on July 29, 2010
Before I begin, I want to make this perfectly clear: AS THIS REVIEW IS TARGETED AT THE COLLECTOR'S EDITION OF THE GAME, IT'S REVIEWING THE COLLECTOR'S EDITION MATERIALS. There's a small afterthought of a review of the game at the end, but the reviews of the game already are Legion, so why remake the wheel?
That being said...
Honestly, I've been a fan of StarCraft since I found out about it back in 1993. That being said, I think it only fair to warn you that I've never been any good at it, or for that matter, strategy games as a whole. I can and do, however, enjoy the games on a somewhat more artistic level, which is something that saddens me to learn isn't the norm. More people are concerned with just getting into the game so that they can "melt other people's faces", and "roll their faces across the keyboard" to victory.
Again: I've never been a good strategist, and I put this out there as plain as the nose on my face.
That being said, the Collector's Edition of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is perhaps the most beautiful CE of any game that I've ever purchased in the history of ever. I consider myself fortunate that I was among the first to pre-order when Amazon started sales for it back in April, and I don't, for one minute, regret my decision to purchase it.
The Box That Rox
So yeah, the first thing that always stands out about a CE is the packaging. The SCII CE is no slouch in this department, and indeed, goes far above and beyond what I've seen before. The cardboard is a thick and dare I say rugged affair, emulating the militaristically efficient machines that the Terrans employ in their warfare. Honestly, the picture of the packaging dfoesn't do it any justice: It actually has some serious depth and feel to it.
It's What's Inside That Counts
Once you hastily peel away the cellophane protecting your treasure, you're given access to the cache of goodies that Blizzard has delivered for your enjoyment. You've got the game DVD itself, a pre-comic of sorts, USB thumbdrive resembling Jim Raynor's dog tag, soundtrack, art book, and extras DVD. What you don't see, that's given to each of your characters in World of Warcraft, existing or yet to exist, is an exclusive Mini Thor pet. Sadly, despite the fact that Mini Thor can fly around you in loops, it cannot fly when you yourself lift off. Though I suppose this makes sense, as Thor isn't an air unit itself.
I haven't checked out ALL of the extras just yet, but the dog tag is quite remarkable in that it seems to actually be encased in aluminum. It's got a very solid, very heavy feel to it, and I gotta be honest: If my job didn't expressly forbid the wear of USB thumbdrives on the premises, I'd be all over it. I haven't actually tested the pre-installed SC and SC:BW on the drive, but I'm gonna assume they're there... just waiting.
The soundtrack... this is what I've been waiting for since they first unveiled the cinematic with Tychus earlier in the year (or was it last year?). Either way, I had to get rolling off to work, so I snagged the disc and took it to play in the car. As per the norm, Blizzard seated the track from your title screen as track numero uno. Of particular note would be the tracks, "The Deal", which is the same music from that cinematic, and "I, Mengsk", which reintroduces us to the same opera suite they had from back in the SC:BW intro. All in all, it's a gorgeous set of tracks, and it's just one more in a long line of musical masterpieces by Blizzard's audio department.
It's About The Software, Stupid
So obviously, chances are good that you're not gonna be buying this solely for the box and the swag. I haven't played the actual game itself yet beyond the first mission, but I'll say this: It's a beautiful world that gets installed on those spinning platters. The visuals are gorgeous, the voice acting is phenomenal, and there's a point at which I forget that this an RTS that I'm playing. Controls are familiar (i.e., identical) to the original game, and being able to swoop in to ground-level to put yourself among your units? Amazing.
It's not without its problems, however. Installing requires you to authenticate your copy of the game with the B.NET system. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that now I've got TWO games that require I have my Blizzard Authenticator on hand. And come on, requiring that I use an Authenticator to play an offline campaign? Please, Blizzard. Please. (Yes, I realize that you can sign on as a guest, but that's a copout.)
There've been a lot of complaints about the game only having the Terran campaign available for single player, but really? The Terran campaign from Wings of Liberty is longer than all three campaigns from the original, so who cares? My only gripe here is the serious cliffhanger that the campaign ends on.
All in all, the SCII CE is a beautiful package deal, and I highly recommend it to anyone that considers themself a true fan of the franchise.