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Starcraft 2: The Midnight Launchening

As you may be aware, a little game called StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was released tonight. Alec? Probably best you back off. These fine folks aren't interested in a liveblog of the single player campaign. They're not interested in the game. These guys? They want to know about the midnight launch at the Game branch in London's fashionable Oxford Street. They want the glitz, the scoop, the drama. Lucky for them, I was there!

Things got off to a dodgy start with my canvassing the queue to see if I could find any Rock Paper shotgun readers. A Mr. Mike, who hesitantly claimed to have read Rock Paper Shotgun "A couple of times" (possibly following a link to some Eve Online news, he ventured), shared happy memories of playing the original StarCraft in the computer science lab at his school. I then met a Patrick, who hazarded that he "might have read an article" on RPS. He was happy to pay money for StarCraft II, but harboured some kind of terrible anger at what called the "commercialisation of PC gaming" and the removal of a LAN mode from SCII. My last exchange was with a Zak, who said he hadn't heard of Rock Paper Shotgun but advised me to put our articles on Digg because that's how you get a site off the ground.

Their taste in gaming news sites aside, it was a pretty respectable crowd. By 10:45pm there were easily 150 people stretching from the shop's entrance all the way around the corner, the lucky ones receiving free cupcakes from a girl in a Blizzard t-shirt and micro-shorts. It was actually almost exactly the same size of crowd drawn to the Burning Crusade midnight launch, although I hear Wrath of the Lich King was far, far bigger than that. Speaking of girls, there were a surprising number of them in the crowd. There were about as many girls as there were Koreans, who I also found a bit of a surprising presence. I suppose I assumed all Korean StarCraft fans lived in Korea.

At about 11:00pm the event organisers decided to turn on the dry ice machines in the shop, which immediately set off the fire alarm. I'm not sure how to describe the insides of this Game, with the dry ice, the shaky staff and this claustrophobic mass of industry professionals. It was like being inside a Mormon sauna.

But honestly, my heart goes out to the poor girl they had playing that Kerrigan you can see in the top image. Whatever it was about the costume that was giving her trouble, possibly the weight or heat or the fact that underneath all that toy chitin there must have been a slot for her body the size of a violin case, she seemed in genuine pain the entire time with a sum of fury underneath that. I actually heard her hiss at one point.

There were also these guys, who would smilingly take your photo against a greenscreen and photoshop you into an actual StarCraft marine helmet.

And here is me in an actual StarCraft marine helmet.


But it was all worthwhile. Noble readers of RPS, I present to you a photojourney through the unboxing of StarCraft II.

The box is weighty, the cover glossy and subdued. The back begins like this: "YOU'RE GOING IN. In the distant future, in the darkest reaches of space, the ghosts of the past whisper your name. You are Jim Raynor, a marshal-turned-rebel on a vigilante crusade to bring down the Dominion and its nefarious leader, Arcturus Mengsk."

Jesus Christ! You barely need to install the game. You've already gotten your money's worth, right there.

The StarCraft II box doesn't actually open. Instead, it gives birth. You're left holding another, smaller DVD case with its mother box unfurling into a giant landscape of battle that labels units new to StarCraft II.

But this rollercoaster ride isn't over yet! Inside the second DVD case is a miniscule paper manual that concerns itself largely with the game's lore (it's a spindly nerd, this manual), but there's also a 10 Day Trial of WoW and two guest codes that give somebody 7 hours of time with StarCraft II. I like that. I think that's pretty great.

Ee, enough of all this! I'm off to install this bad boy. I'm going in. Into the distant future, into the darkest reaches of space, where the ghosts of the past whisper my name. Maybe I'll see you there. Or maybe I should just go to bed.

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