MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Gun shots blasting, rock music blaring in the background and signs of the new videogame, “Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2” was the scene for the War at Midnight release party at the Main Exchange
The first-person shooter has been one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and with the help of an energy drink manufacturing company and an American video game developer, the exchange was able to throw a party with free prizes for the Marines.
“I wanted a fun event for the Marines on base,” said Lance Lenon, the divisional sales manager of the exchange. “I’m really grateful for the Marines so I try to give back to them.”
Throughout the day, the exchange had the new game on both Play Station 3 and X-box 360 elite gaming systems set up on four TVs.
As time grew closer to the event, more patrons headed into the exchange and saw the stacks of boxes containing the new game.
Raffle tickets were available for a chance to win an X-box 360 Elite with Modern Warfare 2. Secondary prizes included a controller to a game system of their choice and free copies of the game.
Snacks were available throughout the event for everyone in the exchange. Monster parked a truck in front of the exchange and passed out free T-shirts and Monster energy drinks until 11:30 p.m.
“This is a great event for the Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Bradly Powell, a machine gunner with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “Things like this should happen more often on base.”
As the Marines lined up to get tickets to purchase the game, others signed up to compete in the PS3 and X-box tournaments. The grand prize for both tournaments was a copy of Modern Warfare 2 and a controller for the system.
Sixty four players signed up for the PS3 tournament, while 128 participated in the X-box gauntlet. The schedules for both tournaments were on giant posters showing the times and matchups.
The first two rounds of both tournaments were four free-for-all players. They battled for supremacy in a time limit of five minutes or the first to reach 10 kills. As the tournaments progressed, the time limit and the number of kills increased.
For the final rounds, the staff of the exchange moved everyone to the big screen TVs set up in front of Sights and Sounds, the electronics department, in the exchange. The finals of both tournaments were 20 minutes or first to score 25 kills. The finalists for the PS3 tournament were Pfc. Josh Burns, a student with Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School, against 11-year-old Hunter Bennett, a son of Master Sgt. Rocky Bennett.
As the battle began, the crowd took the side of Bennett and rooted him on until the end. After 15 minutes of intense fighting, Bennett snagged the final kill leaving the score at 25 to 21.
“It’s awesome that I won considering this was my first competition,” said Bennett, who also celebrated his 12th birthday at midnight. “I felt a little overwhelmed with the whole crowd cheering me on.”
The other tournament had Lance Cpl. R. J. Levasseur, a student with MCCES, compete with 14-year-old Houston Fulton, the son of Staff Sgt. Richard Fulton.
With the excitement from the PS3 final still fresh in their minds, the crowd drew closer to the players and stood behind the adjacent isles to see the best two fighters of 128 start the final battle.
The battle raged on as Levasseur took an early lead. With less than two minutes to go and the score tied at 24, both players cautiously searched the field of battle until they spotted each other. Shots rang out. Fulton was the last man standing, resulting in a roar of excitement from the crowd of bystanders.
“I was losing for a while then I just started getting kill after kill until the end,” Fulton said.
With the tournament over and the prizes handed out, the Marines lined up behind the registers to purchase their copy of Modern Warfare 2.
“There are a lot more people here than I thought would come and many outstanding players in the tournament,” said Lenon.
The Marines left the exchange with games in tow, foreshadowing several nights of blasts and gunfire to come resonating from barracks rooms.