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X360F at the GOW "After Dark" event

A buddy and I hiked out to GameStop last night for the Gears of War "After Dark" event. You know, the one with the "exclusive" video that's been on the internet for a whole day now. Of course, the dinky YouTube video doesn't really do the game justice like a 42" HDTV (I forced myself not to watch the leaked video so I could see it on a big screen). We met some GOW fans, shot some (probably awful) video, and we even got some swag. Read on for our experience and X360F's first video evar -- shot by good friend and occasional commenter, thomdano (scroll to the bottom if the thought of reading about our visit makes you cringe).

We got there at 8:30, half an hour before the store closed. We stood there, chatting with the staff and the manager, who informed us that we wouldn't be able to film inside the store. He also tells us that they have well over 100 pre-orders for Gears of War. At the counter, I overheard a mother buying a copy of an NCAA game ask her son, "are you sure you don't have this game?" Yeah, mom, he's sure. We also saw a little girl run head first into a DS Lite demo unit protruding from the counter. So much for Nintendo's kid friendly image. At this point I told the manager that the video had already been on the internet for a while. "How long?" he asked, somewhat concerned, "hours, days?" I told him, and we both surmised it was undoubtedly a GameStop employee who leaked it. Finally, they start putting together the AV setup. The DVD player they used was none other than our old friend, the Xbox 1.

They tell us that some guys from the Dell kiosk at the other end of the mall are bringing a "42 HDTV. I was a little disappointed that they decided to use an Xbox as a DVD player, since it won't play DVDs in 720p. We love the Xbox and all, but this is the HD era after all. Four minutes after store closing there are about 13 people there. One person tells me he was at another GameStop and it was empty, "I didn't want to be the only guy there." He says he's hoping to see real gameplay in the video. He wants to know it's not "just another shooter." He wasn't disappointed.

We're still waiting on the TV so I take stock of the people in the store. Five or six of them are off-duty employees with their friends and family who've come to see the show. I see a blank-faced girl at the counter with a Victoria's Secret bag. Something tells me her boyfriend dragged her here. At about 15 after 9:00, the TV shows up. The manager -- "the Ringmaster" as I call him -- hands out coupons for free Gears of War themes and gamer pics. More on that later.

By now, there are around twenty people. Several minutes go by as the employees wrestle with technical difficulties. Finally, they start the video. It's a little jarring under the fluorescent lights. They really should have turned them off. Anyway, there's Cliffy on the screen, everyone's excited. The video starts. Remember, I haven't seen it yet. Even in SD, this game is gorgeous. It's easily the prettiest game on the 360, which pretty much makes it the prettiest game on earth. I'm not kidding, forget the little videos you've seen. It's better than that on a real TV. On screen, Marcus and Dom are under fire, and a little girl (who really shouldn't be watching this) says, "I'd get back in the helicopter if I was them."

The manager already told us that we won't see the chainsaw, but that doesn't stop one of the employees from uttering, "The chainsaw ... all I want to see is the chainsaw." We all watch as the player in the video revs the chainsaw but screws up the kill. "This guy sucks," says an onlooker. Now the video is over, and it's obvious that everyone is pretty fired up. The manager hands out free posters, and people start placing pre-orders. After talking to a few more people, I go ahead and get mine squared away. For my troubles, I get a free GOW dog tag.
And that was pretty much it. A handful of people are now even more hyped for Gears of War. Now, I said I'd give away my swag, and I will. We have five theme/picture pack combos to give away. Unfortunately, it seems like they don't work right now. As soon as they do, we'll make sure you all have a chance to get your hands on them.

And now, for the first time anywhere, our video!

Remember, we're new at this. Be gentle. So, did anybody else go? Was your experience better? Worse? Let us know.

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