After the recent announcement that Modern Warfare 2 will have a “Prestige Edition” released that comes with a pair of Night-Vision Goggles on a Styrofoam head, I did a little research to assess the ten levels of crazy for video game special editions. Here are my findings, organized from sane to bat-shit nuts.
10. Maps: Especially cloth maps (Lunar: Silver Star Story/Darksiders/World of Warcraft). Along with strategy guides (Super Metroid) this is the most useful pack-in item a game can have. Often there was no special edition, you just got this in the box. These are actually useful for the game experience, plus they look and feel nice to have as part of your gaming library.
9. Soundtrack or making of DVD: Again a pretty nice edition and I honestly wish we’d get more of them. The original Grand Theft Auto and Killer Instinct may not have music you’d rather listen to than *insert your favorite band here* but it’s part of gaming history and again good to have around. The making of DVD is the equivalent of extra features for a movie disc. These are pretty common these days. Most special editions will have some sort of disc full of behind the scenes footage. They vary in quality, but once again this is part the game’s heritage. The work these people put into making the game needs to be documented and it gives us, the consumer, an insight into what that takes. I honestly haven’t watched any of them twice though.
8. Figurines: It’s all downhill towards Crazy Town from here. This is the largest growing trend for pack-ins at the moment and the first item on this list that really has no function, unless you plan on collecting 32 of them and using them to play Chess. Admit it, most of these figurines on closer inspection are far less cool than they looked in the promotional picture. Fallout 3, Metal gear Solid 4, Assassin’s Creed, Street Fighter IV and Sacred 2 are all offenders here. On Digital Cowboys one of my guests had bought the Bioshock special edition just for the Big Daddy figurine. On reflection he commented that it looked like it was painted by “a blind two-year old”. Another friend of mine found the drill arm had fallen off his Big Daddy, and this became a fairly common complaint. If figurines are going to continue, we should demand a higher quality of tat.
7. Resident Evil 5: Now I’m going to start singling out games because this is symptomatic of simply throwing crazy crap into a special edition for the sake of it. Mirror’s Edge did have a very limited edition messenger bag which fetched high prices on eBay but RE5 went one further. In this special edition you get a bag, a figurine, a steelbook tin, a patch and a necklace. How many of those patches are currently adorning denim jackets? Who’s wearing their Kuju Necklace? Hands up! I’m guessing a high percentage of this stuff is just in drawers. Was it worth it?
6. Fallout 3: I’ll admit that the messenger bag might be usable in daily life, but a lunch box and a head knocker, while cute, are literally just shelf-candy. Unless you eat lunch out of yours, that is. Remember, I’m not saying these special editions are wrong or that they should stop, just that they’re crazy and seem on first impressions to have been assembled in a frantic race around the offices of the game developer, grabbing stuff off desks. I eagerly await the Splinter Cell: Conviction limited edition paperweight and the Assassin’s Creed II stapler.
5. Grand Theft Auto IV: Duffle bag, check; soundtrack CD, check; artwork book, check; lock box, say what now? What the hell does a lock box have to do with GTA IV? It’s a game about crime; surely a wire coat-hanger or a baseball bat would be more appropriate. This one just seems like they had a meeting and after all the suggestions for pack-ins were in, the lock-box was the least incriminating. If you use yours, good, but did this special edition get bought purely because it was GTA?
4. Halo 3: Master Chief’s head. This is actually pretty cool. It’s iconic and well-constructed and bigger than you’d imagine. The drawback is it’s still a bit too small. You could put it on a child or a dog, but let’s face it, all of us wondered when we saw it; why couldn’t they have made it a little bigger so I could get that thing on? That’s Halloween for the next five years! Instead it’s just collecting dust on our over-crowded shelves.
3. Resident Evil 4: Chainsaw controller. OK, not once, not ONCE have I ever spoken to anybody about the absolutely classic RE4 and had them say “Dude you gotta try it with the chainsaw controller!” Firstly it’s entirely superfluous to play; we have a GameCube pad, several in fact. But secondly and most importantly, Leon never uses a chainsaw in the whole game! That sack-headed maniac at the beginning does. This is just baffling.
2. Gears of War 2: We get some pimped out gold lancer and hammer-burst codes with the special edition of this one. They look stupid and make you stand out a mile away to wily snipers. Clearly nobody got the message as these codes fetch decent prices on eBay. However the crowing glory is that massive toy lancer chainsaw gun (always with the chainsaws). It’s even crazier in the UK where we hate guns of all kinds (apparently) and had to make do with a gold variant that looked like (in the words of Chandler from Friends) an eyesore from the Liberace house of crap. Nothing says classy like a big gun made of gold plastic.
1. Modern Warfare 2: But nothing could compare to these working Night Vision Goggles. And not just for their ridiculous predicted price ($149.99/£119.99). I would understand if they were synonymous with the game, but you think NVG, you think Splinter Cell, Sam Fisher and the three green lights. Not to mention the incredibly creepy implications of the super COD fan sneaking around at night, looking at us, when we think it’s too dark to be looked at. If you’re thinking of buying these, I’m scared of you, plain and simple.