First let me start by saying the picture above is not mine. However that being said I must admit that I have recently become a bit of a strategy guide whore. It all started with Skyrim as I played and tried to navigate my way through the massive world Bethesda built, I found myself spending as much time on the internet seeking help as I did in the actual game. Now in today's age of internet, fan pages and game wikis, I know there seems to be no info that can't be grabbed free of charge on the internet.
With that being said however, there is simply something about a beautifully designed strategy guide chock-full of nice little extras that still stands apart. So, here is my effort to convince you out there in PAUSED! Nation that not only are strategy guides not cheating, but they are also well worth the extra cash.
MORE THAN JUST A WALK THROUGH
While when strategy guides may have started out as your basic step-by-step tutorial of how to navigate through a game, claiming and finding all the little things hidden in the shadows, they are so much more now. With that info so readily available on your cell phone, guide publishers had to deliver something more, and the evolution they have gone through has been amazing.
Guides are now beautifully designed and laid out with tons of exclusive artwork, and massive fold-out maps. Above are some shots of my guides for Batman: Arkham Origins and Skyrim. The Batman guide came with 4 bonus character prints that are awesome, and a great add-on. If you are a true fan of the game, these small perks pay for the cost of the guide alone, and we haven't even begun to talk about game content!
In depth character profiles are another huge plus to owning a guide. If you are not as immersed in the lore of a specific franchise or genre, these guides often include detailed looks back through previous games as well as the characters and histories that exist within the game. Again, this is especially appealing to me with a game like Batman, as I am such a huge fan of the character. You can never have enough Batman info, and with so many retellings it's neat having a new take on a classic favorite.
This is also true for games that may not be as ingrained in pop-culture, but find some rooting in actual history. The Assassin's Creed franchise immediately comes to mind here. Whether it be the crusades, renaissance, American revolution or the days of rum-running pirates, the franchise has defined blurring the lines between these rich fantasy stories and world history. With the guide for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag I can not only read about the back stories of the fictional characters in the game, but also gain some historical context for some that actually existed in that era, like ol' Blackbeard himself. Just another way that publishers are making these books worth the effort, and it works.
Lastly, let's say that you are intrigued by all these great additions to a beautiful print book, but you still hold fast that print is dead, and the interwebs is the only way. Well, publishers such as Prima got you covered. With my purchase of the guides for Skyrim and ACIV I got not only the epic, hard cover guides bursting with extras, but also access to a fully digital online guidebook with exclusive, interactive maps! That's right, two guides for the price of one. Now I can enjoy by print book, but still access all my info on the go with the digital version as well. Come on folks, at just over $20 what's not to love...and again...we haven't even mentioned the game content!
***Side Note*** I know many of you are looking at the picture above and wondering, "How huge is that guide?" It's a good question and the answer is, it's massive. I traded in the collector's edition I bought when the game first released for the "Legendary Edition" once all the DLC's dropped, and it is now packed with over 1,200 pages of RPG greatness. Here is a little shot I took to give you scale...that's right, it's almost as thick as an iPhone 4 is wide...awesome! Oh, and yes that is a PS1 you see, thanks for noticing. Anyone trying to get down on some Crash Bandicoot racing, or perhaps a little Tekken?
DON'T WORRY, THERE ARE STILL EPIC WALK THROUGHS
Sure, my guide for Diablo III came with an awesome, metal bookmark with the Diablo logo beautifully carved into the top. But it also came with detailed looks at each stage of the game and advice on how to best equip for any given battle. This is all great information, and the truth is with games of this size there is so much to explore and find that you would never be able to do it on your own. If you are an achievement hunter like me there is no way you don't get all your money's worth from a guide book. I would never know where I could mine for the good I need for my epic armor, or what potions a blue night winged moth can help me make, but with my trusty guide book, now I know.
The truth is we use "strategy guides" all the time in life. They helps us to get the most out of our smartphones, take the most beautifully composed photos and even let us know how much air to put in our tires. Why wouldn't we use them to drain every last drop of entertainment out of our $60 games. Sure they might set you back a few bucks, but just over $20 for hard cover editions with loads of extras, access to online maps and content, and detailed and illustrated walk throughs that help me get all I can out of a game I love, priceless.
So there you have it, my thoughts on why strategy guides are not only not cheating, but are also worth the money. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this though, do you agree, what are some of your favorites, do you hate strategy guides and if so why the hate? You can always reach us by commenting below, or...
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