Yesterday we reported on Ubisoft's plans to release the European edition of glossy first-person shooter Far Cry exclusively on DVD-ROM. As expected, rather than backlash from Compact Disc advocates, this news was met with a resounding, collective "thunk". The sound a penny makes when it takes about five years to drop.
Having spent yesterday evening with Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2004 beta demo - and particularly the new Assault map, which is officially "my house" - I realised I'd probably end up installing the full version of this one, too, so imagine my dismay when I discovered the game is expected to ship on a whopping six CDs, with a minimum install footprint of 5.5GB hard disk space.
Fortunately, word is that publishers are Atari are also keen to dabble in the wonders of DVD. Having already released execrable film tie-in Enter The Matrix on both CD and DVD-ROM, the publisher is planning to deliver a two-DVD edition of UT2004 in collaboration with developer Epic, which not only saves us from the ignominy of trying to juggle six discs whilst using the other hand to complain about the length of the install procedure on Messenger, but actually takes advantage of the format to boot.
The first DVD of the set reportedly houses the contents of all six CDs, which certainly alleviates the tedium of disc swapping during installation, but it's the second DVD that's a real treat. Here fans will find DVD movie style content - including a number of behind-the-scenes interviews with Epic Games recorded during the game's development - as well as a custom version of Maya Personal Learning Edition and "a few hundred hours" of Video Training Modules (VTMs), created by 3DBuzz.com, to help teach aspiring mod authors to ply their trade.
What's more, Atari is also bundling a Logitech headset with the DVD special edition so that gamers can take advantage of UT2004's built in voice communication (and indeed voice recognition for ordering bots about in single-player). With the whole thing wrapped up in a nice shiny metallic case, it sounds like the ideal way to own UT2004, if that is something you plan to do. The slightly higher price ($59.99 compared to $39.99) is clearly reflected in the contents, and besides, both prices amount to about four euros at today's exchange rate.
The only real question remaining of course is whether or not Atari plans to extend this promotion over to these shores. Attempts to contact Atari this morning were unsuccessful - they're probably busy trying to find an Onslaught server with a reasonable ping or any open player slots - but just as we said to the Yanks yesterday about the Far Cry DVD, a transatlantic PC import is not the most difficult thing in the world to orchestrate, and that certainly works both ways.
Uppety-date! Publisher Atari has been good enough to confirm that the DVD and CD editions of Unreal Tournament 2004 will both be released in the UK, thus negating all that unnecessary fiddling around with unscrupulous importers [spit]. Thanks to a frazzled Atari rep for getting back to us.