It's finally here. As midnight struck around the world last night retailers opened their doors to usher in the arrival of what many in the industry is hoping will be the best selling game ever made – Call of Duty: Black Ops.
The official Activision launch event, held at Battersea Power Station, saw celebrities such as Sophie Ellis Bexter, Manchester City full back and former Southampton hero Wayne Bridge, Golide and Tinie Tempah gather to celebrate the game's release, with many competing live on stage.
There was also a pan-European online multiplayer tournament, in which the UK came third.
Hundreds of GAME, Gamestation and HMV stores were open at midnight with big queues also forming at numerous 24-hour supermarkets as fans desperately tried to be amongst the first to get their hands on the title..
The review embargo on the game also lifted in the early hours, revealing a number of very strong write-ups. The game currently has a Metacritic average of 90 per cent on Xbox 360.
CVG's review noted: Treyarch has served up a gorgeous, smart Call Of Duty that should to appeal to online nuts and single-player enthusiasts alike. Before Modern Warfare 2; before the cynicism, the backlash and the online rage – wasn't that what we all wanted in the first place?”
Videogamer.com added: Treyarch isn't trying to reinvent the formula which made Modern Warfare 2 the most successful video game of all time, but it has laid down solid multiplayer foundations while adding a series of necessary and intelligent tweaks – which should be music to the ears of the game's many fans.
A spectacular but silly single-player campaign rounds off the package, and while it comes without Modern Warfare 2's ambitious (but unsuccessful) attempt at carving out a political message, Black Ops offers its own thoroughly enjoyable romp through some entertaining set-pieces. I've considered myself a Call of Duty fan for many years, and I've held a deep-seeded distrust of Treyarch since Call of Duty 3. No longer.”
The game has also attracted plenty of mainstream media coverage. While the BBC's TV news coverage was minimal Black ops received extensive coverage (albeit sometimes quite negative – "Why would normal people want to play this game?!") on Radio 5Live and currently The Guardian's homepage carries a large top-of-page feature about it.