When I said that we piled on a bus to the event, what I actually meant was we piled into more stretched hummers with some of the crew from G4 television - a gamer channel over in the US. After some rather excited interviews (featuring a whole host of thick accents) we were on our way to the aircraft hanger in the Mojave Desert.
The journey was tense and you could really sense the anticipation in the hummer I was in - even some of the guys that worked for Xbox were as excited as us.
Since night had already fallen, as we got closer we noticed a strange green glow in the distance. It was an unearthly unmistakable Xbox green and as we got closer, we slowly began to make out the hangar, uplit with lasers and lights - a foreboding sight in the Desert night.
We were quickly dropped off and shown through security where we were then led to a stand giving out free Zero Hour hoodies and free Xbox 360 memory cards. Having obtained our memory cards, we were then able to get our Xbox Live accounts migrated to the Xbox 360 and then saved to the memory cards. This would allow us to play on the 360s using our own Xbox Live accounts, since the Xbox 360 is seriously geared around online play. This was seriously cool.
As we waited for the doors of the hangar to be opened, Peter Moore and J Allard (the big men of Xbox) gave a short introduction. And then the music changed. And the lights changed. And the Origen tree appeared on the doors. And then the doors opened. The crowd cheered, stopped throwing their free bean bags about and surged into the hangar, anxious to get their hands on the wonders of Xbox 360.
The hangar was fairly open plan with hundreds of round tables, each holding 4 Xbox 360s, dotted around the floorspace. This was cleverly done to allow ample space for moving about and standing around watching. There were also two VIP sections in each corner of the hangar where only the Origen and Hex winners were allowed to go, along with the employees of Xbox. The VIP areas also had free soft drinks and snacks as well as a pretty cool chill-out area.
There was a food tent outside the hangar and several physical activities like giant table football to allow you to get up and move around a bit. Unfortunately, I’m not sure these were so important as the hardcore gamer contingent were clearly there to game for 36 hours.
There was also a stage at one end of the hangar where various things took place such as multiplayer tournaments, Kaiju Big Battel, live bands and future game demonstrations (Gears of War looks pretty cool).
So anyway, I spent quite a while wandering the floor, trying out various games - my favourites being Perfect Dark Zero, Project Gotham Racing 3, Kameo: Elements of Power, Condemned: Criminal Origin, 99 Nights and Dead or Alive 4. The games looked awesome on the HDTVs and it was hard not to be swayed by the graphics when judging the games. Unfortunately, this is where Call of Duty 2 fell down in my opinion - it looked awesome but it was far too linear to be fun. It would appear, however, that few other people noticed this since it’s been one of the best selling titles since launch…
Ah well. There’s no accounting for taste…
Needless to say, there’s not much more I can tell you about the event. It kept going and I caved and went back to the hotel for a few hours sleep before returning. It ended with the official launch of the 360 in the States and 3 trucks were brought in under police escort filled with Xbox 360s for those that had bought them at the event.
After that, 25 tired Origen winners were taken back to their original hotel via a coach and pretty much all retired to bed, ready to return home the next day in wait of the Xbox 360s they would receive on December the 2nd.