Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Collector's Editions

In my opinion, one of the best things about every new Blizzard game or expansion release is the Collector's Edition. Blizzard does an amazing job packing these boxes with cool extras, especially the soundtracks, art books, and behind-the-scenes DVDs.

If you haven't bothered to listen to the in-game music recently, I really think you're missing out. WarCraft music is some of my absolute favorite music of any video game franchise, and is amazingly effective at breathing life into an otherwise fairly static world. Not only is the music itself epic enough for any music player, but there are just some moments in World of Warcraft that are not only enhanced by, but become extremely memorable because of music highlights. Two examples of this from the top of my head occur in Molten Core and Zul'Aman.

For those of you who used to raid Molten Core with the in-game music turned on, you probably know the exact area I'm thinking of. About halfway through the instance, right after you defeat the fourth boss, Garr, you pass through a narrow tunnel to encounter your first "lava pack" trash group and see the cavernous room in which Baron Geddon and Shazzrah reside. Right as you cross the threshold from the tunnel to the cavern, the music suddenly drops away and is replaced by something much, much more epic. This transition is absolutely perfectly placed. Garr was arguably the last of the easy bosses at the start of the raid zone, and the "lava packs" were definitely some of the hardest trash pulls in the entire instance. Yet despite this sudden increase in difficulty, the members of the raid group I was part of always seemed to become re-energized when we reached that point, regardless of how long the raid day had been, and I credit this musical transition for at least part of that.

The other example of when music really makes for a memorable moment is the completion of Zul'Aman. After successfully defeating Zul'jin, your raid group is treated to a bit of a celebration in the form of victory music. For me, the feeling of exhilaration after completing Zul'Aman was greater than anything I'd experienced since defeating Ragnaros in Molten Core. Of Hakkar the Soulflayer, Ossirian the Unscarred, Prince Malchezaar, Gruul the Dragonkiller, Magtheridon, Lady Vashj, and Kael'thas Sunstrider—all of whom I defeated between my first victory over Ragnaros and my first victory over Zul'jin—none provided the same sense of achievement that completing Molten Core and Zul'Aman did.

Art Books:
If you've never had the chance to take a look at any of the WarCraft art books, I highly recommend you check out Sons of the Storm, the website of the top Blizzard artists. It'll give you a small taste of the pure awesome that is packed into every art book page. Not only do you get some insight into WarCraft development, but you also get to see cool concept art and sketches of things that may not have necessarily made it into the final game (most likely due to being comprised of too much win). One example of this would be the original concept for Crystalforge Armor (the Paladin tier 5 set), which is much more awe-inspiring than its in-game counterpart.

Behind-the-Scenes DVDs:
The behind-the-scenes DVDs are, by far, my favorite part about Blizzard Collector's Edition boxes. Not only do you generally get high resolution versions of the jaw-dropping cinematics, but you also get to watch cool environment, character, and gameplay videos narrated by the designers and developers.

In fact, my greatest regret about any of the Blizzard Collector's Edition boxes I've bought is the loss of my WarCraft 3 Cinematics DVD (before I could peruse its full contents, too :( ).

Now, am I saying that you should buy yourself a Collector's Edition? No, not necessarily. If you're not interested in owning all the extras, then leave them to people who are. However, if you do know a friend who has gotten the Collector's Edition of any of the WarCraft games which have offered it (WarCraft 3: Reign of Chaos, World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft: the Burning Crusade, and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King), I definitely recommend taking the time to stop by and ask to ogle their goodies.*

...On second thought, you might wish to find a different phrase to use.

*: By reading or in any other way consuming the content of this post, you hereby agree that Gryphonheart of The Lion Guard will not be held responsible for any repercussions resulting from the usage of the phrase "May I please ogle your goodies?" or any derivative thereof.

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