When it comes to crafting Final Fantasy guides, Bradygames has a shaky history. They have a few hits but also a few misses. Luckily, the Crisis Core guide doesn't miss. It still suffers from some of the follies of previous guides, but at least its a helpful tool in many respects.
The guide begins with an introduction to the storyline and then quickly jumps into the characters section. This brings us to the first and quite possibly only major problem with the guide, there are tons of spoilers almost from the moment you open it. The characters section explains more than it should about some characters. While it's nice that it refreshes your mind on some tidbits of Final Fantasy VII, it also gives away a bit to the plot of Crisis Core. There's nothing major here, at least.
After the characters section we get into the game basics. If you're confused on anything in Crisis Core, this guide does a great job of explaining and helping to understand the system of the game and it does it without wasting too much time. It's a well organized section that hits all the important points. On another note, the biggest attraction in this section is easily the coverage of DMW. If you're confused in anyway about this new unique system, the guide explains it very well.
Afterwards we get into the meat and potatoes of the guide. The walkthrough. This is where the guide has that major hit coming to it. If you don't like spoilers, this guide is full of them. The walkthrough is divided into chapters, and at the beginning of each chapter the guide feels the need to explain the situation. While it avoids spoiling a few major plot twists, it takes away some of the fun. There are also spoilers throughout the main text of the walkthrough. So far, there's nothing incredibly major, but there is enough to spoil some of the fun of the game.
Otherwise, the walkthrough is almost perfect. At the beginning of each chapter they give you a step by step run down of what it is you'll be doing throughout the chapter and then explain it in more detail throughout the main sections. The walkthrough is extremely organized and has maps to go along with it. The maps are too detailed. They were pulled straight from the game itself, but they do point out the location of items, save points etc. They also have some fairly good boss strategies listed here. In short, if you really need a leg up, the walkthrough helps out.
When the walkthrough is finally done with, there is a huge section dedicated to the missions in the game. Each mission has stats for the enemies, a brief description, a map and a strategy. Since missions are fairly small and straightforward, there's not much to say here, hence, the mission strategies are pretty short and small, save for the strategy for Minerva. While the mission section is helpful, there's quite a bit of page flipping in navigating it
Then we get into the Materia section. There's a breakdown of Materia fusing here, which can really help players out, and there's also a breakdown of each and every Materia. This is also a nice lead into all those charts that are pretty much standard in every RPG guide.
The Bestiary is fairly detailed, but much like the missions, will require a huge amount of page flipping. Thankfully the basic stats you need are provided for monsters int he walkthrough because the bestiary is also not in alphabetical order like it is in most RPG guide books. Rather they're divided by their families. Chances are you won't need the bestiary at least, but it's there in case you do
And after all this detail, we finally get into all the bonuses and secret goodies of the guide. The secrets chapter entitled "23 Wishes" serves to not only tell you a couple of secrets, but let you in on a bit of trivia as well. There are potential spoilers here, but once more, it's nothing too major. There's also an expansive art gallery if you're curious, as well as a doubled sided foldout.
Overall, this is a great companion to Crisis Core, as long as you keep in mind that you're getting a few spoilers along the way. If you can deal with that, you've found the perfect guide. If you can't, finish the game before investing.