Red Dead Redemption
After slight disappointment that there would be no fan-site event in October 2010 for the initial release of The Ballad of Gay Tony for Xbox360, the invitation to an event for the release of Episodes from Liberty City on PS3 and PC came as a nice surprise.
Myself and Casey arrived around 5:00pm after a long car ride with a very entertaining chauffeur who, by the end of the trip, was trying to sell us a $50 million mansion. We checked in, brought our stuff up to our rooms, and within minutes received an email from Rockstar that we should be in the lobby at 6:30 where we met some familiar faces, as well as a new one.
After being introduced to Jesse from IGN's GTA Hood and catching up with everyone for about an hour, Rockstar reps showed up to bring us to the Old Homestead Steakhouse, New York's oldest. Upon arrival, the place was packed, but after a few minutes we were led upstairs to a private dining room. After a fabulous meal including a Jenga tower of garlic bread sitting atop a pool of melted cheese, which was used as dipping sauce for basically everything else that evening, we were told that tomorrow our minds would be blown.
The next morning, I ordered some $40 eggs from room service, and then met everyone downstairs around 11:30 to be taken to Rockstar's office once again. While we ultimately ended up in the same fifth-floor conference room as last year's Chinatown Wars experience, this time we were given a quick tour of the fourth floor, the walls of which were lined with arcade-style "games from companies [Rockstar] put out of business." After a few hours of playing new content in Episodes from Liberty City on both PC and PS3, a few of us gathered around a PS3 and were messing around with the swing set glitch. We managed to spawn a boat in just the right spot and were able to get into the boat before the swing set launched it halfway across the island. When it was time to leave the office, we were given promises of speed boat racing, which turned out to be Rockstar slang for something totally different.
We loaded into a huge passenger van outside of the hotel around 7:30. After a 30-minute ride into Brooklyn, we pulled behind the Red Dead Redemption promotional van, so we knew, for the most part, what was in store for us. Inside of the big empty warehouse, Rockstar personally set up the space to replicate a saloon from the early 1900's. There was a guy playing the piano, girls in wild west outfits serving food and drinks, and all of the flat screen televisions and Xbox360s were attached to hand-made gallows, each complete with a hangman's noose. Wooden barrels were placed throughout the room, and lit dynamite-shaped candles were burning all around us. As with the previous events, the environment in which we played the game replicated the game itself.
We were shown a quick demo of the single player mode on the second-floor loft before manning our gallows to play multiplayer. The map is massive and wide-open. The animations and the level of graphical detail surpass that of GTA4, and what we were playing wasn't even the final build of the game. I lost track of time, and I think most of us started to leave around 2:00am. We were assured that swag would be mailed to us, since last year Chris's Lost and Damned Xbox360 got lost at customs on the way home. Myself and Casey, since we were the only ones who did not take a plane, were given our own dynamite candles. Can you imagine trying to get that through airport security?
The next day, everyone checked out of the hotel and we hung out in the lobby until our rides arrived. Kyle, who seems to get the worst itinerary out of all of us every single time, was gone before I even woke up. Half of the group decided to take a quick trip to the Apple Store with Simon, who wanted to buy an iPad. The rest of us stayed behind and watched Andy nurse his hangover. The other half returned iPadless, just in time for the first couple of cars to arrive. Andy, myself, and Casey were the first to leave, and the rest of the Americans left shortly thereafter. Everyone said their goodbyes and thanked Rockstar for having us come out again. I don't know of any other game company who goes to such lengths to luxuriate their supporters.
Red Dead Redemption promo merch.
Even the hotel room was red.
Jenga tower of garlic bread on a pool of melted cheese.
Daytime view from the hotel room.