E3: Electronic Arts decompression

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The next press conference was EA’s at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles where we didn’t have to deal with waiting for our car as much as we did with the crazy line queue massing outside. And then there was the WW2 bunker in which we had to park our car.

So here I go with a brain dump of all of the things that EA had shown off for the crowd after the jump. I’ll be the one starting things off this time.

Once we got into the lobby and registered with EA, they also gave us a nice amount of press material so that we could regale you with as many images about their games alongside our own impressions. Pictures like this:

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Dante’s Inferno started things off with an expanded trailer giving everyone a tease as to where the game was going by leading in with a little on why Dante is traveling through Hell while dishing out plenty of fury in the process. It wasn’t too dissimilar to the what had been previously released on the web prior to the conference so I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to see some gameplay, or at least a demo of some kind, but there wasn’t anything available yet.

Following Dante’s was a teaser for Sims 3 which promise plenty of changes that are sure to keep loved ones at the PC for hours on end. After that came EA’s presentation for the casual and girl gamer crowd which had the hardcore fans at the conference grit and gnash their teeth in quiet pain from the exposure of so much cute.

The Littlest Pet Shop Online is being developed with Hasbro who will actually be providing toys that can then be used within the game itself. A host of community options are being created to allow kids to safely interact within a virtual paradise provided for their virtual pets. Another game, the Charm Girls Club, is geared towards the girl crowd with a lot of Barbie-like activities to keep them glued to the Wii, preventing you from playing Madden 10.

Thing is, this is a hugely successful segment from a marketing perspective with plenty of moneyhats to be made from catering to it, and EA has amply demonstrated that they are forging ahead with titles to stake their claim with. As cute as they might be, the underlying message I took from this part of the presentation was “EA is expanding everywhere they see an opportunity to”.

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The Need for Speed Shift also made its trailer debut and EA has upped the ante within that space with the introduction of the “Driver Profile Engine” which, from what I was able to gather, actually shapes the game into learning just how the player drives in order to provide a better challenge. Depending on how you drive, you can be categorized as an aggressive driver, a precision master, or someone who is middle of the road by focusing on simply racing. It wasn’t too clear just how this would impact the entire game with any finer details, but it sounded like it could offer a different twist to the racing formula that NFS fans have been used to playing with.

Bioware was up next with a trailer for Dragon Age, but no game play to show for it at the conference outside of the videos that had already been released on the web which was something of a let down. I’m still looking forward to this RPG, but I’m not as excited as I am for Mass Effect 2 whose own trailer-only presentation had followed afterwards. I’m sure more of both of these titles will be shown on the floor at E3, so I’m keeping my hopes up, but I can’t help but feel that I want to head back into space to save the galaxy once again with Shepherd and company.

Peter Moore came out next and re-energized the crowd by taking command of the stage with several announcements in the sports space for EA. The biggest take away for his part of the conference was the hilarious trailer for Madden 10 which promises to deliver everything but the kitchen sink with a raft of online options. With the newest Madden, players will be able to run a franchise of their own online with their own colors and logos, trade players, and have them compete against friends. Not only can you manage your franchise on the console, but you’ll be able to do it from your PC or even from your iPhone. You won’t be able to escape it even if you wanted to.

WW2 espionage action thriller from Pandemic, The Saboteur, was shown off next with the “uncensored” version of the video that had hit Gametrailers prior to E3 and I can’t wait to play the finished game. This time, some game play was demonstrated in which the saboteur, working in Paris, sneaks into an enemy fuel depot by gliding along a cable over the neighboring street into the lot, sneaking up and killing a Nazi officer before stealing his clothes, and then blowing up the depot itself which brought every goosestepping soldier out from the shadows. Stealing a German Sturmwagen to escape, he drives to safety in the Red Light district where he ducks into a brothel and comes out later, finishing a smoke and adjusting his pants. I want this game.

Brutal Legend was also shown off with Tim Schafer talking about the game and showing off a new teaser for the heavy metal adventure starring Jack Black. Crysis 2 was also announced by Crytek’s Cevat Yerli, running on the CryEngine 3, which would have its debut on consoles as well as the PC. Hopefully for PC users, that won’t mean upgrading to another bleeding edge machine. Realtime Worlds, the former developers of Crackdown on the Xbox 360, also came out to show off their online GTA-like MMO, APB.

But topping it all off was a huge treat for Star Wars fans with the first official trailer for Bioware and EA’s epic MMORPG, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The trailer, humming with John Williams’ score, set the tone for the balance of power governing the galaxy between Sith and Jedi thousands of years before Vader was born. And the Sith are winning. The trailer was great stuff, it got the crowd excited, and that ended the conference for me.