As of late EA, Electronic Arts, has been doing extremely well with a healthy supply of new IPs and successful sequels to existing franchises. Also included were new areas of interest for EA, such as the PlayStation Move, and new programs that offer incentives to buy new games as apposed to used.
The first announcement EA made in regards to software was the reboot of the past classic, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. This game originally appeared on the PC and continued to evolve into what we have today in the form of NFS: Shift. Codemasters, famed developers of Dirt, have taken the Need for Speed series back to its roots with police chases in races while zipping through brilliant landscapes. However with the advent of online interaction a new system has been created to allow for multiple players to play and race against each other online in one game. This system is called Autolog which monitors a players progress through the game as well as their online status and wanted level. As part of the online you can choose to be either cop or racer and try your best to out maneuver your opponent. As the cop you have to constantly deal damage to the racer until eventually they explode or are caught in the road blocks that get set up. A very exciting title for those that played the original Hot Pursuit and a refreshing new look at the racing genre for those that are more current gamers.
Another reboot that will be hitting store shelves this year is Medal of Honor. With the series being long since absent from current gen consoles and shooters making a powerful surge in the past years, EA has rebuilt the MoH series with a special eye for detail. The game’s excursion takes us into Afghanistan with an emphasis on breaking apart terrorist cells. EA has been working close with the US military to get the finest details just right to make the experience that much more enjoyable. With Battlefield bad Company 2 making a huge splash in the multiplayer pool, EA looks to keep up the pressure against Activision and Call of Duty with 24 player multiplayer on consoles. We watched as a row of 24 monitors was lowered from the ceiling and set in front of players who then proceeded to play a real time match. It looked something like this:
Anyone familiar with Battlefield will notice that the frantic and fast paced atmosphere is very much here in this game. A beta has been planned for June 21st but if you pre-order MoH you will be able to play by this Thursday for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Medal of Honor is set to release in October of this year.
Fight Against Used Games
With so many shooters populating the gaming scene there should be some way of distinguishing yours from the whole pool right? That’s where EA’s new “Gun Club” program comes in. Much like Project Ten Dollar, which served to reward players for buying new games as opposed to used, the Gun Club rewards those players who love to play their shooters the most. Anyone can register into the Gun Club for free on EA’s website and when they buy an EA shooter they receive special unlockable weapons. One such example is those that are Battlefield Bad Company 2 VIPs will get a free sniper rifle in Medal of Honor if they pre-order the game. These programs are the kind of thing that the gaming world needs too help keep things balanced and money in the hands of the developers.
Making Some Changes
Next up was the sequel to the stunning horror game, Dead Space. Before E3 EA teased us all with a trailer depicting the creepy crawlies from the first game, a near mental breakdown of Isaac Clark (the game’s protagonist), and a new suit for the construction man.
Isaac will be clambering about an entire space colony this time instead of one tiny ship packed to the captain’s quarters with freakish nightmares. Some new weapons were shown along with a noticeable graphic improvement that adds a nice level of detail to the face munching machinations. The religious references made in the first game were hinted at and teased as the game was played in front of us. Overall not too much was displayed in this showcase that was dramatically different from the first game but count on Visceral Games, developers of Dead Space, to put on a great horror show for you all January 25th. As an added bonus those that buy dead Space 2 on the PS3 will also get Dead Space: Extraction for the PS3 with Move compatibility at no additional cost.
EA isn’t just known for it’s great original titles, it also has a near monopoly on football games. During the EA Sports portion of the presentation, Peter Moore brought out Joe Montana from the 49er’s to show off the latest tweaks to the Madden series.
Playing football, calling plays, and getting the most out of the yards you can get is no easy task but EA Sports has taken on the task to deliver that ability to the player’s fingertips. A simplified play calling system has been designed to make it easy to understand what it is you will be doing on the field while keeping the deep play design aspect of things for those that enjoy making plays. Madden NFL 2011 will also give you play suggestions and let you know what strength the strongest part of the play you decided to call is. It may seem like the game is essentially playing for you but it all comes down to you to call the correct play and not end up 4th and long.
Another step EA is taking to separate itself from the rest of the kiddie pool is 3D. Now, that 3D that we are talking about isn’t the pop-out and nearly touch you kind of 3D but it’s a depth of field kind of 3D. This means that things actually look like they have distance between them on screen, kind of like a play on stage. Crysis 2 is the first game EA has decided to release into the folds of 3D which is a great idea considering Crysis is known for its insane graphics. Most high end computers have a hard time running the game for too long so seeing the game come to consoles and in 3D is definitely a great combination.
Earlier this year Crysis had a release date of holiday season but has been moved up to fall/autumn of this year. In the original game you had the ability to choose between 4-5 different types of power ups via your nano suit but Crysis 2 will only feature two main options in the way you get the job done, stealth or power. Many have balked at this reduction of features by saying it limits how one can tackle the game in a sandbox styled environment and have fun. However the developers have said that they mainly found people leaning toward these two methods of execution which is why they decided to bring down the options. Crysis 2 looks beautiful and in stereoscopic 3D it looks even better.
The press conference wasn’t all sequels and reboots however. Cliff Blizinski, the creative director for Gears of War, has a new game coming out in February titled Bulletstorm. This game is described as a symphony of carnage as you decimate and destroy your enemies in the most over the top ways you can image. But why go to the extra lengths and be creative when you can pull off a clean headshot? Because the game rewards you for taking the time to shove your boot into the face of the fool that just popped up in front of you.
You play as Grayson Hunt, a washed-up mercenary, who manages to find himself crashed on the planet Stygia with his partner, Ishi. They are out for revenge on the man that brought them down on this hunk of rock that’s just crawling with mutants and flash-eating gangs. To get off this rock, you have to Kill with Skill. As you find different ways to kill the natives, you earn points. The more points you rack up, the bigger the upgrades you can get. The bigger the upgrade, the cooler moves you can perform. See how this works?
So there you have it, the major announcements and releases coming from EA in the near future and some later on into the next year. From reboots to new games to incentive programs EA has quite a hand in creating a diverse and healthy selection of games this coming year.