EA E3 2009 Conference Round-up

Following on from Microsoft’s big entrance, EA show the goods. There’s a lot of ground to cover from one of the biggest publishers in the business including internal developments such as the EA Sports titles and many external projects. EA have once again shown that their ‘evil overlord’ mantle is far behind them as they show off some of the most promising titles in the industry. Here’s a rundown of what went on at EA’s E3 conference.

Dante’s Inferno: The demonstration begins by showing a cinematic of the game. This still looks God of War-ish, which isn’t a bad thing. The music is similar to God of War too. If you’ve seen the God of War trailers, you’ll know what to expect here.


The Sims 3: More working out, getting married, getting old, having children. But in a town, with more detailed models and things to do, and the green icon is very shiny.

Littlest Pet Shop: A girly cartoony online browser game where you make pets and play with them. Very, very feminine. I have to look away to save myself. Expect this fall 2009.

Charm Girls Club: Four girls come on stage. The presenters list a lot of girly games. ‘Spin hair teasing’ is a mini game from this series. Over-smiley girls use wiimote to play with virtual hair. This is a series of different themed packs, each with a series of mini-games related to the theme. I try and look back at the screen. The next game helps.

Need for Speed Shift: EA are working with multiple developers, clearly trying to battle with Microsoft’s just announced ‘Forza III’. They mention something called a ‘Driver profile’, where you are classed as a ‘type’ of driver, depending on how you play. The rewards fall under the type of driver category. The game isn’t not so much about winning, but about how you play to get there. The fast driving and first-person-cockpit-view feels intense. Nice crashes too. The team offer a chance for people to win a real car at the EA booth.

Dragon Age Origins: BioWare take the stage. This is the “Darkest and most violent game yet” from BioWare. You will be challenged throughout the game with moral decisions. This is coming to PS3, XBox 360 and PC. This is head-removing stuff, it’s very gory, with interludes of sex. Nice. Plus dragons. But not dragon sex, stop thinking about it. Expect it October 20th.

Mass Effect 2: “You[r character] will not be expected to survive [this storyline]”. The team are working on creating “an emotionally charged story”. The first game “won over 90 awards”, which explains their reasoning to continue the series. Although they instead say that they want to build on the ‘legacy’ that they’ve created on XBox 360 and PC. A cinematic is shown, along with gameplay footage. The cinematic style is Metal Gear-worthy. It looks slightly better than the last graphically, and generally very cinematic and tense. If you liked the first game, you’ll love this. Expect it Fall 2009.

EA Sports: Not a game, but the whole introduction of the part of EA is hyped with a live-action advertisement for EA Sports with the big “It’s in the game!” voice. It shows normal people in sport situations. It’s interesting to see that there’s a big PS3 at the end of the ad. Peter Moore steps up.

Fight Night Round 4: A live demo is shown with sweaty men trying to get their hands close to their other’s face. It’s boxing, ok? Commentary over the top boasts that the fourth game runs at 60 fps (frames per second), while the third ran at 30. The graphics here are looking immense. The camera wobbles when a punch is landed to create a bigger cinematic impact. The detail of the models is very high. They comment on how punches can blast through blocks (as in blocking the opponent), as all models interact with real-time physics. Depending on the direction and force of a hit, it can change the stance of the opponent. Blood drops and beads of sweat are all processed with the physics engine. This is coming to PS3 and XBox 360. Expect this on June 25th, a week earlier than the original ETA.

EA Sports MMA: This is a new title franchise announced. The crowd cheer in response after explaining it’s going to be a martial arts experience.  “Bringing EA Sports authenticity to fastest growing sports”. Nothing more is said. So just a logo then. What’s to say that this wasn’t an idea they mocked up in the morning? Anyway,  expect this in 2010. So a quite while away then.

EASports.com: Steve Chiang steps up to talk about the web-based games launched today to enhance in-game features such as stats. ‘Team Builder’ is mentioned as one title. Customisations for newly developed EA Sports games may be done online. Users can customise the stadium, including field logos, and customise team clothing. Updates online will go straight to console, with a click or two. This will work with ‘NCCA Football 10’. So it seems it may be limited to how many games it covers at first.

Madden NFL 10 Online franchise: Loads of user-gen stuff. “Login from work, starbucks, steal friend’s wifi”. “Just a click away”. This is all about updating parts of your game online and connecting with others. There’s a lot of ‘we listened to what you wanted’ talk. Whether this is true or not needs to be looked into.

EA Sports Active: EA are boasting over 20 home exercises. Lots of actors on the uber-sized screen say that it works in 30 days, one woman apparently losing 25 pounds. “Miss size 4” Allison Sweeny steps up. She details as a mum (…let’s not go there…), how great it is, and she doesn’t need a babysitter because she no longer uses the gym. EA have sold over 600,000 copies of the game in the first 2 weeks, making it the most sucesful title in their history. They announce that the first expansion pack is already in production, for release this Summer.

EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis: This is apparently the most requested Wii game to be developed. It will work with new Wii motion plus. Yey. Peter Moore talks about how all EA Sports creators are bald. Thomas Singleton, the game’s producer, plays the game badly with Moore after looking miffed at his joke. Pete Sampras takes over. “Let me explain how to play tennis”. The game will allow you to played at a virtual Wimbledon, with the choice of 23 characters to choose from. The graphics aren’t impressive, and it’s nothing really new after the ‘WiiSports’ game that most people will have got free with their Wii console.

The Saboteur: Tom French, lead designer of the game takes to the stage. The same trailer we’ve already seen is shown, with blurred busty women. Then we get to see some live gameplay. This is a ‘Sin City’-style game, with the majority of the game being black and white, and small patches of colour on various parts of the scenery. The player will be in an open-world sandbox Nazi-occupied Paris. Within seconds, the character had moved from the pavement to a building top using a climb system very similar to that of Sony’s ‘inFamous’. The lead character can steal others’ clothes, like ‘Hitman’. You can hide from followers by running into a sex shop. Great stuff. This is Hitman meets inFamous meets Grand Theft Auto in Paris, and yes “you can climb the Eiffel Tower”. Expect this in Summer 2009.

Brutal Legends: Tim Schaefer takes to the stage. He talks about the characters in the game and their real-life singers. Ozzy Osbourne and Jack Black are to name a few. Jack Black has over 126 lines of dialogue. Phew. We get to see gameplay footage. The graphics are comic-like, and not very detailed, but the setting looks very open-world. Jack Black does a real-life sketch including drilling a hole in his head. If his earlier games are anything to go by this will be fantastic. Trust us on this one, regardles of how annoying you find Jack Black. Expect this on ‘Rocktober’ 13th.

Crysis 2: Cevat Yerli, Senior President of Crytek pops his head up to tell us what we already know. The team are working with EA on Crysis 2. They hope that the Cry Engine 3 will become the “benchmark for [this] console generation”. This is coming to the PS3, 360 and PC. That’s it. They walk off. Apparently they’ll tell us something about it later in the year.

APB: All Points Bulletin: Dave Jones, founder creator of Realtime Worlds takes the stage. A cinematic is shown of an online city. 100 players will be in the city at any one time. The aim of the game is to get money by any means. Some go criminal, some live on what criminals do for them. It’s all shown very much as a gang-vs-gang thing. “Every player is unique”. Every character will have their own unique looks and vehicles. This is like a Grand Theft Auto MMO. It all receives a hearty clap, and looks very promising, but I’ll be waiting until I can see some in-game images.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: The studio goes black. Everyone is confused. A fanfare plays for way too long, and eventually lots of old men walk in wearing tacky Star Wars costumes. Lucas Arts are making another Star Wars game. The stage is full of a group of people with lightsabers, those dressed as Jedis are the game’s creators. This new game will be set “thousands of years before Darth Vader”. It’s a “Story-driven MMO”. They boast that it’s the first fully-voiced MMO, so every character you meet will have their own unique voice. This makes it the “largest voice-over project in the history of gaming”, with thousands of speaking roles. You will play the game as a class type, which will have its own unique experience from other classes. Sounds like and RPG. “Bringing a fourth pillar of story.” The first ever cinematic trailer is shown which receives a massive cheer. It looks like you might be able to chose whether to be good or bad, with the trailer showing hundreds of the ‘dark side’ battle with hundreds on the good side. Expect lots of colourful light-sabers and force pushing.

So there you have it. We know that EA’s a big publisher and all, but thats a lot of content to get through. More, even, than Microsoft’s show. It seems that EA are continuing to widen their reach into all the pockets of gaming that have emerged over the past few years whilst keeping one eye on the future with cross platform connectivity and user customisation. Whilst none of it blows us away it’s a good example of why the Grand Daddy of publishing is still raking in the pennies.