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Joystiq at the Gears of War 2 launchapalooza

Kevin Kelly

This is an extremely hard post to finish. Not because the Los Angeles Gears of War 2 launch party sucked (it didn't), not because we didn't get enough photos (took plenty), and not because we didn't get good interviews (CliffyB Cliff Bleszkinski and John DiMaggio, the voice of Marcus Fenix AND Bender, and others ... coming to you very soon). No, it's because we got the game, came home and slid it into the 360, and thought, "Hey, it'll be fun to try this Horde mode out!" Now it's 9:15 am, and it feels like one of those days where you wake up and realize you have a chemistry test in two hours that you didn't study for at all.

Gallery: Gears of War 2 Launch: Los Angeles | 51 Photos

Last night's launch in Los Angeles was held at the Universal Citywalk GameStop, site of so many other launches, including the Nintendo Wii, Halo 3, and The Burning Crusade. One of the things that makes this site ideal is that it has a main stage that's set up right in front of the store, and the post is also thronged by restaurants. In fact, there's a Hard Rock Cafe a stone's throw from the front doors. So, gamers don't just have to sit idly outside a store on the sidewalk waiting until midnight. That is, unless they're made to.

The event was emceed by Major Nelson, and throughout the night he pulled people out of the crowd and up onto the stage to play multiplayer Gears 2 with the kiosks set up inside the store. The first round of players included all of the voice talent from the game, everyone from Anya to Baird was there, and of course Marcus Fenix and the Cole Train as well. John DiMaggio, who provides the voice of Marcus as well as Bender, was late to the party (by design it seems), and while the other voiceover actors were playing the game, suddenly a voice boomed over the speakers, "Baird, Cole, Dom! You guys can't do anything without me!" DiMaggio then strode onstage and proceeded to kick some butt ... in the game.

Up until midnight, Microsoft representatives were tossing COG tags, beanies, shirts, and Gears comic books into the crowd, although the only refreshments being served were -- and this is no joke -- Red Bull and Warheads candy. Talk about a healthy gaming diet! The guys (and gal) from Nightmare Armor Studios were on hand as well, completely dressed from head to toe in custom-made Gears armor. They had the giant COGs strapped around their necks, and Marcus Fenix even had some extremely weird contact lenses in to give him that steely blue stare. They looked pretty impressive ... but one cute kid in homemade armor stole their thunder:

At midnight, Giovanni Sanchez became the first person to (legally) buy Gears of War 2 in California ... and he doesn't even own an Xbox 360. Seriously. The guy waited in line from 11 am until midnight to buy a game for a console he doesn't even own! Well, at least he'll have some happy friends. After the registers started ringing, people lined up to go through the gauntlet of autographs, where security guards yelled, "You can only get one item signed!"

We joined the trek of people heading home to play this thing, and then this morning realized that it needs a "This game may become addictive" warning on the box. See you online!

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