E3 2011: EA Set To Throw Down The Gauntlet

By Adam Ma on May 27, 2011, 6:12PM EDT
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It's rather popular in todays industry to not only declare that you're going to be making a game, but that your game will absolutely annihilate the competition with its wide variety of features, details, and general offerings. I like to picture it as an old fashioned duel, where one man slaps another with a leather glove, or perhaps where a knight takes off his gauntlet only to toss it down for another man to pick it up and accept his challenge. So enter EA in 2011, a publisher that is not only ambitiously looking to take down the most successful FPS franchise created in recent years, but also looking to bring back older IPs and reinforce a few existing series. It will be a pretty busy year for EA and this E3 will be a good chance for the publisher to show how ambitious they really are.

We'll start with the most obvious: Battlefield 3, which has already done a fantastic job marketing itself to both existing Battlefield fans and general FPS enthusiasts alike. It's safe to say almost everyone is excited to see what the new Frostbite 2 engine is capable of doing on a multiplayer front, and considering how much has been shown regarding the game's single player campaign it may be very realistic to consider some multiplayer footage leaking out this June. On the other hand, there's still a lot of stuff that has been confirmed for BF3 that has yet to be really shown in force such as piloting fighter jets, or even a showcasing of the 64 player combat. Considering how hard Medal of Honor crashed, it would be wise for EA to start pushing the strengths of Battlefield's multiplayer experience, though I don't think anyone in particular blames DICE for the failure of the recent MoH reboot. It would certainly go a long way in building the developers already strong reputation.

Also among EA's already strong existing franchises would be the Need for Speed series, which recently added The Run to its release list. NFS: The Run is looking to be a bit of a different racing game, putting players into the defined role of 'Jack,' a man who must participate in a high-stakes race from San Francisco to New York. It's a cool concept even for those who aren't particularly interested in racing games. NFS has always had a particular appeal to those who are more interested in driving a little more aggressively, only without Mario Kart style power-ups. Obviously the backstory is really just an excuse to have players race from city to city across a wide variety of landscapes, but the concept is still very solid and something that will most likely be expounded on a bit further this upcoming E3. So long as they toss us another trailer that has a little more driving and a little less CGI, I would imagine everyone would walk away relatively happy.

The return of SSX has made some waves as of late, which is really no surprise considering there hasn't really been any snowboarding games in the past few years (or at least none worth noting). Its revival at this point has consisted of a few character model demonstrations, a CGI cutscene of a man snowboarding down a mountain and a look at a few character changes over the years. Nothing worth researching, to say the least, so assuming that EA remotely cares about promoting the franchise to existing fans and skeptics, they'll be setting some time aside to discuss where the franchise is heading from here. Although it's currently set for a 2012 release, I believe it's still reasonable to consider EA would spend some time pumping it up, particularly since a January release date means missing any potential hype at next years Expo. At the very least, an announcement that Hiro will be making a comeback in the series would make any lack of information that much more forgivable.

EA Sports fans have quite a bit to look forward to this year as FIFA 12 appears to have quite a few changes lined up in addition to launching on the 3DS. Leaked footage so far shows that the title has quite a bit lined up for it, and soccer/football fans should be absolutely pumped. Tighter controls, more realistic player actions, more realistic physics, FIFA 12 looks set to be one of the most accurate sports simulations yet. Some of the information regarding FIFA 12 has already been leaked, but a formal release would draw a lot more attention in addition to properly highlighting all of the bonuses that the series will be introducing. It's difficult to tell if the same sort of enthusiasm will be met for any information regarding Madden 12 or NCAA, but with both games set for this year and various tweaks being added for each new iteration of the franchise, there's a good chance no sports fan will be left wanting.

EA also has a few other titles that have stirred up a bit of commotion these past few months. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a title that has quite a bit of promise, being guided by some high level talent. Overseen by the lead designer of Elder Scrolls Morrowind and Oblivion Ken Rolston, and featuring a storyline written by fantasy author R.A. Salvatore and artwork handled by the famous Todd McFarlane. It's an all star cast for a brand new franchise, and though we've already seen quite a bit when it comes to the game's overall design, there's still loads to explore.

The Secret World is also on EA's list of releases for the end of the year, a highly anticipated title which, from a world design perspective, promises to be quite unique. Though we've gotten a bit of information on its world design over the years, much of what fans have had to chew on is the typical MMO fluff. Stepping away from classes and focusing a lot more on direct skill levelling, The Secret World looks like it's winding up to be a pretty solid game so far, but with so much competition out there in the world of 'social friendly RPGs,' EA will have to work hard when it comes to promoting this title if they want it to stand out from the rest of the pack. E3 is naturally the perfect time to do so, but making sure it gets enough attention in an already thick crowd of titles may prove to be challenging for the publisher.

While most would also think that a trailer for Mirrors Edge 2 would be a treat to round off EA's list of potential titles for 2012, I personally think that any word regarding Mercs Inc would make this the best E3 ever. It would be nice to finally have a proper sequel to one of the most enjoyable sandbox titles in recent years, particularly one with a greater focus on multiplayer. With a number of 2012 titles under development that have already been announced we can only hope that both games show up in some form or another. Either way, EA have quite a solid lineup for this year excluding the 'wishlist' titles that we would just love to hear more about. Lets just hope that this momentum is just as much about quality as it is quantity.

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