E3 2009: Electronic Arts Impressions

Electronic Arts had some impressive offerings, highlights include:

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: If there were any doubts that this would be the biggest MMO since World of Warcraft, we can put those to rest. A surprisingly cool Jedi stage entrance by Bioware’s Ray Muzyka and LucasArts’ Darrell Rodriguez added an element of theatricality that the last few E3 shows have lacked, and the new 4 minute trailer has been looping on my laptop all day.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: Another look at an incredibly deep action/RPG with an unparalled commitment to plot influencing decision making and voiceovers. I’m still a little surprised that Bioware is working on a title with this level of blood, sex and violence, but it looks incredibly promising and we’ll have it this October.
  • Mass Effect 2: At this rate, I should change the title to Bioware Impressions! I’m still working through the enormous original game, but I’m already intrigued by the character continuation feature in the sequel. Hopefully the unsteady shooting and movement elements are ironed out, but I expect nothing less than another AAA title from this all-star team.

Aside from my favourite Canadian developer, we had:

  • Fight Night Round 4 and EA MMA: Peter Moore has been aggressively expanding into new territory since taking over EA Sports, and the fighting realm is no exception. While Fight Night Round 4 promises to be an evolutionary improvement over a proven product, the MMA announcement is more elusive. EA will be very challenged to compete in this space; they need the UFC license to field a strong entry, the exclusivity or lack thereof between Zuffa and THQ will become a big story as this moves forward. That said, I would be surprised if Moore made this announcement without existing agreements as the title is already significantly under development…I suspect that a few other promotions such as Affliction and Strike Force are already locked up.
  • Crysis 2: Couldn’t run the original on my discounted laptop, but I’ll be picking this up on a console! Expanding to dedicated gaming hardware is a great way to expand their audience.
  • Brutal Legend: We don’t have a lot of funny, self-aware titles like this anymore, which is a shame. Tim Schafer, lead us back!
  • Madden NFL 10: Online Franchise with full drafts, scheduled games and league tracking by computer or phone! I’m not a football fan, but this could become seriously addictive as it rolls out to their other sports.

EA Sports Active is in the pipeline for more titles as well, a smart move to expand on their appeal with the booming exercise market on the Wii.

I’m glad that EA remains committed to new titles (non-sequels) that kicked off in 2008. It would have been easy for them to scale back after the shaky sales of Mirror’s Edge (which I thought was underrated), but Brutal Legend along with The Saboteur and APB show a willingness to continue trying new things which will reward both the company and gamers when they find the right mix.

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