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Electronic Arts Pre-E3 2012 Media Briefing Summary

by Erik "NekoIncardine" Ottosen on June 4, 2012 @ 3:30 p.m. PDT

During EA's Pre-E3 2012 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for Dead Space 3, Madden, SimCity, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, FIFA, MMA/UFC, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and Crysis 3.

EA's presser was run at the Orpheum Theatre — an austere, old-school-style building with a sound system that seems oddly out of place. John Ricitello, CEO of EA, introduced the 10 developers and 10 games as being "more like Sundance," highlighting EA's belief in a cross-platform, integrated experience.

The show began with Dead Space 3. With a new planet, new necromorphs, and the introduction of drop-in, drop-out co-op, it's immediately reminiscent of Resident Evil 5 in all the right ways. Then, you take a quick walk outside to a Necromorph that's big enough to breathe in people. After a few desperate attempts, =both players were pulled in. The resulting journey through a mass of Necromorph flesh was detailed to the point of being disturbing, but not quite sickening.

Then, on the opposite end of the rating scale, came Madden NFL 13 to emphasize the new Infinite Engine for animations. This means that the beginning of a tackle animation is no longer the end of the play; you can struggle and fight for that last yard or even break free to keep moving. The other big theme is establishing your "Legacy" in the career mode. It's a full MMO-esque experience with stat development and the ability to play in 32-player leagues as a player or coach. You can even play as John Madden. As you play, a newsfeed based on your exploits is generated, including a simulated Twitter. You can manage your team on PC, phone or tablet; it's similar to the new Madden NFL 13 Social for Facebook, which lets you play on Facebook or a smartphone.

Next came Maxis studio with two new SimCity releases. SimCity Social for Facebook, besides making several knocks at Farmville, showed little more than the requisites: The gameplay is there, the secrets are around, and the social integration appears pretty tight.

Then came the actual SimCity, with the new GlassBox simulation engine to provide detailed simulation with data visualization, city specialization, and multiplayer features. You can either play in a group to build multiple cities in a region or run a whole region solo. At all times, your actions integrate with and influence the actions of all other players.

A quick shoutout to the chairs of Respawn Entertainment, and it was on to Battlefield 3's Premium service, which is pretty much a copy of Activision's Call of Duty ELITE, including all five expansion packs: the existing Back to Karkand, the available-now-on-PS3 Close Quarters, the 10 new vehicles in Armored Kill, and more coming this year. The Premium features also provide new weapons, camos, etc. It definitely shows that EA isn't abandoning the game anytime soon.

Danger Close came in with Medal of Honor: Warfighter, which is based on real-world events. The demo mission showed a Somali pirate enclave as the opponents. The American Tier 1 Operative is not the sole focus anymore, with 12 Tier 1 units from 10 nations. As a player goes in, the new Frostbite Engine features surprisingly detailed water physics. Knockdowns even warp audio realistically if you fall underwater. The gameplay is familiar, but with stronger damage-based environmental warping. Slow-mo is applied at dramatic moments, allowing you to quickly land four shots before your enemies can react. From here, the action is at its most traditional, adding control of an armed UAV. The multiplayer introduces global warfighters — the aforementioned Tier 1 units from 10 nations. The final phrase — "For Honor. For Country." — drew the biggest applause yet.

EA Sports comes in with its lineup. Every game you play connects across every platform. Madden now includes Madden NFL 13 Social; you can start on Facebook and finish on the phone. There will be new skating physics in NHL 13 but particulars weren't discussed. New social modifications, such as NBA Live 13 changing over the season, were also highlighted, though not discussed beyond, "We're returning to basketball in a big way."

Then Matt Bilby came in to cover FIFA 13. May 13 showed FIFA's connection to Manchester's victory: It's football's social network. Football Club was introduced in 2011, and there are 11 million players. Four core announcements were highlighted: All XP from FIFA 12 persists to FIFA 13. Actions earn you points to get new items, and on-the-go games advance the main game.  Lionel Messi is used to highlight advanced dribbling and the advanced attack engine. Newer possession battles are emphasized, with near-perfect touch removed for more opportunities for both offense and defense. A trailer showcased features in rapid succession to set up what they call the biggest update in the FIFA series' 20-year history: Attacking Intelligence, Battles for Possession, Complete Dribbling, Creative Attacks, First Touch Control, Player Impact engine and Tactical Free Kicks. They even managed to do this without saying the word "soccer" once.

Then, immediately, a new trailer starts, showing a new MMA entry ... with the UFC! Thunderous applause ensued immediately. UFC's president, Dana White, comes in to introduce the new, multiyear, multiproduct partnership. World-class organizations and fighters will be in the octagon, and it's the fastest-growing sport in the world with half a billion fans.

"Unrestricted by rules," stated the next trailer. Criterion returns to Need for Speed with crash physics and stunts in Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Matt Webster goes through the series history to explain that the premise is to "Become The Most Wanted."  This will be an open-world driving game that lets you chase, explore and race. He highlighted second-generation Autolog, which features deeper friend integration. Competition can be based on the fastest race times, the biggest score in pursuits, the best long jump, and the best in playlist challenges. Speedwall are quick course checkpoint races in the tradition of Burnout Paradise, but with a Burnout Dominator-style nitrous gauge and crashes a la Burnout 3: Takedown, complete with improvised cut scenes after a takedown. At the end of the race, there is a pause to show the results and then you're right back to your car, and it's time to evade the police while using the environment to gain advantage. Craig Ferguson shows that the Busted mechanic, which in past Need For Speed entries, meant that staying too close to a cop car meant that the game is over, wasn't functional yet … then he heads off with a quick, "God Save The Queen."

Crytek's Cevat Yerli follows swiftly, with Crysis 3 and the newest version of the Cryengine. High-rise canyons, rivers and swamps were noted. Urban rainforests, which are designed to allow multiple play styles, represent the main environments. The demo begins, showing several evolutions. Gun stats are shown as you switch to them.  Boost mode is a dedicated dash button, rather than switching between modes. The player breaks the room to damage a hydroelectric generator and show off the detailed destruction of the environment. A crossbow is new. Swimming is fully provided for, followed by powerline-based rappeling. As a capstone, they broke the dam that had been the mission environment up to this point. It's all rendered live with startling detail and confirmed for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in February 2013.

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