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Published on June 6th, 2011 | by Ken Yarbrough, Editor

E3 2011: EA’s Press Conference Highlights

As you may have noticed, I was unable to live blog from the event today. For some reason, everyone around me had internet access, but I didn’t. Not to worry though, I made sure to get tons of information to relay here now.

First up, Mass Effect 3

If you were watching the Microsoft Conference earlier then you already know about the integration with Kinect controls. EA did not show any of this integration whatsoever, choosing instead to focus on the actual gameplay demo.

First off, let me just say, the game looks stunning. It was quickly apparent that Bioware has learned their game engine. The gameplay demo shows off plenty of gunplay, and is very action-oriented. Soon after starting, Shepard mounts a giant turret gun and begins being chased by a Reaper, the series’ evil race of super-machines.

This on-rail section only lasts a few moments, as Shepard appears to destroy the ensuing Reaper, only to have it resurface, as if nothing had happened at all. At this point, one of the members of Bioware came on stage to talk about the game briefly, and to reveal it’s release date: 3-6-12. Not too shabby.

After the ME3 demo, Riccitello took the stage to talk a little about “Origin“. He of course took the time to take a jab or two at Activision, which was expected. All in all, Origin isn’t anything new. It’s basically just a different version of Steam. Not really much to talk about here.

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Up next was Need for Speed: The Run. There was a lot of focus on Autolog. For those of you who don’t know, Autolog was introduced in Hot Pursuit, and is a very detailed stat-tracking engine. It basically records everything you do, and allows you to attempt challenges, compare high scores against your friends and the like. In Need for Speed: The Run, it does all that-and more. Every single thing you do in NFS: TR is logged by Autolog.

They also revealed new “on-foot” segments. However, despite what is insinuated, these segments are no more than cutscenes filled with quick-time events. That said, they look very original, and look to add quite an interesting level to the standard racing formula.

During the live demo, we watched as the player began in a sports car, racing “The Run”–which is described as a series of races between San Francisco and New York–eventually having to get out of his car to elude police. This evasion began in a series of quick-time events, ending with him stealing the aforementioned police car to elude a helicopter. The entire sequence was filled action and tons of suspense. Definitely a game to keep your eyes on if you are a racing enthusiast.

Then came along Star Wars: The Old Republic. Unfortunately, I can’t really comment too much on it, as there was no actual gameplay. I will say that the trailer did look exciting though, with tons of Sith/Jedi battles, and one sequence that involved a Jedi wielding two Darth Maul style sabers.

Ah, SSX. While I would love to give this a glowing recommendation…I’m not sure I can. The game looks like a lot of fun, though EA didn’t show any gameplay. Even more disconcerting? They decided that this game was the one they were going to make a spectacle of. They began by turning on ten or so fog machines, as the video panned into the top of a mountain range. Unfortunately, from most of the seats in the house, the fog actually blocked vision, so it didn’t help the “immersion” but rather hindered my ability, as well as a lot of others’, to see.

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Worse than that? The bass. I’m all for plenty of loud and exciting sound effects and music. However, the bass was too loud during this video. At one point, looking around the room, it was easy to observe the other 10-15 people staring at the ceiling…likely in fear of it caving in under the pressure of the sound, just the same. While the video was exciting, the fact that there was no gameplay, coupled with reduced vision, and a supreme loss of hearing made this one a bad video.

With that being said, they did reveal a few nuggets of info to chew on. The mountains have been recreated using NASA photography, which should add to the realism. There are also three modes to the game: Race It, Trick It, and Survive It. While the first two seem pretty self-explanatory, the third wasn’t really touched on. They also revealed that the game would be launching in January 2012.

After the debacle that was SSX, EA launched into it’s sports lineup.

Starting with FIFA, they began by touting how successful the franchise has been, with a very strange video that included Lil’ Wayne talking about how great FIFA is. Sorry, EA, but when I think soccer, Lil’ Wayne is not the first person to come to mind.

Anyway, this was followed up by a short video showing off some of the game’s new mechanics, while also confirming that the game was pre-alpha. Let me tell you, for pre-alpha, this game looks amazing.

Graphically, it could release right now and no one would bat an eye. As for the new mechanic…honestly, I don’t think I’m qualified to report on it. I know absolutely nothing about soccer. Zip. Zilch. Nada. As far as I could muster, though-the new mechanic involves adding physicality to the game. Like hockey. Sweet.

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EA then began to talk about the new social networking tool that they are bringing to FIFA. Now, I gotta say, this thing looks pretty sweet. It seemed to be a lot like EA’s own Battlelog for Battlefield 3, except for FIFA. It even showed updates going straight to your Facebook account, and they talked about having real-world events affect challenges and the like in the game itself. Seems pretty sick to me. Oh…and it’ll be free…just sayin’ *COUGH ACTIVISION COUGH*

They then brought out Madden, as expected and paraded a few NFL athletes around, including cover athlete Peyton Hillis. The game looks as you would expect, but they did say that they modeled the game after the three athletes they brought out, so it seems that they are taking an even more realistic approach to their hyper-realistic football titles.

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Next they introduced…wait for it…The Sims Social. It’s a Facebook version of the Sims. All I can say, is that it looks absolutely terrible. At least the way they presented it. However, it also looks like it will appeal to a ridiculous number of people who play Facebook games all day. Also, they made fun of Farmville, so that was awesome.

Finally, they brought out Insomniac, who finally revealed their multiplatform title, Overstrike. While no gameplay was shown, there were a few tidbits one could gather about the gameplay.

It appears that Insomniac is using everything they learned about humor from Ratchet and Clank, and everything they learned about gunplay from Resistance. It reminded me of a campaign-based Team Fortress 2 to be honest with you. Very tongue-in-cheek humor, with some pretty cool gameplay concepts. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much to say about this one, as they didn’t show much, but I’ll definitely be keeping a watch on it.

What’s that? I didn’t mention Battlefield 3? That’s because it really does warrant it’s own news post. Enjoy these screens to whet your whistle.

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I'm the guy everyone loves to hate. The resident Devil's Advocate for GAMINGtruth, my words are harsh, my message serious. The gaming industry needs some big changes to keep from destroying itself.

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