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A strategy guide isn't always worth buying. Sometimes the game doesn't warrant an in-depth dissection, and sometimes the guide itself is just doesn't convey the information well. Neither of those things are true with Final Fantasy XIII-2, making the strategy guide a wise purchase for anyone who wants to spend significant time with the game.
If you just want to blow through the main story and be done with the game, you can probably survive without Final Fantasy XIII-2's guide (published by Piggyback Interactive). However, if you want to get all of the fragments, fight the hardest foes, and recruit the best monsters, this guide is a must-have. While it has a lot of useful information and analysis, there are three things in particular that will be valuable for completionists.
1. Completion TimelineThis section lets you know exactly what you should be paying attention to in each chapter in order to get all of the fragments, wild artifacts, and noteworthy monsters. It even points out lucrative farming opportunities if you want to rack up CP or gil. The timeline is divided by episode, and then further broken down into individual parts. It also cross-references other sections of the guide to point you toward more detailed info if you need it. This a great example of a strategy guide giving you something that you can't get anywhere else; online FAQs may have similar information, but you won't find it laid out and color-coded in such a clear and accessible fashion. A trophy/achievement fanatic will probably wear these nine pages ragged.
2. Monster Collection/GrowthThis isn't just a bestiary that lays out the monsters' stats (though the guide has one of those, too). This section organizes everything you want to know about taming and growing a pack of monster allies. It has graphs illustrating the different growth patterns, maximum and minimum stats, suggestions for where to farm the items you use to level the monsters, and a breakdown of the most effective passive abilities that you fuse into your favorite allies (and which other monsters bestow them). Because there are a ton of monsters (and some of them aren't very good), the guide includes suggestions of noteworthy monsters organized by role, so you know which ones to focus your efforts on obtaining. The whole process of collecting and leveling monsters is complicated, but all of the useful information here makes it less overwhelming.
3. Character OptimizationWhen you're leveling your characters in the Crystarium, you may notice that there are large nodes an small nodes. Depending on the role you're advancing when you light them up, large nodes provide an extra bonus to magic, strength, or HP. This results in a very flexible system for customizing your stats…but some choices are better than others. If you want to squeeze the best stats possible out of Noel and Serah, the strategy guide has a terrific outline for optimizing their growth. Laying out exactly what roles you should level, what you should boost with large nodes, and what expansion bonuses you should take, these charts ensure that your characters will be well-suited to taking down the game's most advanced challenges.
I've already played through the game (read my review), but now that I have all of this information at my fingertips, I'm looking forward to going through it again and maximizing the experience. If that sounds like fun to you, you should probably get the Final Fantasy XIII-2 strategy guide, too.
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