StarCraft II happened, and it happened hardest in the Oxford Street branch of GAME at midnight last night. Tim and I were there to document the game's launch event.
What now follows is a semi-formed liveblog, going on what I scribbled on my phone between dodging giant plastic Kerrigans and scrubbing strange smelling dry ice from the recesses of my eye sockets. It may be slightly inaccurate.
8.30pm: The queue on Oxford Street is substantial but not overpowering. On the queue-o-meter, it sits somewhere between 'niche android handset' and 'less impressive MMO expansion.' We're nowhere near 'iPhone 4 meltdown' critical mass just yet. We leave, to return closer to launch.
11pm: We duck behind the blackout curtains obscuring the store's entrance. This branch of GAME is now a swamp. Dry ice pours from no discernible source. Someone whispers they've seen a woman dressed as Kerrigan outside. Or is it a Kerrigan dressed as woman? That might explain the smoke.
11.05pm: The gaggle of expectant StarCrafters has turned into a throng, growing organically. High on weird fumes and walking the length of the queue, I see a group of eggs placed gently on the floor by an insectoid drone – after a moment they pop, turning into men in their mid-twenties, clutching shoulder bags and Blizzard tat. I engage them in conversation to pre-empt their rush attack. They're still covered in the slime from their hatching.
11.07pm: It turns out that wasn't slime, and for zerglings, they're very nice. They were excited for StarCraft II's singleplayer modes primarily – less of their focus was on hyper-competitive multiplayer. Out in the night air and breathing free again, I wonder if they might be real humans after all.
11.15pm: I collared PCG reader Alex Knight – hello Alex! - who'd been in the queue for six hours. He was a big Blizzard fan, and trusted the company to produce with StarCraft II. He also looked stoic in the face of yet more queueing. Others around him were flagging. They required more pylons, I think.
11.30pm: KERRIGAN SIGHTING. She has a powdery green face, bouncy plastic dreadlocks, and spiny wings. She screeches once, then takes to the sky, flying down the length of the queue before picking up an unlucky queuer and infesting them with horrible zerg larva.
11.32pm: KERRIGAN UPDATE. Now she looks all uncomfortable and wobbly on her three inch heels, and is quietly escorted to the back of the shop. Either to cool down, or to feed more humans to the brood queen. One of the two.
11.40pm: There's a very disconcerting 'NUCLEAR LAUNCH' countdown on a large television. If every surface wasn't covered in StarCraft II emblazoned junk, and there wasn't a giant plastic woman tottering around, you'd be convinced the world was about to be destroyed.
11.41pm: After spending too much time in the shop breathing the strange air, I am convinced the world is about to be destroyed.
11.50pm: Ten minutes to go, and the crowd is audibly excited. They're all chittering their mandibles together and oh god what is in this smoke. People snake around the inside of the shop like a big snake made of people and queueing.
11.59pm: The nuke is about to launch deploy the countermeasures now!
12.00am: StarCraft II launches. Not literally – it's more handed to a very tall man in a StarCraft t-shirt, who was first in the queue. He looks pleased to receive armfuls of Blizzard stuff, and is wheeled away to talk to KERRIGAN and some ladies. That is his reward.
12.05pm: People are having their pictures taken then digitally placed inside a marine mask. The military really are resorting to underhand tactics to recruit these days.
12.10pm: After he'd escaped from Kerrigan's chitinous clutches, I grabbed the first man to snare a copy of the game: one Christopher White. He was there with his friend Terence, who had been second in the queue. They'd utilised a complicated chaining technique – alternating food and booze runs – to survive six hours of standing around. Such advanced tactics can only come from the multi-tasking mind of a set of StarCraft veterans.
12.15pm: Christopher departs, victorious. The blackout curtain is flung open now, and the air is clearer. The trickle of people turns into a flow as the path to get a copy of the game becomes obvious. After 13 years, StarCraft II can be played by all.
A big thanks to all the PC Gamer readers who spoke to us, and anyone else I stuck a dictaphone in front of. GGs to you all. Tim's now ensconced in his bunker, supply depots blocking his stairs against distractions, playing the face off the game to bring you our review as soon as possible.