EA hosted their gamescom 2010 press event today at the Palladium in Cologne, Germany. It was a well turned out event with journalists scrambling first for access and then for the best seat in the house. As it turned out you could have sat anywhere and still heard every pin drop given the gargantuan sound rig they had pushing out the audio.
Kicking off the proceedings was none other than Dr. Jens Uwe Intat, Senior Vice President, who ran a tight ship and kept us moving at a brisk pace. Launching right into it we were handed over to Ohm Buchanan, Vice President of Marketing for the EA Play Label, who took a crack at getting us excited about The Sims 3. For the first time The Sims is coming to the console and the community features are being cranked up to support the current craze to create and share all that one does in life. Major features relate to being able to create unique personalities, control their destinies and unlock Karma powers. The release is set for the 26th of October 2010.
Striking whilst the iron was hot we experienced Sims overload with the presentation of The Sims Medieval from Rachel Bernstein, the Senior Producer on the title. It is launching in March 2011 and thankfully it looks completely different to all that has come before. Boasting tranquil settings of castles with forests, rivers and fields it is a welcome change. It is sure to be packed with good ol’ medieval humour and might even sway this journalist to take a closer gander.
Pyrotechnics explode on stage and it is none other than James and Oliver Phelps, aka the Wesley brothers from Harry Potter, who are towering over Nathan Bunny, Vice President of EA Bright Light. They do a smashing job of demonstrating the co-operative mode using the Kinect feature in Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows which ships this November. The mood is dark, action intense and lighting effects beautiful. You really get the sense that one is fighting for one’s life and it makes a nice change in setting from the previous Hogwarts locations.
Jensen retook the stage from the wizards and sincerely congratulated everyone who had helped build gamescom into the success it is today. With much pride he shared how EA were a founding sponsor of the event when it started in Leipzig and has now grown into the largest gaming show event in the world. Impressive indeed and thank you EA!
There was a thunderous commotion followed by expectant silence as Steve Papoutsis, executive producer of Dead Space 2 took us through a space walk demo. Steve goes on to share their goal was to retain the core essence of Dead Space but crank the terror up a couple of notches. Isaac Clarke gets a boost and is now better prepared with faster attacks and supped up kinesis. You can look forward to a harrowing experience on the 28th of January 2011. Europe gets a limited edition with bundled Dead Space Extraction which includes Move support!
Next up we saw a super impressive Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit which launches in Europe on the 16th of November and on the 18th of November in North America. The graphics and sounds were spot on with gameplay looking really solid. The cars crumpled when smashed and there was plenty of police action to try reign you in. A cool feature is the new autolog aspect which scans your friends achievements and challenges you to beat their records. This is a terrific feature which is sure to be a hit! If you pre-order the game you get an extra two cars and early access to a further four cars.
Without time for a breather, smack, another AAA title filled the screen. Greg Goodrich, Executive Producer took us through Medal of Honor. Highly anticipated and still on track for a release on the 15th of October. It can’t come soon enough and is sure to be very realistic given the way Tier One consultants have been used to hone the experience.
We are given a brief overview of Starwars the Old Republic from Bioware’s Dr. Ray Muzyka. The crowd goes wild with his announcement that Mass Effect 2 is coming to the PS3 in January 2011.
Jaws dropped all around the venue as each pixel of Dragon Age 2 whizzed by with a revamped art style and smoother performance. Mike Laidlaw, Lead Designer, summed it up perfectly in that you should think like a general and fight like a Spartan. Judging by the gameplay you are going to have to do exactly that to survive at all. It’s out in Europe on the 11th of March and in North America on the 8th March.
Crytek went large and pulled out all the stops to demo Crysis 2. We witnessed a live multiplayer demo with a whole panel of players wearing “I Love New York” shirts. As expected Crysis 2 is graphically beyond reproach and also brings more refinements to build on the success of the first release. Look for it in stores come 25th of March 2011 in Europe and 22 of March 2011 in North America. Kudos to Nathan Camarillo, Executive Producer at Crytek, for putting on an exciting demo and keeping the adrenaline going.
Insane chaos that only Bulletstorm can deliver and we were reeling with the urban chaos that erupted on screen. Collapsing buildings, bizzare enemies and tons of atmosphere: yes please. There is something alluring about this title and we will have to keep watching.
Losing your audience? Quick bring on the athletes to demo EA Sports Active 2! Peter Moore, President of EA Sports, broke the big news announcing David Beckham as the ambassador for EA Sports Active 2, no doubt increasing the pre-orders dramatically. Everything is wireless and you will have more data than Nasa had when landing on the moon thanks to the array of sensors, telling you what is wrong with you. It is looking comprehensive and is a solid contender in the health and wellness space.
We end on a high note with a run through of FIFA 11 by Senior Producer, David Rutter. Surprisingly it is crammed with innovation even in this, it’s eleventh iteration of the title. Taking fan feedback and ongoing internal refinement into account we are blessed with a very solid looking FIFA 11. There is so much to be excited about you are just going to have to wait for the hands-on preview to learn about this one.
Overwhelmed by all that was shared we thanked our lucky stars for the opportunity to attend the event and headed off to the next conference. Give us strength.