Black Ops 2 launch party sees in midnight release
If you’ve ever gone to a new nightclub, you’ll have learned to judge a venue by the queue forming. And last night outside the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 launch party there was quite a queue – several hundred people attended the invite-only event – engaging in small-talk about gaming while listening the heavy bass vibrating from the other side of the wall. Even with the promise of a party ahead, everyones’ minds were focused on playing.
Held at the Bloomsbury Ballroom in London to lead through the hours until the game’s midnight release, the venue was spread across several rooms. The first was perhaps the most important – stage with a DJ, a circular bank of 16 Xboxes ready for the some tournament play, and further back another two dozen systems ready for guests to jump on and have a go themselves.
Random games were being run – deathmatches, domination and the ever popular zombies – and provided the main focal point for people gathering to watch. On the whole, finding a good viewpoint was only interrupted when moving for drinks or the cameras capturing the event in photographs or video.
Loud as the music and conversation was, it couldn’t quite dampen the sounds of gunfire from the screens, or exclamations of victory and defeat as kills were made or suffered. But even with headsets, communication for anything more precise was difficult… team games made of random groupings quickly became free-for-all carnage, and so naturally all the more fun for spectators.
After watching for a while, players seemed to fit into one of three categories -
- Firstly, the dedicated – focused on the game, high scoring, often optimistically trying to organise the teams into a cohesive units;
- Secondly, the casual – usually sitting where they could be next to a friend, able to hold their ground while also able to laugh at treading on their own grenade or falling off of the maps;
- Finally, the lost – players who leave you wondering if they know the game, getting fed up of dying and attempting team kills instead (or in one instance, asking how to make the character turn).
Further back at the venue was perhaps the other main reason for many people coming – the bar. A smaller room but holding as much attraction as the game playing next door, it provided a good-spirited noisy chaos – people shouting conversations over the music and each other, standing around as others elbowed their way through.
Busy would perhaps understate it. It seemed like nothing short of going full No Russian would get you to the bar in a decent time…
Also working through the crowds were waiting staff, holding trays of finger foods provided by MEATliquor, who were also serving in the long bar – the decoration styled on an American diner, less width than a typical bus but running the same length as the ballroom next door.
The evening was broken up by two celebrity PvP sessions; the music stopped as commentators took over. The first set of matches were won by a team headed by Olympic gymnastics silver medallist and current contender on Strictly Come Dancing Louis Smith. His team convincingly beat a team led by London-based rapper Professor Green, with Smith crediting his success to gaming during breaks while training. The second set, held a while later into the evening, had Smith hold his lead in a very tightly fought match against comedian Jack Whitehall’s team.
(Being interviewed afterwards, Whitehall told the host he’d rematch against Smith at Fifa. There followed a half moment’s pause, before the host said they couldn’t talk about ‘that other game’. Whitehall obviously saw his chance. “You know what else is a good game?” he asked. “Battlefield.”)
The celebrity gaming over, the main music event of the evening started as DJ Jaguar Skills performed a set to carry everyone through to midnight. Known for his eclectic mixes, he lived up to his reputation with a selection that ran through countless genres – music including Prodigy, M-Beat, White Stripes, and even Adele. Plus the A-Team theme tune (obviously).
People were dancing, gaming, drinking… personally, I went for the gaming, hopping onto a free seat when the opportunity arose and making a few frags for the honour of GamesFiends.
At 11:59 the music dropped again, as a countdown of the last minute started rolling, hitting midnight with a cheer from the crowd. This was followed by a video of players who’d been queuing at HMV in Oxford Street earlier in the evening (where other events were being held), before leading into the game’s logo and tagline – “the future is black”.
The hosts informed everyone they could stay until being thrown out, although within a few minutes the crowd in the main ballroom had thinned considerably (the bar, however, had not). Gaming did continue for a while longer, but the event itself seemed over and it felt time to leave – it was time to head out, get a copy, and start playing at home.