EA's press conference this year started with a bang. BioWare's Casey Hudson took the stage first to talk about Mass Effect 3. The March 6, 2012 release date was re-confirmed and Hudson went on to talk about how longtime fans would see how all their choices from the first and second game will affect the events of the third iteration. We then launched straight into a live demo, which basically consisted of a firefight with Shepard calling in firepower from the Normandy and eventually stepping into the fray himself. The first gameplay trailer, entitled "Fall of Earth," features plenty of action and story content.
Jason Delong of Black Box Studios then appeared on stage to introduce Need for Speed: The Run. The Run's premise is simple: race across the country to survive. The game has a narrative-based story mode that sees you on the run from various groups as they try to chase you from San Francisco to New York. In addition to the interesting story features, Autolog is also interwoven in the story mode to make the experience that much more immersive.
During a live demo we saw driving sections as well as on-foot sections. The Run will be the first NFS game to feature on-foot chases, and though we aren't sold on this feature yet, there are certainly some interesting possibilities for gameplay here. After some lengthy chases and a cop car swap, we ended up stuck on the train tracks. Of course, there was a train bolting straight for us. It was then that we saw a lengthy quick time event that allowed us to escape from the car right in the nick of time.
Next up was Star Wars: The Old Republic. Greg Zeschuck from Bioware talked about the unparalleled scale of the MMO. We then saw a cinematic trailer that showed us just a hint of the story behind The Old Republic. It looks like basic Star Wars fare with an epic good-versus-evil story, with some space politics thrown in for good measure. The trailer featured some amazing lightsaber battles between hundreds of Jedi and Sith, which would be cool if those actually make it to the final game. But since the trailer was all pre-rendered stuff, there's no way to know.
Next up was a new cinematic trailer for SSX. This was another one with no gameplay footage, but it helped explain the global features of the game. The game will feature every major mountain range around the world and the team behind the game used data from NASA to build the most realistic experience possible on the current console generation. The game is on track for a 2012 release.
Peter Moore, head of EA Sports was the next to talk and said a little bit more about reinventing SSX gameplay with the first truly "global" game in the franchise. He then moved on to talking about FIFA, which is the #1 franchise for EA with 42 million players.
Matt Bilby, VP of Football, then came to the stage to present FIFA 12. New features in FIFA 12 include tactical defending, a precision dribbling system, and a physics-based player impact engine. After a trailer that featured more celebrities than gameplay, the new EA Sports Football Club service was unveiled. This free service will allow you to keep track of your stats, the stats of your favorite teams, and connect and compete with online friends and rivals.
After FIFA it was time to talk about North America's favorite sports game: Madden. A B-roll trailer with a voiceover was shown. A new collision system was revealed along with Dynamic player performance, which is a feature that tracks how you react to different scenarios in-game and adjusts the AI accordingly
Next up was the announcement of The Sims Social, which is exclusive to Facebook. A trailer was shown that detailed how you can play the Sims Social with friends on Facebook and interact with them the same way you would with NPCs in The Sims 3. They even showed two "real life" characters getting a famed "woo-hoo" in the game. Exciting stuff!
38 studios' Curt Shilling then came out to discuss Reckoning, which is a new IP that features RPG gameplay and a fantastical setting. Shilling detailed how you can change the destiny of any character as well as the world of Reckoning through your gameplay choices. Then it was name-drop time, as he listed Ken Rolston as the lead developer, Todd McFarlane as lead designer, and R.A. Salvatore as head writer.
Insomniac then came out to reveal their new IP: Overstrike. This game is set in the near future and follows a team of secret agents with fringe tech devices. A "Meet the Team" trailer was shown that featured cinematics and pre-rendered content, but no gameplay. The game has a lighthearted feel though, and will certainly show off that comedic flair that Insomniac has utilized so well in the Ratchet and Clank series.
The last game we saw was Battlefield 3. DICE Studios Karl Troedsson came out to lead a live demo of one of the game's levels set in the Persian desert. This demo saw you taking control of a tank, leading airstrikes, and using a thermal camera to take down enemies. The Frostbite 2 engine looks amazing, and Battlefield 3 is sure to give the folks at Activision a run for their Call of Duty money. An open beta is scheduled for September, so it looks like eager fans won't have to wait too long to get their hands on this one.
After the beta announcement, the EA conference was over and it was time to move on. Almost all of their titles are playable on the show floor, so we'll be updating you with hands-on impressions and more very soon.
By Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*