The current generation of gaming has seen ‘special’ editions go from a genuine rarity to something expected with every big release; the previous generation of consoles had 37 special edition releases, the current has over a whopping 125 (and counting). Cynics would call them nothing more than an effort to part gamers with even more of their hard-earned cash, with some offerings little more than in-game bonuses and DLC, whilst figurines seem to be the current flavour of the month.
Some special editions, though, certainly live up to their name. Whether or not they become regrettable purchases, sat on desks and shelves months after release, is irrelevant; the special editions on this list are undeniably cool (in an extremely geeky way) and vital editions to the collections of die-hard gamers.
Special mention: Duke Nukem Forever Collector’s Edition
Perhaps the reason behind Duke Nukem: Forever’s infamous delay was not development problems, rather it took so long putting this special edition together; it’s absolutely loaded with goodies. Whilst it contains nothing as novel as other examples on this list, DN: Forever deserves credit for the pure quantity of Duke good-ness it offers. It comes with… a bust of Duke, a 100-page art-work book, a series of postcards, a radioactive emblem sticker, a comic book, foldable paper craft, poker chips, a deck of playing cards and radioactive emblem dice, all stuffed into a huge DNF box and accompanied by a numbered certificate of limited-edition DNF authenticity. And breath.
5 – Dead Rising 2: High Stakes Edition
The sequel to one of the 360’s earliest surprise hits took the zombiefest to the Vegas-inspired gambling haven of Paradise City and comes with a special edition to reflect the move. It includes the basic map and DLC as well as a very nice mini-poker set, complete with two decks of cards and 100 Paradise City-branded poker chips. What turns the High Stakes Edition from a very neat package into the undeniably-awesome is that anyone who bought it was entered into a competition to win a 6-foot-tall zombie statue called Burt. Now that’s one for the living room.
4 – Fallout 3: Survival Edition
Bethesda’s revival of the classic post-apocalyptic survival RPG was a brilliant game and came with an equally great special edition. The standard collector’s edition had nothing out of the ordinary; ‘making of’ DVDs, concept art and a (admittedly very cool) bobble head. The survival edition though goes one step beyond and offers something that is both collectable and genuinely useful. On top of everything in the collector’s edition the Survival Edition boasts a PIP-Boy 3000-shaped clock, an essential accessory for all wannabe Vault dwellers. No longer do you have to feel guilty about your expensive purchase just sitting on your desk, it also has practical use being there. In the early hours of the morning it’ll also remind you when it’s probably time to stop playing Fallout 3 after an eight-hour session.
3 – Call of Duty: Black Ops II Care Package Prestige Edition
The Call of Duty franchise and its tireless, yearly releases have gained many critics in recent years and it’s no surprise that the series has jumped onboard the special edition bandwagon. Never shy to milk an avid gamer of their money, recent instalments have gone above and beyond the call of duty (har-har) and offered some seriously cool (but equally expensive) packages. The remote control car from Black Ops certainly appealed to our inner child and the night-vision goggles from Modern Warfare 2 appealed to the inner stalker but is it the latest offering that makes this list – a remote control flying drone. That’s right; when you are done annoying thirteen-year-old kids from the other side of the world, you can switch to annoying people in the room by flying a drone in their faces.
2 – Halo 3 – Legendary Edition
Where the original Halo set the standard for console FPS games, Halo 3 came with it a ‘Legendary’ edition that would lay the benchmark for big games coming with things fans want but really don’t need. It’s main draw was that the game came packed in a scaled down MJOLNIR Mark VI helmet, Master Chief’s iconic armour. Despite being a scaled down prop, some determined gamers tried to use it for its intended purpose (although I wouldn’t recommend its use in battle).
The Legendary Edition boasted impressive innards as well as the case, along side the special edition disc came a third exclusive disc containing documentaries and special Red vs Blue episodes.
1 – Bioshock 2 – Collectors Edition
The best special editions aren’t the ones that just throw in a few token DLC codes, a figurine and perhaps statues into an over-sized box. They really feel a part of the game, carrying on the feel and tone set on-screen. Bioshock was a highly stylised and immensely immersive game and the sequel’s collector’s edition feels like something plucked straight from the halls of Rapture, Bioshock’s setting.
The three Rapture-inspired posters, art book and Bioshock 2 score are cool enough but what really elevates the kudos of this special edition is the Vinyl 180g LP BioShock orchestral score. It’s definitely a nice touch when you can tell time and effort has gone to putting together a good special edition, rather than an odd collection of goodies thrown together to justify a larger price and for that Bioshock 2’s Collectors edition has to be considered the best one out there.