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EA E3 2009 Press Conference

June 1, 2009

EA E3 2009 Press Conference
By: Steven Hopper

EA lights up the Orpheum Theater with an impressive line-up of games.

Doing their part to help kick off E3 2009, EA shuffled legions of the gaming press into the Orpheum Theater in downtown LA to showcase their biggest and brightest titles of the coming years. First up was a trailer for their upcoming action game, Dante’s Inferno. The trailer had the lead character, Dante, fighting off legions of enemies. The game’s website was revealed as www.dantesinferno.com. While no gameplay footage was shown, the trailer gave us a look at the lead character as well as some of his hellish foes.

Following this, John Riccitiello (CEO of EA) came onto the stage and spoke about The Sims 3, which will get a midnight release tonight, and then revealed a trailer for the game. Riccitiello then announced that the company would be showing 12 games from 12 different creators at the press conference. He also commented on the Wii as a viable 3rd party platform, reconfirming EA’s strong support for Nintendo’s system, which lead him into the first of the 12 games, Littlest Pet Shop Friends.

Riccitiello then brought Chip Lange, General Manager from EA’s HASBRO division, to the stage to talk about the game, mentioning that there are 2 million girls playing games from the franchise. Littlest Pet Shop Friends will take players to the Country, City, and the Beach with their customized pets. Additionally, Lange revealed Littlest Pet Shop Online, which will provide a free-to-play, safe and fun place that lets girls play, create and customize their pets with friends online. They’ll be able to chat, send messages, share scrapbooks, and other activities.

Next up were four titles from the Charm Girls Club franchise, revealed by Dyan Williams, Senior Producer, that will launch this fall on Nintendo DS and Wii. One title was Charm Girls Pajama Party, which was shown with a brief minigame involving teasing hair as fast as you could.

Patrick Soderlund, Senior VP EA Games Label Europe, then hit the stage to talk a bit about Need for Speed Shift. NFS Shift will be the first title in the long-running franchise to be developed using a two-year development cycle with work from multiple studios. In the short snippet of gameplay that was shown at the event, it was revealed that driving style and personal racing preferences will help mold your driver in the game. You’ll gain levels based on whether or not you’re a fast clean driver or aggressive, and each player will get a unique persona to reflect this as they play the game.

Next, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk from BioWare showed off Dragon Age Origins, and revealed that the console versions would be available on the show floor, which would be releasing on October 20 across PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. They stated that this would be BioWare’s most ambitious game to date, and would challenge players’ concepts of wrong and right. They then revealed a new gameplay trailer, rife with plenty of action, gore, and a heavy metal soundtrack (for the trailer, that is).

Muzyka and Zeschuk stuck around to showcase some of BioWare’s other single-player RPG in development, Mass Effect 2. The gameplay trailer showcased the familiar hero from the original game, Shepard, as you lead your team on a suicide mission to save all of mankind, striking at the heart of the enemy.

Next up was the EA Sports section of the presentation, with EA Sports President Peter Moore taking the stage. He showed of the highly anticipated Fight Night Round 4, a title that will define the boxing genre the way that the original title did the current console generation with its visuals. The game will feature fluid boxing movement and a great physics engine where everything is driven dynamically, from sweat to muscles and punching impact. He also revealed a surprise stating that the game would now ship on June 25, a week early.

Moore delivered another huge surprise, announcing the development of EA Sports MMA, the publisher’s first foray into the world of mixed martial arts. While no footage or screens were shown of the game, Moore stated that it would bring EA Sports’ authenticity to one of the world’s fastest growing sports. EA Sports MMA is currently in development at EA Tiburon and will release in 2010.

The EA Sports presentation then shifted gears to talk about the publisher’s online presence, and Moore brought out Steve Chiang, Senior Vice President and Group General Manager at EA Sports. Chiang talked about the upcoming free-to-play Tiger Woods PGA Online title, as well as the newly revamped EASports.com, which allows users to share content, personalize and customize their players and characters via the website in a whole host of EA Sports games. One such title will be NCAA Football 10 via its Team Builder feature. Team Builder takes the feature from the game and allows users to utilize its features via the EA Sports website. Additionally, it was revealed that Madden NFL 10 will let players create online franchises using the site as well or an iPhone app as well.

Next up, Moore spoke about EA Sports Active, the publisher’s Wii fitness title that has sold 600,000 units since its launch last month. They showed a video of people playing the title and taking its “30-day challenge” and meeting with success. Actress Alison Sweeney then took to the stage and spoke about the positive influence that the game has had on her life. Moore then revealed that a tropical-set expansion pack for the game is currently in development to be released this holiday season.

Ending the EA Sports portion, Moore then spoke about EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis, releasing next week. EA Sports’ Thomas Singleton came out and challenged Moore to a game of tennis and soundly defeated him as Pete Sampras while Moore trash talked him as John McEnroe. This brought the real Pete Sampras to the stage, who took over and reflected on how the game compared to real tennis (“it’s easier” was his reply).

Next on the block was Pandemic’s upcoming stylish WWII stealth action game, The Saboteur. Pandemic’s Tom French was on hand to talk about the game as well as showcase a new trailer as well as some gameplay. He spoke about the game’s “Will to Fight” feature, which has color returning to the black and white environments as the community rally’s behind your cause and Nazi control dwindles. French also showed off a mission in the game, which helped emphasize its “Quiet in, Loud out” gameplay, as well as showcased some gameplay features, like the ability to wear uniforms as disguises, and hiding spots like brothels.

The EA Partners portion of the presentation then began, showcasing EA’s partnerships with huge developers like Harmonix, Grasshopper, and Valve. To kick this off, EA welcomed Tim Shaefer, President of Double Fine Productions, to show some Brutal Legend.

Shaefer spoke about the game’s vocal talent, mentioning previously revealed rock legends like Rob Halford, Lemmy from Motorhead, and Lita Ford, and also announced that the Ozzman himself, Ozzy Osbourne, would lend his voice and likeness to the game, which will release on October 13. He followed this up with a special (funny) video message from the star of the game, Jack Black.

Next up was Crytek CEO and President Cevat Yerli to talk about Crysis 2. While no footage or trailers were shown of the game, Yerli mentioned that Crysis 2 would be released simultaneously on PC, 360, and PS3, and that the latest version of their impressive Cry Engine 3 would set the benchmark for graphics and gameplay on each of the three platforms.

Dave Jones, Founder of Realtime Worlds, then took to the stage to reveal that APB, the developer’s long-awaited and highly anticipated crime based MMO, would see a release as an EA Partner game. A brief trailer was shown, which showcased the game’s character creation elements, as well as look at the game’s robust universe, which features enforcers and criminals fighting it out for control.

The final game on display at the conference was BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. BioWare’s Ray Muzyka once again returned to the stage with Darrell Rodriguez, President of LucasArts and a couple dozen Jedi and Sith warriors outfitted with robes and lightsabers. Muzyka revealed that The Old Republic would be the first fully voiced MMO ever, making it one of the largest voiceover projects ever in the videogame industry, if not other forms of media as well. Muzyka emphasized that the game would be very heavy on story elements, as it is the ever-important 4th pillar in videogame design. They then revealed the first cinematic trailer for the game, a very impressive display of Jedi-on-Sith combat.

Although quite light on surprises, EA’s press conference delivered where it counts, namely an impressive lineup of games for just about every type of gamer. Look for more from the publisher and our in-depth coverage of their games in the coming days.
 

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