Modern Warfare 3 Launch Event - November 14th 2011

At any point during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 launch we faced court martial. Instead of the usual burly bouncers at The Old Billingsgate, there was an army of hardened guards to keep guests in check, suited and booted in black spec ops gear, wielding assault rifles (no-one chanced asking if they were loaded), and murmuring convincing chatter into their walkie talkies.

There were strict orders- have fun, solider. Not ones to disobey a direct command, we tried our hand at 16-player LAN multiplayer, ducked and dived our way through a CoD-inspired laser tag, and later proceed onto a packed dance floor with Dubsteppers Example and Chase and Status.The launch party was one of three Activision capital takeovers, with simultaneous events happening in Paris and Berlin. There was even a pan-European deathmatch streamed to the crowd and narrated by Danny Wallace.

16 player LAN multiplayer was available.

Popular music acts and convenient bathroom facilities aside, these events mirrored the game's campaign - coordinated terrorist attacks on key cities which spark off World War 3. In keeping with the theme, caterers were more field support, offering ration boxes of nachos, fried chicken and mini burgers (hopefully an unlockable perk for MW4), attendees could pose with soldiers and there was camouflage netting everywhere. Just like real war.

Best of all, though, was laser tag. Taken through in twos, guests were strapped up with bulletproof vests, given chunky carbines with red dot sights, and ordered to breach an underground facility. Think MW2's The Pit, only with real guards comically floundering when hit with laser fire, and a mean-looking officer growing ever raspier yelling "Confirmed kill!" from a balcony.

The Laser Tag was awesome. However, it didn't look like this.

Off course, the focus of the evening was on the game itself. Dozens of pods were set up around the venue, some showing off the solo campaign, others letting pairs try their hand at the new wave-based Spec Ops mode. Best of all was the 16-player roundtable deathmatch, complete with massive HDTV's for each player and just-released MW3 Turtle Beach headsets which made the game sound incredible.

Love it or hate it, Call of Duty has hit the mainstream like a tactical nuke. With a single sweep of the show floor you could spot celebrities like Example, Ashley Cole, Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Mike Tindall, Chase and Status, Joey Barton and Danny Wallace. Much like its campaign, Call of Duty is a globally impactive phenomenon, and this event proved it.

Ben Griffin

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