EA’s media briefing at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles kicked off with the announcement of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Dated for November 16th, the Criterion-developed title hopes to simultaneously bring the series back to its roots and pave the way for adoption by the so-called “connected generation.”

In it, players compete online, chasing one another as either the police or as renegade mavericks driving outrageously expensive cars. Criterion highlighted Hot Pursuit’s Autolog – a suite of features “to connect, compare and compete.”

With it, players can know when their friends have beaten their top scores, and flag their competitors as “Most Wanted.”

The game does look great, but we can’t quite distinguish how Autolog is a feature above and beyond the typical raft of social features that ship with most titles these days – watch this space.

Criterion stepped aside and EA CEO John Riccitiello introduced Visceral’s Steve Papoutsis, the executive producer of Dead Space 2.

Visceral are hoping that Isaac’s next more action-oriented adventure will put the studio’s stamp on the horror genre. Isaac’s arsenal has been diversified. We watched on as Papoutsis diced and decapitated necromorphed children and pinned larger foes to walls using a javelin gun – very robust physics. Dead Space 2 includes seamless prerendered QTE’s (quick time events), an oft disdained acronym, but one that we could get behind in this instance. Dated for January 25th, 2011.

EA wants to take back command of the FPS genre, says Riccitiello. With that lead, we watched the DICE/EALA crossover, Medal of Honor. Sean Decker, General Manager of EALA introduced us to the Afghani setting, calling the game the “most authentic modern war experience this year.” With (EA Partners) Respawn’s Jason West and Frank Zampella sitting in the front row, decidedly not-working on anything Modern Warfare-related, we’re obliged to note that won’t be a tall order for MOH.

A live 24-player console demo ensued. 24 people playing an FPS could’ve blown us away in the ‘90s, today, we simply watched on trying to elicit scant details. Medal of Honor is due on October 12, 2010, and will have a multiplayer beta on 360, PS3 and PC, starting on the 21st of June. It didn’t strike us as particularly revolutionary, but DICE have yet to really disappoint us in the online FPS space.

Further to EA’s FPS designs, the publisher announced a downloadable expansion, to BF:BC2: Vietnam. Reprising the second full release in the series is something we’ve actually been hanging out for, though the teaser trailer was especially brief. It’s due Winter (read: Summer, NZ) 2010.

Katrina Strafford, EA’s Senior Director, Online, then introduced the EA Gun Club, an online reward system. By signing up, players will receive early beta and demo access to EA titles.

EA Sports are also aggressively expanding online. EA Sports: Mixed Martial Arts was touted as having the “most intuitive fighting engine created,” – we’ll have to go hands on later this week to determine the truth of it. Coinciding with MMA was the introduction of EA Sports Live Broadcast. It’s actually pretty cool. Create a fighter, record and post your trash talk, get spotted by an EA promoter, and have your fight broadcast around the world, commentated by real presenters, and win real rewards. Also dated: October 19th.

EA Sports are also moving further into the interactive fitness space with Active 2. Frankly, the presentation had nothing on Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Evolved for Kinect. Active 2 is Kinect compatible and the presentation was noteworthy as the first time we’ve had some impression of the motion capture controller’s lag. Looked about 500ms, or half a second – although note that that figure is pure conjecture at this point.

Crysis 2 was one of two absolute highlights from the briefing. Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli described the game, set in New York, as having “the freedom of sandbox with the intensity of linear games.” The adjacent demo appeared to bear that out.

Crysis 2 will be the only stereoscopic 3D game on “all three” platforms – PS3, X360 and PC. In stereoscopic 3D, Crysis 2 blew us away. It’s due over the summer holidays.

Cliff Bleszinski followed, demonstrating Bulletstorm, a pulp, over-the-top FPS featuring campy dialogue and quasi-comic presentation. It’s hammed up, indulgent, and looks, for now, like a lot of fun.

The second highlight was BioWare’s Greg Zeschuk and LucasArts’ Mary Bihr presenting the new Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer, “Hope.”

But before the trailer rolled, they also announced that all players in SW:TOR will own their own starship – “a rite of passage, an expression of personal style, a base of operations.” Moreover, SW:TOR’s PvP was briefly revealed. Players will battle in warzones (which we assume are instanced PvP arenas). The first takes place on the planet of Alderaan – the same where the “Hope” trailer is set.

Go watch it, now.