Chicagoans are a pretty patient breed of urbanites most of the time. I mean, we're the city that puts up with absurd construction on the highway, having Michael Bay close off downtown so he can blow it up, and braving massive crowds on the Red Line train, just so we can watch the Chicago Cubs embarrass themselves time and time again.
But Capcom's Fight Club event in Chicago, which gave the public the opportunity to get hands-on time with Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate ofTwo Worlds before its release next year, really illustrated just how patient (and fanatical) Chicago fans of Capcom's classic fighting franchise can be.
Based in warehouse near the West side of Chicago, Capcom's Fight Club event drew an enormous mob of fans. While a head count of the crowd wasn't immediately available, I guessed it was at least 600 strong.
Wisely, Capcom had a collection of burly, muscular security guards on hand equipped with secret service headsets. One of them looked oddly like Brock Lesnar.
No matter how notorious Chicagoians are for being rowdy and obnoxious, it didn't seem like anyone was in a hurry to get on the wrong side of a group of men who looked like they spent their spare time cage fighting and chewing on nails.
So how long did some fans wait in line?
According to Capcom, the first gamers showed up around noon. The event didn't start until 8:00 P.M. Several of the other attendees told us that they had showed up around five or six hours in advance, just so they could get a crack at being one of the first to play Marvel vs Capcom 3. Anyone who had the misfortune of showing up at the last minute ended up having to wait in a gargantuan line that snaked around the outside lot, through the main gate and around the corner.
Estimated wait time just to get in the door if you didn't arrive early? Around one hour.
Granted, the first 100 eager gamers in line were giving a special prize, and an additional 200 went home with some bonus swag as well. We're still not certain what Capcom was giving out to their most dedicated (and insane) fans, but unless it was gold bars etched with the Marvel vs Capcom 3 logo, waiting eight hours in line on a Wednesday seems a tad extreme.
Once inside the warehouse, there were a series of booths set up around the building's perimeter that had Marvel vs Capcom 3 available to play. It looked as though only PlayStation 3's were being used at the event. Some of the consoles were equipped with arcade sticks, but some of the others only had DualShock 3 remotes.
From my understanding, the version running was the playable demo that was showcased at the Tokyo Game Show a little earlier this month. Characters like Chris Redfield, Dante, Trish, Iron Man, etc. were playable, but some of the more recently announced characters, like Spider-Man or Wesker, were not.
I was one of the first ones through the door and already a pretty long line had formed in front of all the booths. Fortunately, matches were being played eliminator-style. Winner stays, loser walks. Even then, though, it took around a half hour just to get through seven people. All the while, a massive queue was progressively forming behind me as security allowed more and more attendees to enter.
I played, won one match by randomly mashing buttons, and then promptly got my ass handed to me. With a disappointed sigh, I handed off my controller to the next person in line.
My impressions of Marvel vs Capcom 3 from my brief ass whooping? Every bit as fast, frenetic and fun as Marvel vs Capcom 2, only with better graphics and new characters.
Not really interested in hopping to the back of the line and waiting another hour so I could make a fool of myself again, I walked over to a large table in the center of the warehouse that had pizza and beverages available.
On the way there, I spotted a fellow gamer, who I had seen earlier that night, leaving. He had been one of the first ones in line, one of the faithful who had showed up eight hours prior to the official start time.
"You're leaving already?" I asked incredulously.
"Yeah," he replied. "I got a chance to play [Marvel vs Capcom 3]. That's enough for me, man."
And then he left.
Marvel vs Capcom 3 is being developed by Capcom for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is set to launch sometime in 2011.