E3 2012: EA Keeps It Rolling

Of all the various E3 conferences, I like EA’s current format the best: game, game, game. Every title may not be spectacular, but in recent years EA has streamlined their press conferences to put the emphasis on the games, showing meaty snippets of gameplay and moving on. This year’s was exactly that with very little filler, to which I give a big thumbs up.

The presser opened with Dead Space 3, whose demo focused on co-op play. It’s a trend I never thought I’d see, where every company now feels like their game needs co-op, but I’m not complaining.

This was followed by the obligatory Madden demo, with Michael Irvin on stage and a lot of talk about a new Infinity engine, but I’m so down on the Madden series after last year’s installment (just check my past posts for more on that), that I’m going to need to see some big changes before I dive in this year.

Maxis’ Lucy Bradshaw came out to show off new SimCitys for both PC and Facebook, and for some reason I feel this franchise is about to have a major resurgence. I almost think of it as the anti-Diablo – a game that has nothing to do with violence and demons but you can just as easily lose yourself in.

After a quick nod to Vince Zampella and Jason West of Respawn Entertainment (now partnered with EA), we hit the part of the presentation I felt the most uncomfortable about: “Battlefield 3 Premium.” For $50, you get all five DLC packs, including access two weeks ahead of everyone else, along with a few other special items and features. My advice to gamers: When you pay for stuff ahead of time, you’re begging to be disappointed.

There was a predictable appearance by Bioware and Star Wars: The Old Republic, which basically amounted to: “we’re adding new content, we swear, please please don’t quit.” I played a Jedi to level 50 a few months ago and quit shortly after, and I’ll have another post sometime soon on how disappointing that entire game has been.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the press conference was the demo for Medal of Honor: Warfighter, presented by producer Greg Goodrich (who I’ve always had a high opinion of since working with him on Return to Castle Wolfenstein). It seems odd for EA to be doubling down on this franchise, which seemingly had run its course, and the demo was OK but hardly spectacular, but I’m at least curious to see more.

Of course, there was the EA Sports portion of the conference, with talk of Madden for Facebook and a FIFA trailer and an announcement of a partnership with the UFC. I was surprised EA didn’t concoct something for NHL 13 to tie in with the Stanley Cup Finals, with the series next door at the Staples Center all week and Kings banners everywhere in sight. (I’m still in mourning that the Rangers aren’t in it, which would have made for an amazing E3 doubleheader.)

After a Need For Speed: Most Wanted presentation, things wrapped up with a look at Crysis 3, which was announced with a release date of February 2013. The game looks nice enough, but after being disappointed with some poor balancing in Crysis 2, it’ll be hard to get my hopes up until I can actually play it for myself.

Like Microsoft, EA had a decent enough roster of games to show off, and yet I can’t help feel most of these games are just filler, that we’ve got at least another year to wait until the real buzzworthy blockbusters for the next generation of consoles comes around. Back to Diablo 3, I guess?

Overall Grade: B.