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EA shows off 10 big titles before E3

EA Sports E3 2011 Madden
Image used with permission by copyright holder

EA has gone through some rough times, but it has only bolded their trailer-making department. We just left EA’s pre-E3 show, where it showed some eye candy from nine big epic games it has in the pipeline, most of which we’ve heard about: Mass Effect 3, Need for Speed: The Run, Star Wars: The Old Republic, SSX, FIFA 12, Madden NFL 12,  Kindgoms of Amalur: The Reckoning, OverStrike, and Battlefield 3. Too epic for you? The Sims Social–a Facebook game–is also on the way.

Oddly, EA began its show by taking a poke at some of its competitors for staging overly elaborate shows, which we saw as a possible dig at Microsoft. According to EA, its pre-E3 show is all about the games. It mostly stuck to this minimalist plan, but during the Madden presentation, instead of explaining what was new about the game it spent a good 5-10 minutes putting on a stage show that introduced three popular NFL players: Ray Lewis, Peyton Hillis, and Clay Matthews. Fancy, but excessive.

Origin.com

New trailers for all nine games have been released on EA’s Origin.com, a rebranding and coalescing of the EA Store, EA Accounts, EA Download manager, and other EA services. EA describes Origin as the central hub to almost everything they plan to do online and in the social world. It will connect multiple iterations of the company’s key franchises together, allowing users to make progress on, say, an iPad Madden game and see that progress translate into something on the PC version of the game. It also gives players a place to share information and be social, much like Xbox Live.

However, unlike Activision’s recently announced Call of Duty Elite service, EA repeatedly emphasized that Origin is free to all users. Currently, only EA games are on origin, but it’s possible, due to the non-EA branding, that the publisher plans to turn it into a full fledged store and hub, much like Valve has done with Steam.

The games

Mass Effect 3

While we caught a more indepth look at Mass Effect 3 earlier today at Microsoft’s conference (it lets you use Kinect to yell out commands and initiate movements), it was fun to see it again. The third game in the Mass Effect trilogy appears to be a very Halo-like all out war, where you’re trying to take back earth from the deadly reapers. The trailer and brief demo shown appear very pretty and heavily scripted. We look forward to checking it out on the show floor. And like any good blockbuster movie we already have a multiplatform release date: March 6, 2012.

Need for Speed: The Run

This new NFS has you battling the “world’s most notorious drivers.” This time, however, you aren’t just driving away from them. In the demo shown, your car crashes and you must also run on foot from the police and whoever else wants you dead. Oddly, though the car footage shown looked like classic NFS gameplay, the on-foot segments appeared to only be interactive cutscenes, a la Resident Evil 4. The game uses the Frostbite 2 engine, which is being developed for Battlefield 3 (see below), which looks quite stunning, almost as good as you’d expect a next generation game to look.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

The failure of Star Wars Galaxies doesn’t seem to have deterred Lucasarts. Teaming with Bioware, The Old Republic looks quite epic and story driven, though we still aren’t sure how it will work as an MMORPG. The new game showed an epic lightsaber battle of with at least a hundred Jedi and Sith facing off against one another. There’s also a cowboy. We look forward to playing it in the next few days and learning more about how TOR fits in with the Star Wars universe and Knights of the Old Republic.

SSX

EA’s snowboarding franchise is making a return. Little actual gameplay was shown today, but we did learn that EA has teamed with NASA to get high resolution scans of all of the major mountain ranges on the entire planet, allowing you to race in the Himilayas, portions of Alaska, and even Montreal. The game comes out in Jan. 2012 and EA plans to unveil a new character on the SSX Facebook page before E3 ends.

FIFA 12

Though it was playing to an American crowd in Los Angeles (Football/Soccer isn’t popular in the States), EA highlighted how massively popular and critically acclaimed the FIFA series is, with FIFA 11 being used by 42 million people and earning 51 different game development awards. The new version has a few notable enhancements including tactical defending that relies more on positioning and timing, precision dribbling, and a player impact engine, which will allow players to get injured in precisely the places where they fall or bump into one another.

FIFA 12 owners will also get access to the EA Sports Football Club, a live service that connects players to the real world of football. The service will attempt to inject story lines from real world matches and connect/compete with one another. In the future, you’ll be able to play any version of FIFA and earn rewards in the cloud that will benefit your stats in every version of the game.

Madden NFL 12

The new Madden looks pretty, but EA was vague as to its exact enhancements The game will have a new collision detection system and “dynamic player performance,” but little was said about these features. We suspect that some of the new enhancements to FIFA will make their way to Madden.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kurt Schilling, founder of 38 Studios, introduced his newest game, which looks like a slightly more realistic version of World of Warcraft, with more realtime fighting combos and Fable-like magic spells and such. Or, at least, that’s what we gather from the footage shown. We’re hoping to get a chance to actually play the game soon.

The Sims Social

This looks like The Sims meets Yahoo’s flat colorful avatars. It’s a Facebook game that lets you play Sims stuff and go on fake dates with your Facebook friends. It has animated graphics. We don’t yet know the release date, but can say that the game will be free.

OverStrike

This is the new game from Insomniac games. It will be a multiplatform title, which means Xbox owners will get to enjoy as well. You play as a ragtag gang of killer agents (a mercenary, a thief, a rebel scientist, and a decorated detective) and your mission is to destroy a shadowy organization that threatens to wipe out mankind.

Battlefield 3

Though most of the conference was spent showing non-interactive footage, DICE did an extended live demonstration of Battlefield 3 and it was fantastic. The game’s scale was astounding and the lighting and particle effects from the Frostbite 2 engine looks to set this game apart. It will be interesting to see if Battlefield can take some market share back from Call of Duty this year.

Battlefield will also have a free multiplatform open beta in September.

Jeffrey Van Camp
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Deputy Editor, Jeff helps oversee editorial operations at Digital Trends. Previously, he ran the site's…
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