Playthrough: Springtime for Cerberus

Dirge of Cerberus US Box Art

The Starlight Megaphone is pleased to present a Spring 2012 feature: Springtime for Cerberus: A Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII Playthrough.

Released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan in January of 2006 and in North America the following August, Dirge of Cerberus received mixed reviews. The second release in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII metaseries, Dirge was SquareEnix’s first attempt at the shooter genre. With roleplaying elements and real-time action inspired by Devil May Cry and Resident Evil, many JRPG fans viewed the title with understandable confusion.

Set three years after the culmination of Final Fantasy VII, Dirge follows the story of the mysterious ex-Turk Vincent Valentine. Targetted by an organisation which seeks to unleash a massively destructive force, Vincent must leap into battle, guns blazing, to once again save the planet from the forces which threaten it. Along the way, he is assisted by his former comrades who, once again, unite for the preservation of their world.

This is the last week of our two-week playthrough, in which we will aim to complete the second half of the game (roughly after the fifth or sixth hour). Use the comments thread to discuss where you are, strategies for battles, and your opinions about how things have changed, improved, or entirely shifted in action, roleplaying, and first-person console games since the original release six years ago. What do you think of the music, the graphics, the controls, and the translation? Has Dirge held up, or is it merely an antiquated relic which shows the growing pains of SquareEnix? Were the reviews justified–is it as bad as some say, or are there hidden depths?

So, we now invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone as we return to the world of Final Fantasy VII in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII!


  1. I will be playing this on Skype with SiliconNooB later tonight. Finally, I have a reason (and a directive) to finish it!

    And, to reiterate, you can join the Skype chat by following the easy instructions in the post above!


  3. OH GOD RUN!!!!

    I’m pretty sure this is one of the rare PS2 titles that support mouse and keyboard. The other is, I think, Unreal Tournament.

  4. @Mel: It’s SPRINGTIME FOR COLONS! as well.

    I mean the punctuation, not the body part.

  5. Just finished the first stage; actually had quite a bit of fun once I got the controls worked out.

    No tutorials to speak of. Ahh, 2006. How I miss you.

  6. Graphics are MUCH better then I remember them being when it was released!

  7. @Blitz: I know! And not just the cutscenes–the in-game models, too. It looks like an early PS3 game more than a late PS2 game.

  8. Except Vincent’s bed-hair on his player model. Gets on my nerves every time I see it, and I see it throughout the entire game.
    I’ve only just started, but can anyone tell me if there’s a target lock button? I haven’t played it in a while, and I can remember how to melee, but if I’m in the wrong position he goes spiralling off, making him easy pickings, especially since this game has no discernable sound effect for when you get injured or have low health.

  9. @Kenjujuu: There’s an auto-aim and a guided aim, but no target lock per se.
    Would be useful, I agree–but then ANY difficulty would be gone entirely. :D

  10. @lusi: It’s true; the thing about this game is that any difficulty is to do with trying to work with the godawful controls and gameplay mechanisms. It’s a good job Vincent has such a lovely face, otherwise I doubt I would have bought this game at all.

  11. @Kenjuju: It would not be untrue to say that the controls are the real villain of the piece. I simply CANNOT get them set up in an agreeable way.

  12. Went into the group last night, but no one was there :[

    Oh well, I don’t have this game or even a PS2 at the moment, anyway.

  13. If it weren’t for the clunky controls, bad aiming, and bad interface (seriously, give me SOME indication that my health is low!), this might actually be a solid action game…and I do mean MIGHT.

  14. @Kenjujuu: Not really, because there is no way to customise the settings. It’s a choice between two unpleasant control schemes, really.

    @Mel: I know some people have had trouble joining the group–we were there all night (I was talking to SN about DoC until early this morning. Shoot me a message on Skype and I’ll make sure you get in. We spent a considerable time arguing about whether the graphics were better or worse than FFXII.

  15. @Deimosion: It certainly has promise, and there are moments when it shines!

  16. @Lusi: Yeah, ok. Funny because I was up most of the night, too. I only saw Deimosion in the chat then the group emptied out. When do you guys plan on doing this? Every night or weekends?

  17. @Mel: I think the problem is that public users can only see other people in the chat who are not set to “Authorise First”–and most of us are set that way. Apparently Deimosion is not (spam users, GO!).

    The chat is open 24/7 until we complete our playthrough in two weeks’ time. Once you’re invited, you’ll be in the call and can just talk in it whenever you like.

    HEY OTHER READERS: You can do this too!

  18. On the subject of the voice acting, why is every female character in any show or game voiced by Mae Whitman? She’s awesome, yes, but she’s everywhere.

  19. @Kenjujuu: I hadn’t noticed, actually. But, honestly, I generally notice male voice actors much more than the female voice actors, who tend to sound the same to me.

  20. I’ve only played a few minutes of this, but I did think the keyboard mouse controls were noticeably better. Then again, I am kind of a PC Snob, so I’ll have to try it again when I start my playthrough.

  21. @Caspius: I’d notice Katara’s trademark “concerned tone” anywhere.
    @Mel: I actually read a hilarious SA of this game once I got to the hostage bit on my first playthrough and was looking for a game guide. It’s fun to ridicule, I guess. Post links!

  22. Recollections are funny things. I remebered DoC as having basically serviceable mechanics wrapped up in an aggressively sub-par setting and narrative, yet 5+ years later I am finding the loose mechanics to be easily the worst part of the experience – with the one saving grace being the involved weapon customisation.

  23. A very apt description of the setting. Technically this game might be on par with FFXII, but artistically and with respect to design, it’s no where close.

  24. I wouldn’t say that it’s technically on par exactly. I think DoC makes use of some more advanced effects than XII (particularly lighting), but the game’s geometry is pathetic and its textures are absolute garbage.

  25. Well, the environments aren’t that big either. Most of them are pretty cramped, and the outdoor ones didn’t seem nearly as large as the fields in XII. I don’t know if they employed more advanced lighting effects or not, but I was forced to make a call, I’d say XII is also technically more impressive aside from being stylistically so. But, to be fair, I am watching this game on youtube. So take that as it is.

  26. DoC does have some very impressive (and omnipresent) bloom lighting effects which bleed very pleasingly into the colour palettes of the scenes in which they occur – YouTube is unlikely to do them justice. FFXII also made use of bloom lighting, but only very, very sparingly.

  27. I’ve never been a big fan of Cait Sith, but he popped out of that Reeve suit, I laughed.

  28. Cait Sith is a characer with both an unpronounceable (properly) name and a character who is hilarious in FFVII to rename “penis”.

  29. After years of having this game in my backlog, I started it to join the playthrough. Almost done, its really short. My impressions so far: 1. The controls suck, but after you get used to them, its fun stuff. An acquired taste I guess but… 2. Not enough so to make me consider playing the extra missions or looking for the capsules. 3. The game has some of the best graphics I’ve seen on the PS2, but the music is really lackluster. 4. This game makes me really dislike Lucrecia.

  30. Another thing, I really like the gun customization but I somewhat wish that you could play a bit more with your upgrades instead of being so final. I was kinda wishy-washy at the beginning investing on various weapons but ended up focusing on the handgun which made me lose all that money as the other guns are to weak to be useful. It also left me with the constant issue of running out of bullets for my handgun and having to keep on wasting money on that. It almost makes me try a second playthrough… almost. What weapons did you choose? Or did you keep all your weapons balanced to be more versatile?

  31. I actually thought the music was fairly decent, I’d put it ahead of the graphics …

  32. Oh, its not bad. Very high production values and all that and the music itself is fitting, but even if you ask me to hum one piece from the soundtrack, I can’t do it, and I am playing the game right now. I don’t know, I guess a good soundtrack for me is something that stays with you.

  33. @Epy I’m finding the handgun to be by far the most useful weapon, though the rifle is good for sniping.

  34. I spent a large part of yesterday playing this ‘game’.

    The controls are increasingly infuriating. They seem to get worse as the game progresses. Is this possible? Is it actually happening? I am now convinced that Vincent was easier to control when I started. I can no longer aim, instead I just jiggle the sticks around in circles and press the trigger button over and over again in the hope that some of my bullets–in a gesture of mercy–find their ways into the heads of my enemies so as to end the torture of MERELY TRYING TO SHOOT THINGS.

    The characters are abysmal. I don’t mean Reeve, of course, but everyone else seems to be on emotion-heightening medication or emotion-dampening medication. And then there’s Vincent, who should probably see a shrink. …and a nose-and-throat specialist, because it sounds like he may have Emphysema.

    Why was this released? Mel reminded me that this is the IMPROVED version of the game. Improved from WHAT?

  35. I don’t know if I said it was the improved version. I don’t have my skype log in front of me right now. But I recall saying this form wasn’t the first. The first potentially starred Barret. Also, the Japanese version had a multiplayer mode that didn’t see life elsewhere since lolz ps2 online modes.

  36. The NA version vastly improved on the gameplay aspects in comparison to the JP version (if you can imagine that). In the JP version aiming was even worse, Vincent was slower, could not double jump, could not dash, could not shoot in the air and weapons were heavier. Also Limit Breaks were done with the MP bar instead of items but I kinda like that. The JP version also had this Multiplayer in which you controlled a Deepground soldier with a storyline set before DoC that expanded on the Tsviets’ background. This was removed from the NA version and the Mission Mode and the various extras were added instead.

  37. @Epy: It sounds fucking DREADFUL.

    No double-jump? No dash? No shooting in mid-air? Worse aiming?

    I cannot imagine it, honestly. It seems intolerable enough already.

  38. What gets me is the constant cut-scene after cut-scene. Sometimes, five second long cut scenes, which serve no purpose than to infuriate me. I mean, the actual gameplay might stink, but it would be awesome if I could shoot more than five enemies before Vincent has to contemplate life or whatever. Plus, my ps2 is really old, so everytime it has to load a cutscene it sounds like it’s chewing up the disc. Which I guess wouldn’t be that awful.

  39. @Kenjujuu: I would normally agree with you, but in this case the cutscenes are the periods in which I get to stop playing the game, so I look forward to them with the greatest of anticipation, and sigh every time they end.

  40. @Caspius: Except the cutscenes are almost nearly as painful. I used to like these characters, but like Epy said, it even makes you hate Lucrecia, the a Mary-Sue character who didn’t even have any lines in the first game if you missed all the side-stuff.

  41. @Kenjujuu: Agreed, but it’s still preferable to the actual gameplay!

  42. I don’t know how you guys are still doing this. I gave up on the lets play last week out of sheer grey boredom. I started watching a very funny No More Heroes 2 LP on They even threw in some crappy animes to make fun of between gameplay videos! It was infinitely more entertaining to watch than…wait, what was I watching before? I think I blocked it out.

  43. Is it the Chip and Ironicus one, Mel? They make good stuff, but I’m only really familiar with their Retsupurae stuff.

  44. It IS Chip and Ironicus! Those guys have been doing great LP work for a while now. Their MGS LPs are all hilarious. The No More Heroes 2 LP is ongoing, so it’s not done yet. Honestly, pick any game you might be interested in that they’ve LP’d, and you’ll love it. At least I did. (wow, what an endorsement!)

  45. I got to that stupid stealth mission with the kid again, and ragequit. It’s impossible to save him! Those dogs just find him too tasty and delicious!

  46. I’m on Chapter…5, I think? I’m not sure, playing this game is too painful.

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