One of the most important things to note for fans of the Final Fantasy series in general, and Final Fantasy VII specifically, is that Crisis Core is an action-RPG, and battles happen in real time (rather than in the turn-based system of the more traditional titles in the series).
This game allows players to choose between Normal and Hard difficulty levels. The only difference is that enemies inflict more damage, and the player's character inflicts less. Since the game also has a New Game+ option that allows much to transfer from a previous play-through, it is recommended to play on Normal difficulty first, and then try the higher difficulty later.
|Hit Points||HP||Zack's life. The game ends when his HP reaches 0, unless he is Raised. The upper limit is 9999 (or 99999 with certain items)|
|Magic Points||MP||Allows the use of magic. When MP reaches 0, Zack won't be able to cast magic again until he has enough MP to use it. The upper limit is 999 (or 9999 with certain items)|
|Action Points||AP||Like MP, but for command materia. The upper limit is 999 (or 9999 with certain items)|
|SOLDIER Points||SP||Fuel for the DMW wheels. These points diminish every time the wheels spin, but are refilled by a number of actions, including limit breaks and defeating enemies. The upper limit is 999999999|
|Attack||ATK||Determines how much damage Zack can do with physical attacks. The upper limit is 255.|
|Vitality||VIT||Determines how much damage Zack takes from physical attacks. The upper limit is 255.|
|Magic||MAG||Determines how much damage Zack can do with magic attacks. The upper limit is 255.|
|Spirit||SPR||Determines how much damage Zack takes from magical attacks. The upper limit is 255.|
|Luck||LCK||Determines the chance of getting a Critical Hit, receiving an item from a defeated enemy, and receiving a rare item. The upper limit is 255.|
Level: Zack starts the game at level 6 and can achieve level 99 through the course of the game. In order to raise his level, he must earn the appropriate amount of experience. However, his level won't actually raise at that point unless 777 comes up on the DMW during the modulation phase. He will continue gaining experience towards the next level without having to get the numbers to come up, so it is possible that the wheel can keep his level low for a while, and then dump a few level gains on him in quick succession.
Digital Mind Wave (DMW)
The Digital Mind Wave is a set of three wheels (much like a slot machine) that spins in the upper left corner of the screen during combat, somewhat reminiscent of the system used in Unlimited SaGa. The wheel uses (automatically) 10 SP every time it spins, and causes Zack's level to increase, limit breaks, and level increases on his equipped materia.
The three wheels have 18 possible images, though normally only 6 human characters are available, and at the start of the game only Sephiroth and Angeal are on the wheels. Images are added to the wheels as the game progresses, and under special circumstances (Summon Mode, Chocobo Mode, and Genesis Mode, for example).
The limit gauge above the DMW will range from slow blue waves to fast red waves, and is affected by how well/poorly Zack is doing in combat. The story can also modify the limit gauge. In any case, as the gauge moves towards faster and red, limit breaks become more likely.