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E3 2010: EA Press Conference

E3 2010EA

EA’s showing at this year’s E3 was entertaining throughout. Running at a steady pace and constantly introducing talent involved with the development of the games, EA looks like a totally different company than it did at last year’s show.

The conference began with a modest presentation of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. With Criterion behind the wheel, the game intends to make good on the promises set in place by EA Seattle’s 1998 effort, Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit. A vertical split-screen demonstration detailed a thrilling high speed cop vs. escapist chase sequence, promoting tight-looking gameplay and a social networking platform unique to the game called Need for Speed Autolog, which looked nifty, as well.

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EA pushed onward with Dead Space 2, which is recognizably a sequel to the first game, with it’s similarly uncluttered HUD, and tangible Gears of War-esque appeal of a main character boasting substantial weight. The action-packed demo showed off the future of survival horror as the player fought off waves of mutated midgets and gigantic creatures, only to close on a cliffhanger which will be resolved at tomorrow morning’s Sony Conference.

Afterward, there was a distracting 24-player demo of the upcoming Medal of Honor reboot’s Team Assault mode. It was initially difficult to follow any of the action, but several of the screens were magnified throughout the presentation to show off what EA is claiming to be the most authentic modern warfare FPS of all time. While it bears more in resemblance to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 than any of the more recent Medal of Honor duds, it feels like the right direction for the franchise, and I’m looking forward to seeing if the single-player EA Los Angeles-developed portion of the game is consistent with the quality of the multiplayer, which they’ve handed off to famed Battlefield studio DICE.

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If timely warfare’s not your idea of a good time, DICE is also at work on some promising DLC for Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which carries the subtitle of “Vietnam”. Alongside the announcement of the expansion into Vietnamese territory, a short trailer showed some sorry ass peaceful jungle setting getting carpet bombed. If you’re not into that, then you’re impossible to please.

Flipping their agenda from the hardcore to the casual purveyor of hardcore sporting events, Peter Moore announced a handful of interesting features for EA’s entry into the soon-to-be-competitive climate of MMA games. EA MMA is the company’s first attempt at the ultra-violent sport, and in order to garner interest, a new “EA Sports Live Broadcast” feature will showcase your fights in real time with real-life voice announcers detailing your performance as you play. In order to enter the competitive virtual fighting circuit, however, you’ll need to curry favor with a promoter. Exactly how this will work and how many people will be chosen within any given frame of time is beyond me, but it sounds like a solid concept and good incentive to pick the game up, even if you already own UFC Undisputed 2009/2010.

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Continuing to showcase the year’s upcoming EA Sports games, EA Active 2 was shown for all systems, with demonstrations from a few of the game’s developers and Joe Montana was brought on stage to explain the simplification of Madden 11’s playbooks. Without any competition on the Xbox 360 and PS3, NCAA Football 11 and NHL 11 (my two most highly anticipated sports games of 2010), were nowhere to be seen.

Following a lengthy and for the most part saddening philosophical explanation of how the characters in The Sims 3 have more free will than their human counterparts, a trailer backed by Kris Allen’s morose “Live Like We’re Dying” showed off The Sims 3, for consoles. While The Sims franchise is certainly no stranger to console platforms, it will be interesting to see how well the formula is adapted in its first release on current gen hardware beyond a few trivial appearances on portable devices.

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If you never tire of seeing New York City getting demolished in video games, Crysis 2 is the game for you. EA’s demo (running on the Xbox 360), took place in a war-torn Grand Central Station, where all hell breaks loose as the player take up some mounted weaponry. The destruction is bittersweet, as it’s cut off to inform the press that Crysis 2 is the only game coming in Holiday 2010 which works with stereoscopic 3D for “all three consoles” – the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. From Crytek’s perspective, the Nintendo Wii is apparently no longer a console. Fair enough. I suppose we’ll go with that, for now.

Following the demonstration of Crysis 2 was a lengthy trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic, showing off one of the game’s many locations. There was also some scripted talk of how wonderful the game’s Player vs. Player matches would be and how it would reignite the discussion of whether the Light or Dark side of the force is better, but honestly, after the last three movies, does anyone still care?

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Of all the games EA showed this year, BulletStorm was the only new IP they brought to the table other than EA MMA. While this is a saddening affirmation of the lack of creativity in the industry, it was also an upbeat note to round-off the presentation, showing that EA’s still looking to take occasional risks, as long as proven entities like Epic Games and People Can Fly are attached to a project. The demo was totally self-aware and visceral, like an FPS Gears of War, with elements of early-90’s shooters sprinkled in, such as the ability to use your boots as ass-kicking weapons of destruction. In spite of the game’s gritty overtones, I really dug the in-game environment (at least from what I’ve seen of them) and am ready to buy into the gimmicky kill-with-skill concept, as well.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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