CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3 launched at midnight last night – and BeefJack’s Robbie Palmer was at GAME on London’s Oxford Street to get the scoop…
As I arrived on a cold, wet Tuesday evening at GAME on London’s Oxford Street, I was greeted by a sea of dedicated Modern Warfare fans, soldiers, loud music, aggressive security and flashing lights. Yes, this certainly was a Call of Duty midnight launch.
Spotlights were pointing at the GAME store building, making it the centre of attention on Oxford Street for the night. Green smoke poured out of the top of the buildings as armed soldiers guarded the entrance to the retailer along with sandbags and camouflaged netting. Clearly somebody was spending large amounts of money to make this a landmark occasion.
Around 300 people were already in the queue waiting for Infinity Ward’s next big FPS, a number that increased as the mass of bodies was eventually allowed into the building. The tired but dedicated fans were treated to a sensory overload as GAME made sure they watched multiple trailers of Modern Warfare 3 at full volume.
Days in line
Mad Sirman, a 27-year-old Call of Duty fan from London, had been queuing since last Friday afternoon – that’s four long autumn nights outside GAME in anticipation of Modern Warfare 3. Surprisingly, he’d not spent all that time waiting for the everlasting multiplayer component, but for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it singleplayer game.
“I’m all about the campaign,” he told me. “It’s got a really solid storyline. I’m interested to see all the familiar characters from the Modern Warfare series again. This could be the best CoD yet – especially with the Call of Duty Elite support.”
At 11:30 we were treated to real soldiers abseiling down the front of the flagship GAME store. This brought in even more onlookers: the crowds now completely obstructed the pavement as customers swarmed the entrance. The queue for the game grew to around double at this point, stretching around the corner to another street.
We in the press were then allowed inside the store, positioned next to the counter where the first copies of the game were to be purchased. Already there was Infinity Ward’s Justin Harris, game designer on Modern Warfare 3. [Continues below...]
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Developer: Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer Games
UK Release Date: 08/11/2011
Formats: PC, PS3, Xbox 360,
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 review [PC, PS3, Xbox 360]
[...Continued] “The midnight launch is going pretty amazing,” he said. “We’ve got a nice crowd and they’ve been here for a while. It’s nice to see the motivation is still up. We’re 25 minutes from launch and I know I’m getting nervous.”
What players want
There’s always going to be a great deal of anticipation for a new Call of Duty game, I mentioned. Harris agreed. “The expectation is very high,” he said.
“But the goal is to really get a product out there that people will love and enjoy, not trying to be better than the last one or anything like that. It’s just trying to give players the experience they’re used to, giving a little tweak here and there to alleviate some of the problems we came across, to give the best experience a player can have.”
For this iteration of Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward worked alongside the newly formed Sledgehammer Games, established by developers whose previous credits include Dead Space.
Working alongside Sledgehammer “was really good,” said Harris. “We both had really great ideas, and we’re both great teams. When we started we locked ourselves in a room and came up with the best ideas we could, and those made it into the game.”
The countdown timer, which had been running down since I arrived earlier in the evening, was down to the last ten minutes when the patient customers were allowed in the store itself. With ten seconds to go, it was reminiscent of a New Year’s countdown.
GAME employees gave applause as Mad Sirman picked up his free hardened edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, his Call of Duty-branded Xbox 360 and his CoD Turtle Beach headset. “I’m going straight home and I’m going to play the campaign until I fall asleep,” he smiled.
You got the impression that nobody in the line was going to bed any time soon.