GamesCom 2011 EA Press Conference round up

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Taking place at a rather imposing looking warehouse, EA kicked things off with a bang right from the get go. Catchy music was being blasted directly into our heads before we even set foot inside of the building, and upon entering, we were greeted by several triggy happy Stormtroopers, alongside a shorter dark lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader.

Fortunately a Jedi is on hand to keep things civil, but I’m actually considering teaming up with Vader to beat him senseless and steal that wicked cool lightsaber that the warrior monk is brandishing. After getting some seats, EA starts the show for real.

We’re bombarded by images of upcoming EA games, but the one noticeable part about this intro video is how each game is framed in an iPod. A sign of things to come? Well EA has their lips shut about that, and instead, EA’s senior European VP Jens Uwe Itat takes the stage, thanks the fans and presents us with a brand new FIFA game, as the franchise is once again venturing onto the tarmac for some FIFA Street.

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We watch a live action montage of famous football faces practicing their skills off the pitch, which ends when FIFA Street game directors Gary Patterson and Andrew Wilson appear. The duo describe how this new iteration of the much less FIFA franchise will operate, and how it will be accesible to both long time fans and newcomers. There’ll be the usual amount of match assortments and game modes, but FIFA Street is also going to tread the social network waters by bringing back the FIFA Football club.

But thats enough Football for now, and there are plenty other games still in the EA stable. Jason De Long, Executive Producer on the latest Need For Speed game, The Run, is on stage now, ready to blast away with some new details. The Run will feature a main character, somehow badly in debt or in trouble, and his only chance of Salvation is to race a 3000km endurance course against other competitors, while dealing with all kinds of hazards along the way.

Its these hazards that will play a crucial role in the latest Need for Speed, as the demo race that we were shown featured all kinds of insane natural obstacles littering your way, from rampant boulders to vision-obscuring dust. NFS: The Run is shaping up nicely, and the new environmental feature for the game make it look only that much more tantalisingly challenging.

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And then the man of the hour appeared, Bioware General Manger Dr Ray Muzkya. Muzkya had more than one game to show us, and he kicked things off with some news over how Bioware is aiming to release more of their games as social media interpretations, with Dragon Age Legends being the first of what is soon to be many.

Next, Muzkya announced a new Warhammer 40 000 game, the online “Wrath of the heroes”. Featuring fast paced PVP combat, with team-ups allowed, this looks like an interesting title to challenge the King of online itself, World of Warcraft. Also, Warhammer will be a free title.

Finally, the Star Wars geeks get to see some action from their beloved upcoming MMO. With a team of 8 other players waiting for his signal, Muzkya presents the Operations mode for Star Wars The Old Republic. Stressing how important it is to keep gamers involved for a long time with the new MMO, Muzkya explained how the Operations mode will present gamers who have reached their level cap with special challenge missions, raids that will see them take on the worst that the galaxy has to offer.

While the team of Juggernauts, Sith Inquisitors, assassins and mercenaries make short work of the few enemies laying around the map, its the arrival of a world-destroying super robot that spells their end, as the team is no match for its relentless assault. And thus ends the short look at SWTOR, with Muzkya promising that Bioware is aiming to create the finest MMO game ever seen, setting a benchmark for future titles.

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We then get a look at Mass Effect 3, as Muzkya claims that the third game will be bigger, better and the ultimate RPG in which characters can be customised. Shepard and his crew are bsuy being under attack as usual, with liitle real evidence of the vaunted Kinect gameplay being seen in action. It looks like the same old Mass Effect that we were exposed to previosuly, with only a few cinematic flourishes thrown in, in order to differentiate the games.

With Bioware finished, we move on to the upcoming SSX game. If EA is treading the social network pool with their other games, then SSX is the game that is going to be drowned head first in the river of social.

With claims that up to 100 000 players will be available to play online, players can also earn points when online and offline, while their friends can try out there skills against a ghost version of you at the top of your game. To further sweeten the pot, EA has teamed up with Google, to provide every single surfable mountain on the planet, which players can drop into at any time. SSXis moving beyond the mere “meh, its snowboarding” label, and is trying to create the most comprehensive sim game ever.

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Gaming legend Ken Rolston takes the stage after that presentation, hyping his upcoming game Kingdom of Amalur. Its not the above average gameplay and interesting character dynamics that have the audience interested however, but Rolston trying to sell his game is an unbelievably cheesy experience, but bless his heart, as he really puts all his effort into his pitch.

Next up, Ragnar Turnquist debuts his upcoming title, The Secret World. TSW will see players becoming embroiled in a war between three secret factions, while becoming more pwoerful in the process. The hook of TSW is that there will be no leveling up involved in this MMO, with players rather specializing in over 500 magical skills instead.

Andrew Wilson is back for some more football action, this time with the latest FIFA game. FIFA 12 will feature all the usual tweaks and upgrades to its formula, with more emphasis on unique characters, serious injuries and more social aspects being fed into the franchise.

But then, the game that everyone has been waiting for, is finally here. Pat Soderlund and Karl Magnus Troeddeson appear, ready to talk about Battlefield 3. With the Battlefield series already enjoying support from both single and multiplayer fans, the duo want to emphasise that they believe that Battlefield 3 can also be king of the co-op mountain, as they demonstrate a quick level that sees them rescue an enemy defector and escort him back to base.

Its the usual Battlefield action everyone loves to see, but the visuals tend to be dissapointly old school, unlike the multiplayer demo that follows. The frames are running at a cool 60 of them every second, while jets make their long awaited return to the Battlefield universe.

And with that being done, the conference is over, leaving all of us to get ready for the next event.

Last Updated: August 17, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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