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---Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII---
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Weapon and Part Comparisons and Recommendations

-OR-

What is the best way to upgrade my guns as I progress through Normal mode to 
Ex Hard mode?


by The_Key_of_E

8/8/2012


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---TABLE OF CONTENTS---
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1. Introduction							00INTR
2. Comparison of Weapon Types					00COMP
3. Choose Your Upgrade Branch					00UPGR
	A. Handgun
	B. Machinegun
	C. Rifle
4. Other Parts							00OTHR
	A. Barrels
	B. Scopes and Optional Parts
	C. Accessories
5. Summary of What to Upgrade					00SUMM
6. Weapon Setups						00SETP
	A. Typical Setup
	B. Ex Hard Mode Setup
	C. Variations
7. Acknowledgements and Copyright				00ACKN


------------------
---INTRODUCTION---						00INTR
------------------

This game is now almost exactly six years old (North American release 8/15/
2006). Despite that, I'm replaying it for the third time. I've gone through 
Normal mode and Ex Hard mode all three times. Overall it's not a great game, 
but it is pretty good. Those who aren't already Final Fantasy fans may find 
less to like here, but I personally rate it as one of my favorite games of 
all time.

This guide is mostly just my opinions on what gun parts to use and when/how to 
upgrade them. This is mostly from personal experience, though I have drawn 
some from other FAQs (noted in the Acknowledgements). I do not list stats or 
any other specifics because there are already other FAQs with this info. 
Instead, this is just a general overview of parts and upgrades.

At the end of each level, you get a choice of leveling up or trading your 
experience points for gil. On Normal mode, I like to alternate each level bet-
ween spending the EXP or trading it for gil. For the last few levels (Chap-
ters 11 and 12) where you donít really need the experience points, you should 
trade for gil to give you a monetary head start if you decide to play on Ex 
Hard mode (New Game Plus). When playing on Ex Hard mode, you will need the 
extra HP and Defense from leveling up, so donít trade experience points for 
gil on Ex Hard.

I donít have a lot of experience playing on Hard mode, but it seems it may 
actually be comparatively more difficult than Ex Hard mode. This is because 
Ex Hard mode is only slightly more difficult that Hard mode, but in Hard mode 
you don't get to keep your upgraded weapons from your previous play-through.


--------------------------------
---COMPARISON OF WEAPON TYPES---				00COMP
--------------------------------

Overall, handguns are the best weapons and machineguns are the worst, with 
rifles somewhere in between. 

Handguns tend to have better stats all around, plus they have the bonus of 
shooting three bullets at once so you can do damage more quickly. The downside 
of this is you burn through ammo quicker and can run out if youíre not 
careful. The balancing factor is handgun ammo is the cheapest to buy if you 
do run low.

Machineguns on the other hand, have the worst stats all around. No matter 
which upgrade branch you choose, they tend to be heavy, inaccurate, and weak. 
Their higher rate of fire is NOT enough to make up for these drawbacks. How-
ever, they are not without use as they are can be useful in boss battles to 
conserve your handgun ammo (see below).

Rifles are definitely better than machineguns, but not as good as handguns. 
They tend to be powerful and accurate, but heavy and slow. The main advantage 
of rifle over handgun is rifles are more conservative with ammo.


--------------------------------
---CHOOSE YOUR UPGRADE BRANCH---				00UPGR
--------------------------------

This is just my perception, but it always seemed to me like the game wants you 
to choose upgrade branches as follows, building on the inherent strengths of 
the three types of frames.

Cerberus Ė M (magazine) branch
Griffon Ė S (speed) branch
Hydra Ė P (power) branch

This is not the most optimal. While the S branch is the best for the Griffon, 
the Cerberus is best in the P branch, and the Hydra does better in the M or S 
branches.


---HANDGUN---

As stated above, handguns are the best weapons overall. The Ultima Weapon is 
obviously the best weapon in the game, and the Cerberus is the best of the 
ďnormalĒ weapons.

For most of the game upgrading your Cerberus should probably be your first 
priority. Once you can choose an upgrade branch, go for the P Cerberus and 
when you have the cash available upgrade it all the way to the Powered Cer-
berus. The reason the P branch is best is because the extra power combined 
with the Cerberusí ability to shoot three bullets at once lets you one-shot 
most normal enemies. With the Power Booster accessory, you can still one-shot 
enemies even on Ex-Hard mode.

The Ultima Weapon is an interesting case. To get it, you have to upgrade the 
Model Gun you find early in the game, but it costs 250,000 gil to upgrade 
fully. The best way to do this is to complete the repeatable mission near the 
end of Chapter 10 (Deepground) where you have to kill 100 enemies that come at 
you in waves.  It can be challenging but is not overly difficult and will earn 
you about 80,000 gil per run. However, if you do decide to get the Ultima Wea-
pon this way, I wouldnít use it during Normal mode; itís so powerful that it 
seems like cheating. Wait until Ex Hard mode and then use it to your heartís 
content.

Some on the message boards recommend replaying the last level of Chapter 12 
and repeatedly dying. Each time you die, convert EXP to Gil and retry, gaining 
cash pretty quickly to afford the Ultima Weapon. I've never tried this, but it 
seems it would be faster but more boring than the repeatable mission in Chap-
ter 10. If you decide not to spend the time and money required for the Ultima 
Weapon, your Powered Cerberus will still serve you well in Ex Hard mode.


---MACHINEGUN---

The Griffon is the worst of the ďnormalĒ weapons. It is weak, inaccurate, and 
has a woefully short range, and its high speed does not make up for these 
drawbacks. None of upgrade branches really help, either. Against normal enem-
ies, itís not worth using because it takes so many bullets to kill them that 
you will probably take a lot of damage in return.

However, as stated above the Griffon is not completely useless. It can be very 
useful in certain boss battles. If you put the Power Booster and your best 
barrel on it (the Faerie L Barrel works well), you can run circles around 
slower bosses while keeping up a continuous barrage of damage. This works well 
against Azul, any of the Black Widow mini-bosses, or even Nero. (Note: you 
will want to turn on Semi-Auto Aim when doing this, even if you normally use 
Manual Aim, because the recoil makes it hard to keep your machinegun on 
target without Auto Aim.)

I find the S branch upgrades to be the best for this purpose. The P branch 
upgrades are far too heavy and the extra power doesnít make up for their other 
drawbacks, while the M branch doesnít add anything over the S branch. The 
higher rate of fire of the S branch makes up for the lower power, and it has 
longer range. Plus if you upgrade it all the way to the Sonic Griffon it has 
99 bullets just like the Starry Griffon.

This is how it usually works for me: I use handguns and rifles for most lev-
els, collecting machinegun ammo as I go. Then when I get to the boss I use up 
most or all of my machinegun ammo on it and switch back to handguns and rifles 
to complete the next level. By the time I get to the next boss, Iím usually 
full on machinegun bullets again and can use them on the boss. I find I con-
serve my handgun ammo much better this way. You donít want to make upgrading 
the Griffon your top priority, but donít neglect it either because it does 
have its uses.

The Blast Machinegun you can get halfway through chapter 10 is nearly useless, 
though. Itís undeniably the weakest weapon in the game, and its knockdown 
ability is not nearly enough to make up for its low stats. Sure, you can knock 
an enemy down and then switch to another weapon to kill them before they get 
up, but itís simply easier to just kill them with another weapon to begin with.


---RIFLE---

The Hydra is a good all-around weapon. Itís heavy but powerful, slow but accu-
rate, and has the best range. When comparing the Hydra and the Cerberus, what 
really makes the difference is that the Cerberus can put out more damage be-
cause it fires 3 bullets. The Hydra is still useful, especially when trying to 
conserve ammo.

Because of the long range and good accuracy, any of the Hydra variants are 
good for sniping. If you put a Normal barrel on it instead of a Long barrel, 
it instead becomes a strong medium range weapon that makes a good stand-in for 
your handgun.

Of the 3 upgrade branches, I would say avoid the P branch. The P Hydra starts 
out pretty good, especially if youíre big into sniping, but the later P vari-
ants are too heavy and have low ammo. The P Hydra Gamma has only 3 bullets and 
the Gigant Hydra has only 1 bullet, which makes even sniping difficult. You 
can equip the Auto-Reloader to help with this, but that takes the same slot as 
the Power Booster. I would rather use one of the other Hydra variants with a 
Power Booster than use the Gigant Hydra with an Auto-Reloader.

I find the M and S branches to be better choices. The M branch ends in the 
Velvet Hydra and the S branch ends in the Feather Hydra. Of the two, I think 
that the Feather Hydra might be slightly better. Itís lightweight but still 
with enough accuracy and power to be effective. Its biggest problem is its 
magazine is too small to really take advantage of its higher rate of fire. The 
Velvet Hydra is a good all-around weapon, with the same accuracy as the Fea-
ther Hydra but higher damage and lower speed. It is also heavier and has more 
ammo capacity than you will ever need. Both are still great for sniping and 
donít suffer from having lower power than the Gigant Hydra.

Near the end of Chapter 10 (Deepground), right after the repeatable mission, 
you can get the Bayonet Rifle. It is VERY similar to the Velvet Hydra, being 
just slightly worse in all stats except for a slightly higher speed and a 
smaller magazine. It also has the added bonus of improving your melee damage. 
This is a minor benefit since melee is not very effective, but combined with 
the Power Cross you can do good damage. If you want to conserve cash, you can 
actually avoid upgrading your Hydra all the way and just start using the Bayo-
net Rifle as soon as you get it.


-----------------
---OTHER PARTS---						00OTHR
-----------------

---BARRELS---

Short Barrels are crap. Donít use them. They are lightweight and increase 
speed, but they have horribly low power and accuracy. Even short range accu-
racy is bad, and the advantages do NOT make up for the drawbacks. Donít waste 
money upgrading the Short Barrel unless youíre a completionist (like me) who 
wants to upgrade everything.

The Lucky S Barrel you can get in Chapter 10 is flat out the worst in the 
game. Even though it doubles EXP earned, because itís so bad I havenít found 
a way to take advantage of it. Some others have suggested using it on your 
magic-focused weapon, to get the double EXP from enemies you kill with magic.

Normal Barrels are good all around. In my opinion you should use Normal Bar-
rels on your main weapon, though some players prefer to use a Long Barrel. As 
you upgrade the Normal Barrel, it stays pretty average in all stats until the 
final upgrade which increases accuracy by A LOT. The Master N Barrel is argu-
ably the best barrel in the game.

There is also the Guard N Barrel, which increases your defense. Stat wise it 
is very similar to the Normal Barrel Gamma (the second to last upgrade). When 
combined with the Cerberus Relief, the Guard N Barrel can be a huge benefit in 
Ex Hard mode where the enemies do more damage. The biggest problem with the 
Guard N Barrel is that itís so hard to get--you have to save all the WRO mem-
bers in chapter 6 which can be very difficult to do.

Long Barrels are also very good. They have great accuracy at Long range and 
even their Short range accuracy is decent enough that you can use a Long Bar-
rel on your main weapon instead of a Normal Barrel. Naturally they are perfect 
for sniping when combined with the scope. Even without the scope, you can 
still shoot enemies from further away, often before they can see/shoot you 
(Semi-Auto Aim helps with this). In addition to long range and accuracy, the 
Long Barrel also has high power but its biggest drawback is its very high 
weight even when upgraded.

About halfway through Chapter 10 you can get the Faerie L Barrel. Compared to 
the fully upgraded Nova L Barrel, it has less power, range, and accuracy, but 
weighs almost nothing while the Nova L Barrel is quite heavy. I personally 
think the Faerie L Barrel ties the Master N Barrel for best in the game. It 
has similar power and speed to the Master N Barrel, but with more range, less 
weight, and less accuracy. It is great for sniping at long range, while still 
performing well at medium and short ranges. If you want to conserve cash, you 
could avoid upgrading the Long and Normal Barrels all the way and instead 
switch to the Faerie L Barrel as soon as you get it.


---SCOPES AND OPTIONAL PARTS---

There are only two scope slot accessories, the Sniper Scope and the Materia 
Floater. The former is almost required equipment, but luckily you get it in 
the first chapter. The Materia Floater is also important, and you will prob-
ably want to use it in preference to the Materia Booster because it opens up 
the option slot for other accessories. Upgrading the Materia Floater is expen-
sive, but definitely worth it.

The Power Booster is the best optional part. Being able to kill enemies more 
quickly with fewer bullets is always preferable. The first upgrade isnít too 
expensive, and you can probably wait until later for the second upgrade. Some 
other guides state that the Beta and Gamma upgrades both give the same bonus 
of +60% damage. Iíve tested this and found it to be wrong. The Beta upgrade 
gives about +45% and the Gamma gives the full +60%. I can only assume it was 
a typo in the Official Guide that propagated this error.

The other optional parts are of dubious usefulness.  I used the Gravity Float-
er my first play-through, mostly to counteract the high weight of the Long 
Barrel, but no longer find it of use. The Auto-Reloader doesnít provide enough 
benefit; reloading in combat really should not be a problem. It could be use-
ful on a Gigant Hydra to get around the 1 bullet magazine, but I wouldn't want 
to use the Gigant Hydra anyway. Lastly, the Materia Booster is useful early 
on, especially when combined with the Materia Floater, but once your Materia 
Floater is upgraded you wonít use the Booster anymore.

There is also the Manaheart. You can only get it on Ex Hard mode by killing 
the Dual Horn in Chapter 6 (which is not as easy as it sounds). It lets your 
magic slowly recharge. This is not a great benefit in the normal game, but is 
a HUGE benefit in the Bonus Missions if you have it in mind to complete them 
all. The upgrades are very expensive but increase the recharge rate. Some 
guides state it also upgrades your magic but this is not true; you still need 
a Materia Floater to increase your magic damage.


---ACCESSORIES---

These are the little charms that hang from the chain on Vincentís guns. They 
include the three types of Materia and the three accuracy adjusters, plus the 
Cerberus Relief, Power Cross, and Recoil Limiter.

You WILL need to use magic at some point, and it can be a great help in cer-
tain situations. Of the three types, Fire and Thunder are better. Fire is 
great for taking out groups at long range and Thunder is great for taking out 
groups at short range. Blizzard homes in on the enemies, but doesnít do as 
much damage and Iíve never found a good use for it. Always use at least Level 
2 magic, preferably Level 3. Donít waste your time with the basic Level 1 
spells.

The S/M/L Adjusters improve your accuracy at that specific range. They seem 
like a nice idea, but the boost they give is small and Iíve never had enough 
problems with accuracy to need them. Maybe if you were using the Griffon a lot 
or liked Short Barrels you might need the accuracy boost, but I donít recom-
mend using either of those. The Recoil Limiter is the same way; Iíve just 
never had enough trouble with recoil to need it. Maybe if you were using the 
Gigant Hydra or Dueling Griffon then recoil could be a problem, but again I 
donít recommend using either.

Lastly we have the Power Cross and the Cerberus Relief. The former isnít very 
good by itself, but when combined with the Bayonet Rifle can make your melee 
attacks quite powerful. It is fun to play around with but overall isnít of 
great use. The Cerberus Relief doesnít increase your defense a lot, but it is 
enough to make a difference, especially when upgraded. On Normal mode you 
donít really need the defense boost, but on Hard and Ex Hard modes the extra 
defense will make a significant difference.


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---SUMMARY OF WHAT TO UPGRADE---				00SUMM
--------------------------------

This is a quick recap of my opinions on what to upgrade first, what to upgrade 
later, and what to skip. Ignore this if you are the kind of person (like me) 
who spends the time to upgrade everything, regardless of its usefulness.


---HIGH UPGRADE PRIORITY---

Cerberus (P branch)
Normal Barrel
Power Booster

These three will serve you best throughout both Normal mode and Ex Hard mode.


---MEDIUM UPGRADE PRIORITY---

Hydra (M or S branch)
Long Barrel
Materia Floater
Cerberus Relief

These will be very useful to you but should not be your first priority


---LOW UPGRADE PRIORITY---

Griffon (S branch)
Materia Booster

Situationally useful, so donít worry about upgrading them as much.


---EX HARD MODE UPGRADES---

Ultima Weapon
Manaheart

The Ultima Weapon can be obtained at the very end of Normal Mode and the Mana-
heart about one-third through Ex Hard Mode. Theyíre both very useful in Ex 
Hard mode and the Bonus Missions.


---NON-UPGRADABLE PARTS TO ACQUIRE---

Bayonet Rifle
Faerie L Barrel
Guard N Barrel (skip it if it proves too frustrating to get)

The first two are very useful and easy to get, but come late in the game. The 
third comes earlier in the game but is harder to get.


---NON-UPGRADABLE PARTS TO SKIP---

Blast Machinegun
Lucky S Barrel

Easy to acquire late in the game, but not very useful.


---DON'T NEED TO UPGRADE---

Short Barrel
Gravity Floater
Auto Reloader
Power Cross
Recoil Limiter
S/M/L Adjusters

These parts are not very useful, so donít purchase or upgrade them unless you 
have a lot of extra cash.


-------------------
---WEAPON SETUPS---						00SETP
-------------------

My normal setup is to have one weapon for normal fights at medium to short 
range (usually handgun), one weapon for long range (usually rifle, sometimes 
handgun), and one for magic (usually handgun, sometimes rifle). 


---TYPICAL SETUP---

This is what I would be aiming for by about the middle of a play-through on 
Normal Mode.

	Normal Fights: P Cerberus with Normal Barrel Beta, 
	Power Booster Beta, and Cerberus Relief

	Long Range: S Hydra with Long Barrel Beta, 
	Sniper Scope, Power Booster Beta, and Cerberus Relief

	Magic: P Cerberus with Guard N Barrel, 
	Materia Floater, Materia Booster, and Thunder or Fire Materia

Playing through the game, I would generally like to have stuff fully or almost 
fully upgraded by the start of Chapter 11.

	Normal Fights: Powered Cerberus with Master N Barrel, 
	Power Booster Gamma, and Cerberus Relief Beta or Gamma

	Long Range: Feather Hydra or Bayonet Rifle with Faerie L Barrel, 
	Sniper Scope, Power Booster Gamma, and Cerberus Relief Beta or Gamma

	Magic: Powered Cerberus with Guard N Barrel, 
	Materia Floater Gamma, Power Booster Gamma, and Thunder or Fire Materia


---VARIATIONS---

(These examples assume youíre using the best upgrade version available for 
that part, rather than referencing the specific upgraded parts.)

I mentioned above that I sometimes switch things up, using a handgun for long 
range and a rifle for magic instead of the other way around.

	Long Range: P Cerberus with Long Barrel (or Faerie L Barrel), 
	Sniper Scope, Power Booster, and Cerberus Relief

	Magic: S Hydra (or Bayonet Rifle) with Normal Barrel, 
	Materia Floater, Power Booster, and Thunder or Fire Materia

I will also sometimes use a handgun or rifle for both long range AND magic. 
This is super useful in at least a few spots in Chapter 8 where you can snipe 
some gattling gunners with a well-placed Lvl 3 Fire spell, but overall it's 
pretty niche.

	Long Range/Magic: S Hydra with Long Barrel (or Faerie L Barrel), 
	Sniper Scope, Materia Booster, and Fire Materia

	Long Range/Magic: P Cerberus with Long Barrel (or Faerie L Barrel), 
	Sniper Scope, Materia Booster, and Fire Materia

A rifle can even be used for normal fights, though I only do this when out of 
handgun ammo. This makes a very good medium range weapon that still does well 
at long and short ranges.

	Normal Fights: S Hydra or Bayonet Rifle with Normal Barrel, 
	Power Booster, and Cerberus Relief or Power Cross.

Iíve also talked about using the Griffon for boss fights. With the right 
barrel and accessories youíll have decent power, decent accuracy, and a high 
rate of fire. You donít have to worry about wasting handgun ammo as you run 
around the boss laying down a constant stream of lead.

	Boss Fights: S Griffon with Faerie L Barrel (or Normal Barrel), 
	Power Booster, and Cerberus Relief.


---EX HARD MODE SETUP---

This is similar to the Typical Setup above, but with the addition of the 
Ultima Weapon and the Manaheart (often upgraded to Manamind or Manasoul).

	Normal Fights: Ultima Weapon with Master N Barrel or Guard N Barrel, 
	Power Booster Gamma, and Cerberus Relief Gamma

	Long Range: Feather Hydra or Bayonet Rifle with Faerie L Barrel, 
	Sniper Scope, Power Booster Gamma, and Cerberus Relief Gamma

	Magic: Ultima Weapon with Guard N Barrel,  
	Materia Floater Gamma, Manaheart/mind/soul, and Thunder or Fire Materia

Sometimes what I will do is put the Manaheart on the Long Range or Normal 
Fights weapon instead of the Magic weapon. This sacrifices some attack power 
but lets me recharge mana even when using another weapon.

	Long Range: Ultima Weapon with Faerie L Barrel (or Nova L Barrel), 
	Sniper Scope, Manaheart/mind/soul, and Cerberus Relief Gamma

	Magic: Feather Hydra or Bayonet Rifle with Guard N Barrel, 
	Materia Floater Gamma, Power Booster Gamma, and Thunder or Fire Materia


------------------------------------
---ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND COPYRIGHT---				00ACKN
------------------------------------

Even though I have drawn inspiration from other guides on GameFAQs, this guide 
is all my own work. You can use it for your own benefit, but don't try to 
claim it as your own or make money off it. That would be lame.

Some of the FAQs I've used myself and would recommend to you are:

Angelo Heartilly's Gun Customization FAQ
http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps2/924449-dirge-of-cerberus-final-fantasy-vii/faqs/
44992

kigo3000's similar but less detailed Gun Part Data FAQ
http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps2/924449-dirge-of-cerberus-final-fantasy-vii/faqs/
45660

and GoeTeeks' Ex Hard mode guide
http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps2/924449-dirge-of-cerberus-final-fantasy-vii/faqs/
44992

I haven't completed all the Bonus Missions yet, but I've still found 
Monastic_Turtle's guide to be helpful
http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps2/924449-dirge-of-cerberus-final-fantasy-vii/faqs/
44698

That's it! Have fun out there shooting stuff with everyone's favorite red-
cloaked anti-hero.

...Wait, that describes a lot of characters besides just Vincent.