StarCraft II Collector's Edition detailed

Art book! Original game! Comic! 90!

Blizzard has announced that it will release a lavish Collector's Edition of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty when the hotly anticipated real-time strategy sequel launches later this year.

For the princely sum of 89.99 - the price in Her Majesty's Pounds is yet to be confirmed - you'll receive the game, the first in a planned trilogy of releases, and a bulging pack of extras.

These include a 176-page art book; a 2GB USB flash drive, preloaded with copies of the original StarCraft and its Brood War expansion, in the shape of Jim Raynor's dog tag; a behind-the-scenes DVD and soundtrack CD; a comic book, prequel to a forthcoming comic series; and an exclusive in-game pet for World of Warcraft, a miniature Thor unit.

You'll also get some exclusive downloadable bonuses for your account on the brand-spanking new Battle.net service: portraits for your profile, decals to customise your in-game units and a "visually unique version" of the Thor.

Most importantly, it all comes in a big, heavy box.

If you don't fancy the Collector's Edition you can always pick up the standard edition of the game (suggested retail price: 59.99) at retail, or shortly after launch, as a download from the Blizzard Store.

In related news, StarCraft II lead designer Dustin Browder has suggested to Game Informer that players should invest some serious time in the online game - 30 to 60 hours - before tackling one-on-one multiplayer.

He views co-operative play versus AI, and team matches, to be stepping stones to what could be the toughest challenge in competitive gaming.

"We're definitely going to be looking at Achievements and other tools to encourage our players, once they graduate from co-operative vs. AI to move into team play before they move into 1v1... It's a much more casual environment than the 1v1... We really consider the 1v1 the final, endgame, arena-style gameplay that we hope players will only get to after 30, 40, 50, 60 hours played depending on their enthusiasm for it." Fear it.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will also include challenge mode mini-games to introduce solo players to the basics of multiplayer strategy, and, of course, a full-length solo campaign in which players will lead Terran forces.

It still has no release date, but is expected in the first half of this year - so before the end of June - for PC and Mac.

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