Are people getting less excited about midnight launches? Or does it just depend on the game, or even the event itself? We'll have a chance to test that theory this week with what looks to be yin and yang launches. Last night we went to the midnight launch of Activision's James Bond game Quantum of Solace, and at the other end you've got Gears of War 2 launching on Friday. We'll have to see how they compare, because last night's Quantum of Solace launch was a big Dr. No.
Emails went out last week touting, "Bond girls, MI6 agents, the Aston Martin DBS from the film with activities, prizes throughout the evening and other fun surprises await those that show up for the Best Buy midnight opening launch event in West Hollywood, CA for Activision's Quantum of Solace video game." Sound fairly exciting, right? You don't see Bond girls, a DBS, or have fun surprises every day.
The only problem was, it just didn't really happen that way. The promised James Bond multiplayer setup: six players vs. each other on six different PlayStation 3s didn't work. You could create a game, but then it wouldn't start because the consoles couldn't see each other. We were told we could play the new Alicia Keys / Jack White title "Another Way To Die" song from Quantum of Solace in Guitar Hero World Tour on one of the setups they had... but the song wasn't in there. Also, the promised refreshments turned out to be Coke Zero served in plastic martini glasses. We hope they shook it first.
Granted, there were a few hired girls on hand to look like Bond arm candy, but since the temperature dipped below 55 in Los Angeles last night, they were bundled up in coats. There was an Aston Martin DBS on hand, that someone kept rubbing down with a shammy (or was fantasizing about it), but it was behind velvet ropes and stand-offish. They raffled off some pretty impressive prizes, including three PS3s, a $2,500 Best Buy gift card, copies of the new James Bond Blu-ray discs, and a 52" Sony Bravia TV. However, we noticed that the same people walked off with major prizes a couple of times. Later we found out they'd been double-dipping into the raffle tickets. On election eve, even. For shame.
We did hop on a PS3 and played the game for awhile, but even on medium setting it's just too easy. The AI enemies all look the same and they can't seem to shoot a bullet straight at all. Hacking into computers or unlocking doors is a simple game of Simon by pushing the d-pad in whatever direction the computer tells you to, and hacking into video cameras involves holding down a button while you watch what amount to a load screen. And for all of his heroic traits and athletic abilities, James Bond can't even swim. The game refuses to let you go into the water unless it's shin-deep. We wanted to see how it was on the Wii, but they only had PS3 setups. It felt flat and emotionless, like our drinks.
What we were really surprised by was that no one from Treyarch was at the launch event. Treyarch is based in Santa Monica, which is about 10 miles from the event ... and no one could show up? Someone at the event told us that with the time change and the election coming up tomorrow that they couldn't really put anything together. Wait ... what? That sounds like one of the shakiest excuses since "my alarm didn't go off." Activision is based in Los Angeles as well, and they had a couple of reps at the event, but that was pretty much it. Is this game being swept under the carpet?
We decided to take photos of people buying the game just a few minutes after midnight, but there was no one inside except for Best Buy employees. They had two tables set up near each other, one selling Resistance 2, and the other selling Quantum of Solace and other Bond stuff. The manager came over and asked us, "Is there anyone still outside at the party?" When we told him no he said, "Well, we're supposed to stay open until 1:45am. This doesn't make any sense." It does when people just aren't interested in your game. Of course, maybe the time change got them, and everyone showed up at 1.
Quantum of Solace is available today, and we're hoping there's a different story when we hit the Gears of War 2 launch on Thursday.