So what did we learn about the meaning of the universe from an overly-extravagant VIP videogame launch party at a swanky place in Hollywood, California? Well, nothing much really. We just wanted you to click on the article in order to exploit your endless pursuit of a deeper understanding of life. Sorry about that — but it was pretty damn effective. Now, if you want to read about our unintentional voyage into the land of the Hollywood elite along with some first impressions of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, then stay for a while.
By some unexplained reason the PR department at Ubisoft thought it would be appropriate to invite the MiddleEasy crew to their Assassin’s Creed IV launch party held last night at the Greystone Manor in West Hollywood, California. We were promised hands-on play with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but when we noticed that Frodo Baggins was hosting the event, we knew we had to stop playing Grand Theft Auto Online for a few hours to attend the late-night shindig.
Originally we only had two slots for the event: myself and my bud Dave, who is a gargantuan fan of the AC franchise. In an email before the event I told them he was an ‘editor’ on MiddleEasy and fortunately they believed it. On the last day I realized that MiddleEasy’s Jason Nawara should come to the event since, you know, he actually covers gaming for the site. After some brief communication, the PR people finally caved in and let Jason attend, under the understanding that he’s ‘MiddleEasy’s in-house fashion photographer.’ Yeah, it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
When we arrived at the Greystone Manor the door staff forced us to wait outside with the rest of the groupie schlubs in line until I told them that we actually had a place on the red carpet and they should really check their list. After I dropped a couple of names, MiddleEasy went from ‘sorry we can’t find you on the list’ to ‘our mistake, here are your press passes and placement on the carpet.’ We went from virtual nobodies to having the first position for photographers on the red carpet. I believe Notorious BIG would call that pulling a ‘raw power move.’
So there we were, prime position with a section of the red carpet that actually said ‘MiddleEasy,’ celebrities started to slowly walk in — and we had no idea who they were. The only TV we generally watch is if some guy is locked in the cage with another guy and is assigned the task of pummeling each other. We’re not that privy to all the new CW teen dramas or the elaborate list of romantic comedies that came out this year. Some Aussie boy band arrived and they were swamped in camera flashes and screams. We were there, just looking at one of them while drawing comparisons as to how he sort of looks like a young Nick Diaz if you squint your eyes. It was interesting to see the ‘celebrities’ that walked the red carpet only to be virtually ignored by Hollywood. If you listen closely you can almost hear the moment their ego shatters as they wildly look around in hopes that someone, anyone, will stop them for an interview.
Eventually Elijah Wood arrived on the red carpet and Jason Nawara realized that it was exactly twenty years (nearly to the day) since ‘The Good Son‘ was released in theaters which starred Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin. We developed all of these fantastic questions to ask Wood regarding that film — we even built an entire communication model that included cheesy Home Alone references. As the moment approached, the gravity of the entire situation started to get to us. We’ve waited our entire lives to ask this guy one question, and suddenly every ounce of confidence we had evaporated from our bodies. In short, no one had the balls to stick a microphone in Elijah Wood’s face and ask him about a film he did twenty years ago. I’m a firm believer in if you manifested the idea, you must go through with it — so I’m putting all blame on @JasonNawara. He tried to pawn off the question on me since I’m the one that got him into the event, and I tried to hand the idea to Dave since he was technically the ‘editor’ of MiddleEasy. We all made our stupid little excuses — and after taking absolutely no photos and not getting a single interview, our work was done.
It was time to leave the red carpet and head into the exclusive Greystone Manor for the party.
Now I’m sure most of you abide by the same social principle when you enter a place that you know you shouldn’t even be in. Within the first five steps after you navigate through the labyrinth of bouncers and door men, you must: 1.) Locate the bar and 2.) Find the path with the least resistance to that bar.
That’s just basic social etiquette.
We’re not necessarily here to ‘mix and mingle.’ If we lived for ten thousand years the title ‘socialite’ would never be attached to our names. We knew this Assassin’s Creed IV launch party had an open bar, but as with all open bars you don’t necessarily know until you order a drink without any cash transaction. Assassin’s Creed IV boasted four drinks in this flyer that was placed at each corner of the bar:
- ‘The Black Flag’ – Which was some rum concoction, probably the tastiest of the four.
- ‘Seven Seas Captain’ – Absolutely horrendous. Tequila mixed with something equally horrible. My soul was devastated that I had to finish it. Bad move, Ubisoft.
- ‘Pirate’s Sail’ – I was astral traveling by the time I ordered this drink. I remember that it had a similar taste to the ‘The Black Flag’ drink.
- ‘Scurvy’s Revenge’ – Pretty bizarre to order anything drinkable with the word ‘scurvy’ in it, let alone ‘Scurvy’s Revenge.’ However this was the quintessential fruity drink, filled with sugar and other artery clogging elements. Pretty tasty though.
After we had our drinks in hand, Dave noticed they were doing hands-on demos of the game on the opposite side of the bar, so we slowly made our way over there. An interesting thing happens when you move through a crowd of failed Hollywood actors (the successful ones were quarantined off in the VIP section) and socialite chicks that base their entire existence on crashing launch parties: You unintentionally eavesdrop on a lot of conversations that you never thought you would hear in reality. One would think a person that says ‘Oh, I’m dating this guy that got a part on American Horror Story so I’m considered a B celebrity now’ would only reside in some mildly interesting Saturday Night Live skit — but that’s really something I overheard at the party. There were themes to the vapid comments from the Hollywood crowd at the AC IV launch party. Most of them were along the lines of:
- I’m doing [insert thing here] so this is why I’m more important than you.
- I can promise you a role in [insert film/tv show here], but you have to go to dinner with me.
- I hope this guy/girl celebrity remembers me from [insert other Hollywood party here] so I can sit at his/her VIP table.
- I closed a deal for [insert amount of money here].
That’s it guys — that was the archetype of every single vocal communication inside the Greystone Manor that night. Calling conversations predictable was a tremendous understatement.
After getting intercepted by a few complimentary drinks at the bar, we finally made it to the hands-on demo of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag which was running on a Playstation 4. The game was amazing — but at this point in the night, everything was amazing. We awed over the dynamic lighting as the sunlight pierced through waves on the high sea and our jaws dropped when the cannon smoke from the pirate ships filled the screen and the 60 frames-per-second rate held steady.
From what Dave told me earlier in the night, the makers of Assassin’s Creed IV are the same group of developers that created Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed Revelations, arguably the two greatest installments in the franchise. Judging by the gameplay we saw at the launch party, Black Flag may trump them all — especially on the next-gen consoles. As we were watching the game, we unanimously agreed that the Playstation 4 is indeed an upgrade from the Playstation 3, but only in minor elements like increased frame rate, remnant particles, and dynamic lighting. However these small details are the microscopic building blocks that will break the threshold of sheer realism for the video game industry. We witnessed it with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but we couldn’t stop talking about what we’ll see 7-8 years from now after developers create even more innovative techniques to give us what we love.
I’m still playing Assassin’s Creed II (mainly because of the free offer for Xbox Live Gold members), but after getting my hands on the game, I can assure you that AC IV is a must buy, only if you love killing other human beings in the most seductive way possible. Perhaps it was the next-gen console powering the game, but everything just flowed. From taking down two soldiers by simultaneously stabbing them in the neck to hopping aboard your pirate ship to blow up other pirate ships and plunder their loot. It just seemed as if I was watching something unfold as opposed to methodically making it happen with button combinations.
Dave took a smoke break and just happened to stand right next to Elijah Wood as he was in mid-conversation about the wonders of Spain. Apparently he went to the country a few weeks before the party and he made it clear to all of his buds surrounding him that Spain is indeed a wonderful place to visit — and that he’s also filming some suspense/horror movie.
Ah, the power of eavesdropping.
After gawking over the game for what seemed like an hour, it was time to leave the launch party (mostly because Dave was our driver and he’s allergic to being out past 12:00 am). When we were waiting for the valet, Dave pointed out that Hiero from the NBC show ‘Heroes.’ was standing around, waiting to get into the launch party. The amount of pre-banter article nonsense on MiddleEasy I dedicate to that show is immeasurable, so I knew I had to at least make sure that he knew I existed. I approached his vicinity and repeatedly said ‘Hiero, Hiero!’ getting louder as he seemed to ignore me. Eventually he looked in my direction as I basically screamed ‘Hiero!’ to his face and with a frigid look he said ‘That’s not my name.’
Keep in mind I was the only person that recognized this guy, and judging from his IMDB page, that’s really the only show that he’s known for. After I called him Hiero, he really didn’t say anything to me so I had to stroke his ego and tell him that ‘I really liked him in Heroes’ (which is actually true). He asked what my name was, we shook hands — you know, typical Hollywood nonsense. Apparently this guy loves to be told how much he’s loved. If only I had the wit to tell him the incremental amount Heroes fell off after the second season of the show then I could have ended my night with a well-earned SEG.
In the end I have to give props to Ubisoft and Assassin’s Creed IV for throwing such a fantastic launch party. The game was beautiful, and so was every vapid Hollywood groupie there. We also want to give a shout-out to Milan Blagojevic from Full Picture for the hook up. Don’t let this snarky write up fool you, we actually enjoyed the event and hope to get invited to more so we can make even more unnecessary and elaborate observations for MiddleEasy.