Casting an eye down the list of games that headlined EA’s E3 media briefing pulls up very few surprises. Much of what we expected to see was given its due at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, but much of what we were hoping to hear was withheld.
Opening the event was the first extensive gameplay session of BioWare’s Mass Effect 3. As massive Reaper pods entered Earth’s atmosphere, executive producer Casey Hudson highlighted the scale of battles.
In the weeks leading up to E3, some long-standing fans of the series aired their concerns that the title was being watered down or plotting a new gameplay trajectory. While Hudson reiterated that Mass Effect 3 would include “decisions with consequences – requiring sacrifices,” the actual gameplay was heavily scripted – the player spent more time watching Shepard in small action-oriented cut-scenes than he did shooting – and featured on-rails gunning sequences.
The interesting news touched upon at the EA event and featured heavily at the Xbox event was Kinect compatibility for the Xbox 360 edition. Kinect is used in addition to a standard controller and players are able to issue voice commands to their squad. The integration of voice commands with analogue stick control it seems, at this remove, to be a happy fit. Mass Effect 3 has been dated for March 6, 2012.
Need for Speed: The Run followed. Gameplanet went hands-on with this latest title in Vancouver recently. As we’ve reported, the much vaunted “out of car” sequences are largely quick-time-event-driven. Need For Speed: The Run is build on the Frostbite 2 engine, the same designed by DICE for Battlefield 3. As such, the game at a glance looks remarkably good.
Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of EA’s presentation was Star Wars: The Old Republic – not for any issues highlighted as much as what wasn’t revealed. No new trailer, no beta announcement, no release date. BioWare have stated they’ll be making several large reveals around the game over the next few days.
FIFA 12 is the biggest sports game on the planet. Prior to unveiling this latest iteration, EA Sports CEO Peter Moore revealed some staggering statistics around the game: 42 million consumers have purchased a FIFA title across all platforms. Online, 1.3 billion games have been played. It is, as Moore points out, “the world’s game.”
Matt Bilbey, vice president and general manager on Football at EA, announced that this year’s edition would include several new features including tactical defending and a new player impact engine. The former is touted as making position just as important as the tackle itself. The player impact engine seeks to add real world physicality to the game. For example, players will now be dynamically affected by their trajectory when tripping or falling.
Also to ship with this year’s FIFA is the EA Sports Football Club. This is a live service updated weekly with challenges and events from the real world of football. Players will select a real team from around the world and along with fans of the same club, will compete against others. The service will be free.
The Sims Social seeks to bring the Sims experience to the social networking space, and marks one of EA’s most significant forays into the social space. Players will be able to create a Sim and attack it to their Facebook account before interacting with other Sims across the network.
The Sims Social was followed by two EA Partners titles. While arguably the most high profile EA Partner, Respawn (ex-Infinity Ward leads Vince Zampella and Jason West), seemingly had nothing to share this year, both Studio 38 and Insomniac showed their offerings.
As we reported in London, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a fantasy epic boasting strong creative credits. The trailer shown at E3 failed to capture why we’re still so interested in following this title’s development – something that has much to do with the difficulty of succinctly describing Amalur’s points of differentiation.
Formerly the creators of PlayStation-exclusive titles, Insomniac CEO Ted Prince unveiled their cross-platform offering: Overstrike. Featuring a motley ensemble of misfit agents hoping to bring down a “shadowy organisation”, the game exhibits Insomniac’s documented penchant for tongue-in-cheek humour.
Naturally, EA’s headline title was DICE’s Battlefield 3. DICE’s Karl Magnus Troedsson took the stage to discuss the studio’s latest.
A brief montage of multiplayer Battlefield 3 was seen for the first time, but provided the assembled press with very little information as to what might be expected come October.
Most importantly, Troedsson announced that the highly anticipated title will go into open beta in September. Additionally, the game’s release date has been moved forward from a projected release of November to October 25th.
We’ll have much more on both these titles and more from EA’s catalogue in the days ahead.