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  • Blizzard Entertainment
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Today sees the official release of StarCraft II, and while you'll have to wait a few days to catch the official Merc review (hint: it's good), I want to take a moment to reassure those hardcore Blizzard fans who are wavering about their decision to drop $100 on the game's limited Collector's Edition bundle.

StarCraft II is the new high water mark, not only in Blizzard's Collector's Edition bundles, but in all CE's everywhere.

Hit the jump for details.

First, let's take a look at what you get. A full list, courtesy Amazon:

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Collector's Edition Features:

* The Art of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, a 176-page book featuring artwork from the game
* An exclusive 2GB USB flash drive replica of Jim Raynor's dog tag, which comes preloaded with the original StarCraft and the StarCraft: Brood War expansion set
* A behind-the-scenes DVD containing over an hour of developer interviews, cinematics with director's commentary, and more
* The official StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty soundtrack CD, containing 14 epic tracks from the game along with exclusive bonus tracks
* StarCraft comic book issue #0, a prequel to the comic series
* A World of Warcraft mini Thor in-game pet that can be applied to all World of Warcraft characters on a single account
* Exclusive downloadable content, including special portraits for your profile, decals to customize your units in-game, and a visually unique version of the terran Thor unit

Forget for a moment the neat aesthetic bits, like the reskinned Thor walker or the Blizzard-themed insignias. Forget the comic book and soundtrack CD. Even forget the Behind the Scenes DVD that includes a surprisingly large amount of really interesting art and design materials. The real reason to drop the extra cash on this package is two-fold: That art book and the dog tag USB drive.

For those of you who've never seen a Blizzard art book in person, they are the most meticulously assembled, carefully crafted pieces of gaming extranea on the market today. They're never sold anywhere other than within the company's various Collector's Edition bundles — making them pretty damn rare — and the content within isn't the sort of thing you'll come across without some intense digging. If you enjoy the fictional world Blizzard created for StarCraft II — and you will — the art book is 174 pages of the most gorgeous techno-organic artwork you'll see anywhere.

Next, that dog tag. I thought it was a dumb gimmick to begin with, but once you hold the thing, you'll see how cool it is. It's easily the most solid USB drive I've ever held with some actual heft to it, earns double radness points for being retractable, and once you plug it in, the whole thing lights up with an orange glow. On top of those points, the inclusion of the original StarCraft and its expansion is just a happy bonus.

Compare this to some of the stupid gimmicky crap we've seen of late, like the Modern Warfare 2 night vision goggles, or Halo's Master Chief helmet, and you see a clear division between gimmicky bullshit designed to steal your cash and actively cool merchandise. No, you don't need any of the items in the SCII CE, but you will appreciate all of them.

I'm not going to push the bounds of hyperbole and say absolutely everyone should buy the CE ($100 is still a lot of money), but if you had already earmarked the cash and needed justification to spend it on this limited edition package, I fully support the expenditure. Go forth and blow your wad.