Yesterday was one of those days of complete anticipation. I had been prepping myself for about a week, for one of those really awesome experiences that only comes along once in a while.
The last time I was this excited was when I flew in an airplane for the first time. I remember going to the airport, with a knot in my stomach, not really knowing what to expect. I mean, before then I had only really heard other people talking about it, but nothing quite feels real until you have experienced it yourself. The take off, the turbulence the jolt at landing. All were experiences that I could never have imagined. It wasn’t just exhilarating, it was unique.
The same could be said about my experience on the Gautrain yesterday. Said to be the fastest train in Africa, it took me less than 15 minutes to travel from Kempton Park to Sandton. While in theory this is possible in a car, traffic and road rules simply restricts this from happening. The journey itself was interesting to say the least. Looking out the window of the cart, things seemed to actually move quite slowly. If anyone of you have been on a roller-coaster or the runaway train at Gold Reef City, then you will have an idea of what I’m talking about. The only difference here was instead of the wind rushing through your hair, you are enclosed in this “pressurised” caccoon. I say pressurised because everything seemed still in and non-eventful inside the train.
The strangest thing during the journey for me was entering the long underground tunnel on approach to Sandton itself. By my reasoning, the rising and falling landscape of Johannesburg would have probably made it difficult to keep the Gautrain rails above ground, so instead what they did was bury deep, DEEP, underground and when I say deep I really do mean deep. You see, when I arrived at Sandton station I had expected to just disembark, maybe go up one flight of stairs (like you see with the subway systems in New York) and then you would be above ground. Not so. I don’t remember the exact amount of escalators I traversed, but I’d say it was easily about five or six. And then I had to go up another set of escalators to reach the bus level.
After about 30 minutes in rush hour traffic, and narrowly finding and disembarking the bus across the road from Microsoft’s South African headquarters on William Nicol Road, I finally arrived at the Far Cry 3 launch event, hosted by Ubisoft South Africa and Microsoft South Africa for what was promised to be an insane evening of fun.
Now for those of you who haven’t been to a Microsoft-hosted shindig, this is generally how it works. Upon arrival you are given either a small gift, or some or the other welcoming gesture. In this case we got 3 free drinks tokens. So off I went to the bar and got myself a beer. I then proceeded to mingle with the other attendees, some of whom I know, and others who I didn’t. The thing is, I’m quite a shy guy, and if I don’t already know someone, or they aren’t introduced to me by the before-mentioned, then I wouldn’t likely approach someone on my own. We live in a faceless Internet community, identified only by our Twitter-handles, and the pictures adhered to our accounts are either not us (being a cool geek-related picture) or a very old/inaccurate picture that even if you do run into the person on the street, you would never in a lifetime guess that it was them.
After a little mingling, we were treated to some eye candy in the form of some very insane fire dancing. Now if you haven’t seen this type of spectacle before, where the hell have you been? The most common place to find these sorts of acts are usually at circuses or if you’re lucky enough to have visited or lived in the beached areas of the USA, you will have been privy to some of these shows on the side-walks.
I managed to snag a bit of video footage of the fire dancers in action, and if you were one of the unfortunate few who could not make it to the launch event, here is your opportunity to see them in action.
After the breathtaking performance we were all ushered into the presentation where we were treated to a video showcasing some of the more exciting aspects of the game including the rich open world story mode, co-op playing featuring four distinctly playable characters, and a multiplayer that is not only fast-paced and action-packed, but includes various new and exciting features, never before seen in a multiplayer first person shooter before the advent of Far Cry 3.
We were treated to an interesting look at the gameplay as demonstrated by Microsoft’s PR Manager for Xbox, Graeme “cable guy” Selvan and as per usual we were treated to some very funny hijinks, including the release of what he dubbed, a “killer chicken”. Suffice to say he was taken out by a snarling dog shortly afterwards.
I must give the event organizers a huge shoutout for the lengths that they went through to put the event together. They themselves came in full island garb, dressed up in branded t-shirts, make-up applied to make them look like they went through a very rough time on the island, along with tattoo-sleeves to give them “the look”. The above mentioned fire dancer performance really added to the flair of the event, and as per usual, the food was awesome. They even decked out several stations outside the presentation hall to give the attendees a chance to try their hands at the game’s various modes and I must tell you, after several minutes of trying out both the single player and co-op modes, the game is amazing. I seriously can’t wait to (afford to) pick up a copy.
To JHBGamers I would also like to extend a thank you for securing me a booking to attend this event and to Microsoft and Ubisoft, thanks for having me. I had a really great time. No prizes for me this time around though Congrats to those who did win. I did manage to snag a few posters to adorn my flat’s walls.
Until next time!
NiteFenix a.k.a. Wooly-beard-man.