If you were lucky enough to pick up a copy of Modern Warfare 2 before last night's midnight launch, you should be thankful you didn't have to brave the teeth-chattering drop in temperature like many. With Activision turning up the style in time for the game's release, a number of parties and store openings were held worldwide to unleash the game with a bang. Whether you were shivering in New York, traversing the Australian outback, or even jigging along to Dizzee Rascal in Westminster, it seems everyone wanted a bite of Activision's tasty pie as early as possible.
Even our very own Mark and Guy made their way to the London launch party--an occasion flooded with celebrities and special guests. The first time the Westminster Council has allowed a video game launch to take place in the land of movies--some may have been fooled by Activision's Hollywood style setting and theatrics. Groups of actors dressed as in-game soldiers strolled along the camouflage "red" carpet, and security was provided via a set of armoured vehicles that replicated the transport in Modern Warfare 2's early levels. According to Mark, the event was "ludicrously over-the-top" but "Activision managed to pull it off." His enthusiasm stifled a little when commenting on the midnight launch, however, calling it "a bit of damp squid, [that was] possibly dampened by the low prices for the game at supermarkets." Both The Daily Mail and the BBC are today reporting that Play.com has taken up to 150 preorders a minute at peak times, so I'm sure Activision isn't quaking in its boots just yet.
Luckily, for the rest of the globe, London wasn't the only major city to suit up for Modern Warfare 2's release. Activision also provided a slightly less extravagant shindig in New York's Union Square. A sizeable crowd formed in order to play the game a few hours before release, as a system link setup had been installed to provide a brief taste of what's to come in the co-op campaign. Similar to London's hip-hop stars making an appearance, Ice-T could be spotted in New York, and the public was treated to a performance from The Roots' DJ Questlove. All the VIPs in New York walked away with a Prestige edition of the game, making me realise I should have been a limp-walking, free goggle-toting rap star instead of a writer who loves to wear a nice, warm sensible jumper.
Sales figures for the launches aren't available yet, but Modern Warfare 2 is expected to at least give GTAIV a run for its money and, perhaps, smash Rockstar's record for the biggest launch in history. UK Trade mag MCV is reporting that 3 million copies of the game have already been shipped to UK retailers, so expect some mammoth sales figures to emerge as the week goes on, especially with all the hype around the ongoing supermarket price war that eclipsed the controversy surrounding the game's inflated RRP.
After recently drawing criticism from longtime video gaming critic Keith Vaz MP--who you may remember for his ill-informed Manhunt-related antics--for certain airport scenes, Labour's former digital minister Tom Watson has fought back by setting up a Facebook club called Gamers' Voice and raising the matter in parliament. Combating the claim that Modern Warfare 2 contains "scenes of brutality", the group has been made to show support to the industry that is often under fire for its adult content. With the Modern Warfare 2 launch taking over hundreds of stores worldwide (including 300 in Australia) and parading across Leicester Square in flamboyant fashion, surely this is the closest a game has come to reproducing the glitz and glamour of a movie premiere?