E3 2011: EA Press Conference, Live

MICROSOFT SET THE BAR pretty low earlier, so we’ll see how EA does with their E3 2011 press conference today. Battlefield 3 will obviously be a big deal, but do they have any exciting new announcements? Let’s find out.

12:31: Mass Effect 3, new trailer and extended gameplay demo. It seems like Bioware is going a little heavier on the action side for ME3.

12:34: I expect EA is going to much heavier on the demos than Microsoft did, although you’d have to expect there’d be a long segment on the new Origin initiative at some point.

12:36: Mass Effect 3, March 6, 2012. Oh, and there’s the first Origin callout!

12:38: EA honcho John Riccitiello comes out and says “here at EA, we don’t need fancy stages or celebrity demos. We keep it simple.” The audience laughs. I’m not entirely sure whether he meant it as a joke.

12:40: New Need for Speed. For the first time, you’ll be able to get out and do stuff on foot. My question: why do I want to do that in a racing game?

12:45: This Need for Speed footage in no way makes me want to play this game.

12:46: Once again, if you want to get an audience of gamers excited, play the opening theme to Star Wars. It’s BioWare’s Greg Zeschuk, showing off Star Wars: The Old Republic.

12:47: That was a really weird intro from Greg. “I’m not going to talk you into playing it … play it for yourself, and live in it.”

12:49: I’ll admit, I hate trailers like this one for The Old Republic. It’s all CGI, and in no way represents what the game will actually look like. It’s expertly done, similar to what Blizzard does with their trailers, but it’s always felt misleading to me, going back to trailers for Mechwarrior 2.

12:51: Up next: a trailer for new SSX game. I know the franchise did OK, but were people really looking for a sequel?

12:52: Peter Moore’s back to talk SSX. They used NASA data to help map all sorts of mountain ranges on the planet. Great. How does this make for good gameplay?

12:55: FIFA 12. “All new tactical defending!” Boy, do you know what this audience wants. I know it’s a huge worldwide franchise, but it’s an automatic sale for soccer/football fans.

12:57: Famous soccer players, celebrities and musicians talk about how they love the game. Remember that joke you made earlier, John? We really don’t care that Lil Wayne loves FIFA.

12:59: EA announces a new Football Club service for FIFA. My Sluggo Sense tells me a lot of EA games shown today will have new community features that will tie in with Origin.

1:01: Video of Dan Lauria as Vince Lombardi (from the Broadway play) introduces the new Madden.

1:03: Ray Lewis is here, in full pads. So Is Peyton Hillis, new Madden cover boy. Oh, and here’s Clay Matthews with the Lombardi trophy (or reasonable facsimile). Matthews looks especially uncomfortable.

1:05: Madden 12: “By the fans and for the fans.” Launches August 30th, which is a little later than usual.

1:07: Riccitiello is back, talking about social features. First up: The Sims Social, which the audience actually seems excited about. Really? Sims for Facebook?

1:10: OK, here’s a curveball, no pun intended. Curt Schilling, founder of 38 Studios, talking about their first title, Reckoning. They’ve been working on this a long time, and I have friends working on it, so I’m curious to see how this is coming along.

1:12: Insomniac is back. Ted Price is on hand, showing off Overstrike.

1:15: I was hoping for something a little more cartoony from the Overstrike trailer. It’s got sort of a Losers-type vibe to it, except they’ve got all sorts of cool futuristic gadgets and tech to play with.

1:17: Bring on the Battlefield!

1:18: To start the Battlefield stuff, the rep from DICE is showing off the Frostbite 2 engine tech. Lots of buzzwords. Looks nice, tho.

1:20: OK, now we’re getting to see actual BF3 gameplay from a map set in Paris. Well, it’s not live footage, it’s a trailer showing clips of gameplay.

1:21: Why does the Battlefield 3 “theme song” in every trailer appear to be white noise switching on and off? BZZT BZZT is not a theme.

1:21: Hey, Battlefield 3 will have community features! Shocking! Although, there’s been far less mention of Origin than I would have suspected at this point.

1:22: OK, actual live gameplay now. Basically, it looks like they’re trying to do their own version of Modern Warfare, which is fine, but I can’t help but miss the old days of BF 1942, where the focus was on crazy-ass multiplayer and the game didn’t even have a single-player campaign.

1:28: I find it interesting that a lot of the BF3 footage I’ve seen so far has no music behind it. Maybe I’ve just missed it, but I actually like it. The emptyness adds a creepy, dangerous quality to the action when you hear the echo of footsteps and heavy breathing of teammates running through ruins after a shootout. Oh, no, wait, there’s music during this tank battle. Oh well.

1:30: The conference is over, and surprisingly, there’s been no big pitch for Origin. As Riccitiello put it, just 9 games from 9 big developers. No blockbuster announcements, but they got to the point and showed games instead of a lot of marketing bullshit, which is fine with me. B+