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.
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.
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.