The Resident Evil 5 Best Buy launch

[Destructoid reader and community member Joey Buckets attended the Best Buy Resident Evil 5 midnight launch in Stroudsburg, PA last...

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[Destructoid reader and community member Joey Buckets attended the Best Buy Resident Evil 5 midnight launch in Stroudsburg, PA last night. No mere launch event, the spectacle featured the US Army, zombies, and a haunted house. Oh, also sexy zombies, apparently. 

Outside of formatting and a few style changes, Joey’s full account — seen below — has been unchanged. Enjoy!] 

Let me preface this by saying that I love the zombie genre (one that I’m not sure Resident Evil belongs to anymore). I own the Zombie Survival Guide, and am a member of a local service group centered around “zombie fascination.”  It’s my thing. So imagine my surprise when I heard that for the Resident Evil 5 launch my local Best Buy would be hosting a zombie apocalypse.  I immediately scoured the Intertubes for any and all information pertaining to the event, but all links referenced or linked directly back to one particular blog. [Editor’s note: Joey’s talking about Kotaku]

After reading said blog, with each new update the ante was raised. “We’ve got zombies!” “No, wait, we have zombies and a haunted house!” “Still not biting? Now we have zombies, a haunted house, and the US Army!”

My interest peaked right around the time it was released that there would be a confrontation between real US Army soldiers and a zombie horde (using live, blank ammunition), and there would be a chainsaw with spattering blood. I am not sure whether I wanted this fail or succeed, but I knew I had to be there.

Thursday night I left the Buckets household around 11:00 P.M. with an excited feeling, like Christmas, only with zombies and guns. I arrived at the Best Buy a few moments before midnight. The outside temperature was a bitter 28 degrees, and there was a pretty good line already formed, probably 200-300 deep. There was police tape set up around the front of the store, a military Humvee, a tent (US Army), and a small stage by the front door. 

As I got closer I could hear miserable banter by a few folks from Breaking and Entering Productions (the folks who brought us the viral ads leading up to the event) about movies and geekdom. As I made my way around the line, an announcement was made that completely took the wind out of my sails. 

“Folks, there will be no fake or real guns, no bags, and no cameras inside the store.” 

Wait, what? I’m with you on the guns and bags, but no cameras? My first instinct was that it was so badly executed that they wanted no evidence. Later on it was explained to me that any and all pictures of the event could be found on the blog that had helped pump up the event. Funny. It was funny because said blog was always a bastian for freedom of information and doing things with integrity. However, it just may be that I wanted pictures of my own and do not like corporate agreements and “exclusives”, because that’s how I roll.

The line wound around a US Army tent from which there was a cacophony of gunfire and oddly irate ducks. Turns out that this was a shooting range using a weighted M16 (no blowback — frown) and a large five foot by five foot screen.  The graphics were easily on par with Wii Sports, but it was a neat diversion to keep me from thinking about how my babymaker was slowly going from an outie to an innie due to the cold. What I found more amusing were the taunts coming from the emo kids in line.  

“Hey son, the Army could use a guy like you.”  

“Nice shooting son, have you considered a career in the Army?”  

The US Army sponsored the event as a recruiting tool, unfortunately, as the gamer age progresses from 13-18 to the now average being above 21; gamers are no longer swayed by cool guns and trucks. They are more likely to criticize the lack of blowback on the gun, and the graphics of the setup. By the time I reached the front door, the Army was calling it a night, as was Breaking and Entering’s Stage crew. Everyone in line agreed that the Breaking and Entering crew needed to work on their stage act, and everyone laughed when I shouted back at them “Just end it.  Preferably with a good Holocaust joke to complete the death spiral.”  Fortunately Dennis O’Brian had one in his repertoire, and he plugged that other blog before slinking offstage.

Upon entering the store (1:00 A.M. or so) we were asked to sign waivers. This probably led to the delay in entering the store, to which I inquired why they had not gone through the line with the waivers while we were waiting to help expedite the process. I never received the answer, but I’m assuming it had something to do with Best Buy being
too busy trying to sign people up for credit cards.

The release stated that we would not be adversely affected by: strobe lights, scares, etc.  It also stated that we waived any right for legal action should something occur. I, of course. signed my nom de plume “Harry Dickman” and waited for entry.  As we walked into the store we were met by Trent, our metrosexual tour guide. He stated that they were conducting tests of the virus. (At a Best Buy? Because you have great doctors? How about the Army chased the Doctor into the Best Buy and he was holed up here?  I’ll pretend you said that.) He led us through the store where there were zombies, doctors, a triage area with folks in various stages of infection.

The folks from Breaking and Entering did a great job with the effects and acting, some of it was campy, absolutely creepy as hell. For instance, after we passed through the triage area we moved on to the next area an infected broke loose and attacked the rear members of our party (also actors who mixed in as we entered the store  — nice touch).  In our group we had a younger person (probably eight or nine years old); I basically judged creepiness by is reaction, as I feel somewhat desensitized to zombie violence at this stage of life. According to Dartanian’s reactions this zombie infection was an eight out 10 — he was losing his mind.

As we progressed through the store we were shown videos of newscasts and randomly attacked by zombies. This is where it got weird for me. Some of the zombies were college girls. I love me some college girls. Apparently zombie college girls have just as much of an issue keeping their shirts down as the living, because the crawling-across-the-floor zombie had problems keeping her shirt down (no boob shots, but it was oddly titillating — this girl was in shape). My focus was then taken off of the experience and placed firmly on the question of whether or not I would bang an infected if she was hot.  The answer?  Probably, if I had condoms and it was these particular zombies.  Moving along.

I was actually really weirded out by one particular zombie girl who was on the floor, stroking a doll – reminiscent of the Little Sisters in Bioshock. It was actually disturbing. The final scream was supposed to come as we were attacked by a sack-guy with a chainsaw. I reacted miserably as expected. This poor guy came running out with a real chainsaw with a body on the end of it buzzing away. He literally ran right up to me, and then continued through the screaming crowd
behind me. I didn’t move, or scream, or anything.  I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t know what was going on or what.  The Best Buy rep ran up to me and just stared (asking if I was OK), I think he thought either I was mentally deficient or frozen in fear. I was more “Meh.”

After chainsaw guy we were ushered to the front of the store to buy our copies of Resident Evil 5. This is the real litmus test. Did the experience get me to buy a copy of a game I really had no interest in playing?  Sadly, it did.  As much as I love zombies and games that involve them, I have not played a Resident Evil since the Gamecube remake due to what I consider to be a piss poor control scheme in this day and age, and an aversion to
playing zombie games that no longer include zombies.  Another item of note is that roughly 40% of the people there actually bought the game.

This will surely be talked about today in boardrooms.  If they want my advice, make the cash register path more clear. I was not sure where to go to buy the damn game.  As we were at the front door I actually had to ask where to go to buy the damn thing.

If I had to sum up the event and hand out a report card I would grade the event like this:

Best Buy: A

The sheer awesomeness of an idea (from a part time employee) going from inception to reality in a large company like that is rare.  I applaud them for trying something new, and hope I see more of it in the future.  I took points off for the lack of waiver signing while we were in line as opposed to doing it in store, wasting time in
my opinion.

US Army: C 

They pass, but just barely.  If you want to recruit, might I suggest enthusiasm.  I’m freezing my ass off too, so its not just you, and aren’t you supposed to be immune to the elements? Their shooting game was dated (many commented on this), and without blowback ts a poor arcade title, not a recruiting tool.  I would have landed a
chopper in the lot at midnight with a squad firing blanks safely away from the crowd and assaulting the store.  No such luck.  No guns, no assault, no chopper, just a lonely Hummer.  Before you say anything about the cost of such a thing, the Tobyhanna Army Depot is less than five minutes by car, so such an event could have easily been planned and executed in a months time, with little more cost (if any) than standard maintenance.

Breaking and Entering Productions – A  These guys were really good. Some of the makeup was not great, but the majority of it was creepy and well done. I liked the hot half naked (unintentionally so) college chick, and the Little Sister look alike. Overall extremely satisfying.  If they had more time the whole presentation would have
seemed less disjointed. I would take points off for the whole no pictures thing, but it was a business decision and I can’t blame them — this may be the only cool thing to happen in the Poconos for quite a while that requires their services. One of the zombies even came out and shuffled along the line (likely freezing his ass off) and mingling
to calm us down.

Coverage Leading Up to Event:

I say this for several reasons. The first reason is that you should never publish details until they are completely firm. There were no Capcom giveaways (that I saw), no live rounds expended, and no splattering blood from real chainsaws. Get your story straight. 

Secondly, blocking out pictures is no way to win readers who stand in line all damn night to experience something.
Saying “Come to our blog for your photos” is another way to say “Sorry jackass but welcome to corporate America where information is controlled by those in positions of power.” Whatever. I’m just disappointed I have no pictures to show anyone from an otherwise cool experience.  I was also disappointed that all blogs pointed back to basically one source for the info.  I am not sure if this is laziness on the media’s part or some deal between Best Buy, B&E Productions, and one particular media outlet.

As far as midnight launches go, this one was top notch, and Best Buy will have my money for every event they do like this … that’s kind of the point isn’t it?

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