Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Welcome to CoD Land

Activision threw the first ever public Call of Duty event on September 2nd and 3rd, 2011. Call of Duty XP The Event drew in thousands of people to experience multiplayer tournaments, a host of CoD themed attractions, and live musical performance by Drop Kick Murphy and Kanye West.

Arriving at about 10:30am on Friday I noticed a familiar sight--long lines. This would be a theme frequently found throughout the two day event. Luckily I got to wait in the shorter line because my employer advertises for Activision. After an hour an a half delay I was in the door, and listening to the keynote opening speech.

Things kicked off into high gear after some words from our sponsor and a handful of videos illustrating how Call of Duty is awesome. The massive crowd fanned out to explore the two large hangers and outdoor areas. One hanger was the main stage used for press interviews, panel discussions, tournament finalist, and the closing musical acts.

The other hanger was the gaming hub of the venue. Large fenced off sections had various Call of Duty MP games to play. Visitors could experience the new MW3 multiplayer, and/or Zombie DLC Resurrection. There were also MW2 and Black Ops areas for those wanting to play the classics. Each area was well organized with plenty of attentive staff to corral the lines, and ensure everyone got a chance to play. For those not willing to wait in line there were plenty of televisions to display the digital action.

Smack dab in the middle of the second hanger was the Sumo ring. This was one of many Call of Duty themed attractions. Participants would dress up in a sumo suite that mimicked the juggernaut outfits found in the game. The goal was to pin your opponent, or knock them out of the ring. Like many of the attractions at the event I enjoyed watching, but didn't feel the need/desire to wait in a two to three hour line. Besides more lines awaited outside.

Behind the two hangers was the outdoor attractions which included paint ball and off-road courses, a zip line, and an overpriced Burger Town. For those who aren't fans of Call of Duty Burger Town is the fictional fast food chain found in MW2. The prices were ridiculous, $12 for a burger meal and $17 for a double patty. The food quality was the equivalent of a cheap theme park. Beer was $7, and your choices were between cheap canned bear and cheap beer in plastic bottles.

Luckily the recreational activities were top notch. Scrapyard and The Pit, based off MW2 areas, were recreated for paintball. The former was for team games, and the latter was a one-man course. Once again I didn't feel like waiting in line for three hours so I decided to watch a few matches and move on. Same can be said for the off-road course. It looked like a lot of fun. Good steep climbs and even a little river to go through. Perhaps I will be more patient the next time around, and go to the event from open to close. This way I could wait in line more, and actually experience the action first hand.

The one thing I did wait around for was the zip line. Even with a fear of heights the ride was fun. The top platform gave a nice view of the entire area, and until I started spinning I felt super bad ass. Worse part was the stop---sorry groin. FYI: The video below is not me on the zip line--seriously.

After zipping about I headed inside to meet up with some old Activision co-workers, and to watch Kanye West perform. I would have seen Drop Kick Murphy's on Friday, but I had a previous engagement watching the great Andy C perform quality drum n' bass at the Music Box. From what I've read DKM did an excellent job, and brought a ton of energy to the crowd. West had a bigger turn out. You could easily tell who was there to see the game, and who was there to see Kayne. The biggest hint was the clothes. People came dressed up in club wear to a concert in a hanger. It was an odd fit. After two hours of solid entertainment, and lackluster sound, the event came to a close.

There was plenty of merchandise to remember the good ole days of Call of Duty XP The Event. T-shirts, hats, patches, and more were for sale. Those who waited in the gift bag line got a free copy of the hardened edition of Modern Warfare 3, which comes with a free year subscription to the recently announced Call of Duty Elite service. (Incidentally I waited in that line.) Other interesting areas that I didn't check out included the CoD museum, and the "Pros vs GI Joes" section that allowed attendees to play games with veterans. I would have liked to do the latter, but they were shutdown by the time I was off the zip line. All in all it was a great time, and I thank my employer for their generosity--e.g. getting me in the door.

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