Actvision's cash cow, the Call Of Duty series, is a franchise so monumentally successful that other games run and hide from its yearly iterations. As such COD has become its own definitive phenonmenon, transcending the medium to accomodate the largest demographic of all (the casual market), only to radicalise it into a collection of fictional military minded killers. Take for example Modern Warfare 2, the last real prequel to the latest release which sold a whopping 4.7 million copies on the first day of release, taking overall a healthy £186 million. Undeniably the game has become a cultural event and as such Activision pulled out all feasible stops at Mondays launch party.
Taking place at Old Billingsgate Fish Market, the venue was notably huge, decorated by a snaking queue of celebs, papparazzi and journalists from all forms of media alike. Once we made our way around the corner to the venue's entrance that was guarded left, right and centre by tooled-up military personnel it was clear exactly what kind of night we were in for. One of the disconcertingly stern military types then presented us with an Ipad that 'scanned' our fingerprints and we were granted access to the venue.
Green was clearly the theme of the evening, mimicking the iconic pulse that set the video game forums alight with its introduction six months ago. A green red carpet, the cavernous inside was lit up by a night vision hue and decorated by 'Apocalypse Now' netting; the drinks presented were a shade of nuclear and camoflague colours were everywhere leaving the guests looking like a bunch of dapper prisoners of war.
After the first round of troublesomly coloured drinks we were ushered downstairs, worryingly forced at gunpoint to sign a disclaimer, being told that things were about to get intense as we were to engage in "The real life Call Of Duty Experience". We were led to a drill sergeant type who in a dark room with night vision goggles called people rude names, only to fit them with flack jackets and arm them with a Colt SMG 9MM with adjustable sights. Testerone began to fly as we were briefed then thrust through a shooting gallery, encouraged by the shouting of our counterparts to shoot "everything on sight".
After completing the first gauntlet it was time to enter a real exercise where one recruit covered the balconies above, whilst the other neutralised tangos on the ground. An officer with a riot shield bought up the rear as journalists and celebrity guests hid behind cover like they were having a flash back to the shower scene from "The Rock".
Getting back to reality a little bit following that rather harrowing experience, it was time to play the game which was presented in a war room remniscient of "Dr. Strangelove". Interestingly the multiplayer was being conducted in heats with the winners of the tournament going on to play the victors in other European territories. Despite the usual constrictions of the insane skill level required to play the game online, it seemed far more accessible even going so far as allowing beginners to engage the game without being instantanously popped in the skull. It seems the new Infinity Ward have done a good job despite the insinuations that all the talent had gravitated over to Respawn.
The celebrities in attendance appeared to express their fondness for the game, what with comedian Jack Whitehall calling it "f***ing awesome" and Example becoming perhaps a little too chummy with the developers who presented the game alongside DJ Danny Wallace. The Chelsea players present and the England rugby union team also appeared to be attempting to make up for their sins on the pitch (and off) by fragging as many hapless souls as possible.
Finishing off the evening Example played a full set that funnily enough fitted the mood perfectly despite the hugely diverse crowd in attendance.
It's that diversity that is indicative of how lucrative the franchise has become; unfortunately for Battlefield, Activision truly went rogue with the worldwide launch, demonstrating why they are the biggest video publisher out there whilst leaving all competitors in the dust.
Classic first-person shooters...