Valve have just announced that The Orange Box is available to pre-order on Steam. And there are a few good reasons to do so.
First of all, there's the rather big announcement that pre-ordering will secure you access to the Team Fortress 2 beta test, which (also just announced) opens on the 17th. A pretty huge incentive there, with this being the most exciting looking multiplayer in forever and ever. A chance to see those pretties a month early in enticing indeed.
For those a bit annoyed at having to buy Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 again when ordering the set, the pricing should quickly put that to rest. To get the whole box (HL2, Ep 1, Ep 2, TF2 and Portal - phew) will cost you a pre-order price of $45 (£22 (£25 with tax)). To buy the three new games individually will cost you $80 (£40). So, um, the whole lot then, maybe? Even better, Valve have said that those still miffed can "gift" their duplicates to friends. Which is nice.
But perhaps there is one more piece of news that will have people pre-ordering in their mad droves. Coming up on page two!
For those buying in advance there is to be a special edition of - you guessed it - Peggle! (What, you didn't guess?). Called Peggle Extreme, it's a collaboration between PopCap and Valve to create an Orange Box-themed version of the ball-and-pins simulation. Which means, yes, pre-ordering will get you Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal themed Peggle levels. A degree of madness unsurpassed. (While everyone else at RPS will be jumping on their beds in excitement, I choose to remain disappointed it's not a special version of the far superior Bookworm Adventures).
There's more details about the pack here, and specific info on the all new Peggle madness here. The Orange Box is released in the US on the 10th October, and because fuck you Europe, our side of the sea on the 12th.