his stances and abilities to easily achieve breaksight and killsight with enemies.

And that’s really all the nice things I have to say about the strategy guide (well, that and the chocobo breeding tips).

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD strategy guide

Yes, yes, this is pretty helpful, actually.

Obviously, I was able to get through the game and survive it, and a lot of that was due to the strategy guide’s tips and tricks, especially in the last never-ending dungeon of doom. However, while I would have been able to find and complete many of the side quests with the guide’s assistance, there are plenty I would not have due to its vague information.

For example, one task requests that you bring back three mauve phantoma. Okay, so how do I get mauve phantoma? According to the strategy guide under the “Phantom” section, mauve phantoma can be gathered from defeated enemies. Gee, that’s a huge help. Mind telling me which enemies? Oh wait, there’s a Drop Rate Chart that will point out which enemies drop mauve phantoma and the likelihood rate, right? Nope. Mauve phantoma can be harvested from “Generic Enemy 2″ with magic-based kills. Time to turn to the Bestiary section and find out what in the world Generic Enemy 2 is. Turns out that Generic Enemy 2 is a mid-level run-of-the-mill enemy, which appears to be anything but a boss. I can’t believe this method is the most efficient one they found. For the record, the reward received for bringing back those three mauve phantoma is not worth this headache.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD strategy guide

So I need the Setzer Airship to get here. And how do I get this airship?

The strategy guide’s biggest disappointment is in explaining how to acquire the Setzer airship. This is an Achievement/Trophy, and it’s the only way to reach the Agito Tower in the middle of the Rubrum map. Learning how to get it should not take heavy reading to even find where it is mentioned. The first place I saw it mentioned was in the Side Quests section, where it lists the trials of the Agito Tower and comments that the only way to reach the Tower is with the airship. There is no reference where to turn in the guide to acquire said airship. I pored over the walkthrough, looking for any mention of the airship in the main walkthrough, the side quests, or the trials. I finally resorted to looking it up online, where it directed me to a trial only available in Chapter 7. Opened the strategy guide to Chapter 7, and no, there is no mention of this particular trial. Other trials are listed as for the second playthrough, so where in the world is this one? I looked through the Second Playthrough portion, just in case, and lo and behold, there is the wayward trial. This trial should have been listed in the original walkthrough with the “second playthrough” label slapped on it like it has others, AND it should be referenced in the Agito Tower walkthrough in the side quests.

As for more information about the trials, they aren’t even in the Side Quests section at all, despite the main walkthrough saying that they are! There is also no appendix for the Achievements and Trophies, and no index. An index that included every Side Quest title, Task title, Trial title, collectible, etc. would have made me overlook this issue with the Setzer airship, because then the airship would be in the index.

I am honestly not sure if this strategy guide was rushed, hastily put together at the last minute, or just flat out disorganized, because this Final Fantasy Type-0 HD strategy guide is not a typical Prima Games product when it comes to Final Fantasy games. It will get anyone through the game once, that is for certain, but as for helping users find everything and find it all easily? Well, you’ll find the collectibles with no problems and breed chocobos like a pro, but be prepared for a lot of page flipping and perhaps some online assistance. That said, it may be best to just use online help only.

SGR Rating: 2.5/5

Authors: Garritt Rocha and Nick von Esmarch
Publisher: Prima Games
Editions Available: Collector’s Edition
Acquired via Publisher