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Dirge of Cerberus ‘All S Rankings’ Run Completed

by December 20, 2020 1 comment

Four and a half years ago, after having played through multiple versions of Dirge of Cerberus multiple times, the idea was seeded in my head of completing the main story campaign with perfect grades in every single category. That idea is now a reality and you can watch the complete video series showcasing this achievement in the YouTube playlist linked below.

Dirge of Cerberus ( JP ) – Hard Mode – All S Rankings Run
*ACTIVATE ENGLISH CAPTIONS FOR VIDEO COMMENTARY!*

When a stage is completed in Dirge of Cerberus the player is ranked, from worst to best, with the following letters:
D, C, B, A & S. The player is ranked in ten categories, then given their average ranking for that chapter, followed by the rankings based on how they performed in the quests known as Stage Missions. After Omega Weiss is defeated in the game’s final chapter the player is then ranked based on their performance throughout the whole game.

The playlist contains 4 hours 20 minutes 10 seconds of footage. If watching the entirety feels overwhelming then I recommend jumping straight to the final video which includes a 4 1/2 minute montage of the run. There is no special reward from achieving S rank in every category other than the satisfaction of having a really good Dirge of Cerberus save on your PS2 memory card.

One big question may be occupying the reader’s mind right now.

“BUT WHY!?”

The answer being quite simple: Dirge of Cerberus is my hyper-fixation. I enjoy pushing the game to its limits and I love learning more about the game. Adding to the sense of exploration and discovery is the high likelihood that nobody has ever achieved S rank in every single category throughout the game before now. Certainly, nobody else has ever uploaded a recording of such an achievement.

Now follows a detailed summary of the particulars of the way I decided to go about the All S Rank run.

Game version played: Original Japanese release
The scores required for S rank is generally more harsh here than in the later retail editions. Vincent moves slower, fires slower and lacks a double-jump which also adds to the challenge in a way that the revised game does not.

Difficulty mode: Hard, no auto-targetting
The highest difficulty setting in the original release. You do not have the option of auto-aim so you better learn that manual targetting! In the post-original releases you can shift between manual- and auto aim at any time. I consider Hard mode in the original release to be harder than playing on the added Ex Hard mode in the later editions because of how comparatively handicapped you are as a player in the initial retail edition.

Segmented run
The game was played one checkpoint at a time with each chapter segment played multiple times until a satisfactory result was achieved and recorded. Sometimes I go the extra mile of overdoing the scores and looking really good while doing it, other times I settle on a more casual-looking result that is good enough for S rank. I believe that a segmented run is the only reasonable way to achieve top grades in every category: You’d have to reset dozens and dozens of time to perfectly finish Chapter 1 in one sitting and even after that point you could easily mess up the run.

PS2 Controller, analog sticks
Dirge of Cerberus supports mouse and keyboard. Aiming with precision is by far easier when using a mouse and is my recommended way of playing the game. Essentially, playing with a PS2 controller and having to aim with the analog stick is yet another handicap that makes this playthrough more hardcore.

Vincent always on Level 1
When a stage ends the player may either use EXP to level up or they may convert that EXP to gil. Levelling up increases your stats and primarily adds a safety net by giving Vincent higher max HP. Remaining on Lv1 is a sign of confidence that you know how to avoid taking a lot of damage.

NO Phoenix Down/Auto-Life
The lifeline of being able to resurrect after a fatal mistake, and enjoying brief invincibility after having your HP fully restored, adds a huge comfort and most players will always have Auto-Life at the ready. Due to aiming for stylish results and receiving little damage I decided that activating the Auto-Life status was beneath the honor of the All S Rank run.

All cutscenes skipped
The stage timer ticks even while cutscenes are playing. The conditions for S rank in the “Time Expired” is especially harsh in the first four chapters, meaning the only reasonable way to play is to skip all cutscenes. Beyond this point I skip cutscenes because I’m only interested in the gameplay portions of the session. Any cutscenes included in the video playlist, with the exception of Omega Weiss’s defeat, were added during the video editing process.
To make the experience more pleasant for whoever is watching the playlist I have also edited out some of the loading times. Similarly, I’ve sped up the footage in places that consist mostly of Vincent running for long stretches.

Hopefully my All S Rankings run will become a common reference for whenever people want to show what expert-level play can look like in Dirge of Cerberus. If you want to follow along on my continuous journeys into Dirge of Cerberus, do check out my research thread on the forum and show your support with a like or two!

1 comment

  1. Odysseus
    #1 Odysseus 2 January, 2021, 17:30

    I’m so proud of you son

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