LOS ANGELES--At the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Electronic Arts had a robust lineup of software to show off. The company unveiled a deal through its EA Partners program to publish APB, the oft-delayed online crime actioner that has been referred to as the "Grand Theft Auto MMOG"--even though it isn't a traditional massively multiplayer game. (Its games are limited to 100 simultaneous players.) Also on tap were The Saboteur, Crysis 2, BioWare's MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Double Fine's Brutal Legend--which was promptly slapped with a lawsuit from former publisher Activision. (The suit has since been resolved, and the game shipped last October.)
This year, it's unclear what EA will be showing off. A strong contender is EA Sports MMA, EA Sports' first foray into the mixed martial arts category, which was revealed last year. Also likely are the heavily hinted at Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3, which BioWare has already confirmed in a FAQ on its Web site.
The still-unreleased APB--due out June 29--is also likely to make an appearance, as might another EAP title, the new mystery multiplatform title from formerly PlayStation 3-exclusive Insomniac Games. Also possible is new information on the upcoming title from Respawn Entertainment, the nascent independent studio being formed by the fired founders of Infinity Ward with seed money from EA.
Come back Monday for a live blog of EA's press briefing or watch a live video stream of it on GameSpot's E3 2010 event page.
[2:02] The show's designated 2 p.m. start time has arrived, but there are few indications to suggest things will get rolling right away.
[2:04] A schmooze pit has formed near the stage, with a number of expensive suits and game journalists clustered together. The house music actually seems to be getting louder.
[2:04] On the way in, attendees were given 3D glasses with the Crysis 2 logo on them.
[2:05] The house music fades just long enough for an announcer to say the show will start in about five minutes.
[2:08] Camera men on the balcony of the Orpheum fiddle with tripods and lenses, grabbing sweeping shots of the crowded theater.
[2:10] The lights dim, and people reach for their 3D glasses.
[2:10] A trailer kicks the show off with some police chatter, then glimpses of a sports car tearing along a coastal highway.
[2:11] An improbably sleek police car chases down the speeding sports car, aided by a police copter dropping spike stripes in the way.
[2:11] It's Criterions Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.
[2:12] The game is set to debut November 16, which draws huge applause from the crowd.
[2:12] Criterion creative director Craig Sullivan takes the stage, saying the team is reimagining the franchise for a connected generation.
[2:12] Players will go through a full career as a racer as well as a cop.
[2:14] He shows off the Autolog feature, which tells gamers which of their friends are online and what records they've claimed.
[2:15] Sullivan brings out another developer to showoff a bit of gameplay. The race starts with a cutscene showing the suspect (Matt Webster) busting through a police barricade with Sullivan in hot pursuit (naturally).
[2:16] The chase shows off some Burnout-like boosting and sparks flying as the cars swap paint.
[2:17] Webster's car gets gradually dinged up, then begins smoking before Sullivan T-bones him and sends the car flipping end over end.
[2:17] EA CEO John Riccitiello takes the stage, and curiously enough starts his presentation saying, "It doesn't get better than that."
[2:18] Despite that, he says he's here to show off 10 great games from 10 great producers, starting with Dead Space 2 and Steve Papoutsis.
[2:18] Papoutsis says Dead Space's original goal was to establish the brand in the horror genre. The goal for the sequel is to put a unique stamp on the genre.
[2:19] The game takes place on "The Sprawl," a full city overrun by Necromorphs.
[2:20] Papoutsis guides the audience through a gameplay demo starting in the Church of Unitology on the Sprawl.
[2:20] It's quiet for all of two seconds, but as soon as the main character moves, he is pounced upon by a monstrous spider-like Necromorph with a scorpion's tail.
[2:22] After roughing up the main character, the Necromorph retreats, allowing a dozen or so smaller, bald, child-like creatures with sharp claws to take the player on.
[2:22] The player dispatches the horde in gruesome fashion, twice grabbing the monstrosities and punching through their heads.
[2:23] The demo shows off a number of weapons, from the standard pistol-style gun to a wider-range shotgun weapon.
[2:24] All of which double as mining tools, in the game's fiction.
[2:24] Isaac takes an elevator trip up to the higher floors of the church, pausing to look out over the Sprawl's skyline.
[2:25] The view is ruined by a flying ship of some kind shooting out the windows, which causes the room to depressurize. He escapes, but only to find himself in still more danger.
[2:25] Papoutsis ends his demo by calling it a cliffhanger, promising gamers will "find out how it ends tomorrow at the Sony show."
[2:26] The game is set to launch January 25.
[2:26] Riccitiello is back on to talk about first-person shooters. He's introducing the next big step EA is taking to reclaim the "quality bar" in the genre.
[2:26] He introduces EA LA's Sean Decker to talk about Medal of Honor.
[2:27] The game will take players to war-torn Afghanistan, Decker says. And in doing so, the developer has enlisted assistance from the team at DICE.
[2:28] His goal is to make the most incredible modern warfare game this year, and to give an idea of where they are with that goal, he says it's time for a 24-person live demo of the game.
[2:28] A bank of 18 monitors descends from the rafters, and 18 players come out to play a game.
[2:30] The two teams go at it in an Afghani town that has clearly seen a good bit of action already. One of the players calls in an air strike, which brings the live demo to an end.
[2:31] The game will launch on October 12.
[2:31] A beta for the game will go live on June 21 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
[2:32] Decker leaves the stage after introducing a trailer for the game's multiplayer beta. It won't all be Afghani urban environments, as players will go from the ruins of Kabul to desolate valleys in the beta.
[2:33] Katrina Strafford, EA's senior online director comes on to introduce Gun Club. EA's Gun Club will give members early access to news and events in the shooter genre.
[2:33] A trailer promises early demo access, weapon unlocks and more, and features Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dead Space 2, Battlefield: Heroes, Medal of Honor, and more.
[2:34] One of the first rewards will be for Bad Company 2 VIPs to get early access to the Medal of Honor beta.
[2:34] The beta begins for Gun Club members on June 17.
[2:34] Speaking of Bad Company 2, Strafford introduces a trailer for a new downloadable expansion pack for the game, set to arrive this winter.
[2:35] It's Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam, featuring a bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son."
[2:36] EA Sports president Peter Moore comes out next, talking about his division's three game changers, the first of which is EA MMA.
[2:37] Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko will share the cover-star duties.
[2:37] Moore says each of the fighters in the game will have their fighting styles authentically recreated.
[2:38] Additionally, the game will compose a diverse array of rule sets and rings from every corner of the globe, emphasizing the worldwide appeal of mixed martial arts.
[2:39] Moore also talks about the game's Live Broadcast feature, which lets players make their own hype videos to trash talk opponents and compete for prizes in front of an audience, all the while real commentators deliver play-by-play.
[2:40] It sounds like Microsoft's 1-vs.-100 game, only more violent.
[2:41] Moore says EA will have "promoters" scouting matches online to find people for the Live Broadcast feature.
[2:41] EA MMA will launch October 19.
[2:41] Moore moves on to the publisher's interactive fitness division, and introduces another EA suit to talk about EA Sports Active 2.
[2:42] EA Sports Active 2 is going online and wireless, with versions for Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360.
[2:43] A trailer shows off the game's new heart rate monitor and online functions, and announces a November 16 release date.
[2:43] The game's pitchman is back to introduce a live demo of EA Sports Active 2 for Xbox 360 Kinect.
[2:44] EA Sports Active's heart rate monitors will be "as accurate as anything on the market," and will strap around users' arms.
[2:45] He shows off a mountain biking minigame on the Wii version, and squat-to-shoulder-press workout on the PS3.
[2:46] On the Xbox 360, the Kinect boxing minigame shows 1:1 motion as the demo boxer bobs and weaves around a punching bag.
[2:47] Moore retakes the stage to introduce the third EA Sports game of the show, Madden NFL 11. He says it might be perhaps the biggest revolution in the history of the franchise.
[2:48] A trailer for the game hypes the evolution of Madden, starting with a revised playcalling system intended to be less intimidating.
[2:48] The game will also feature 3 versus 3 cooperative team play online, and the voice of Gus Johnson on play-by-play.
[2:49] Moore said this year's game will give players all the drama of a full game in half the time. He shows off the "game flow" playcalling system.
[2:50] Moore introduces legendary NFL quarterback Joe Montana to talk about the game.
[2:51] Montana talked about 49ers coach Bill Walsh and the way he called plays, which Moore says is emulated in the new Madden.
[2:52] The system is designed to make adjustments on the fly easier to handle. The interface will allow players to choose whether to use Game Flow or the full playbook before each snap.
[2:53] Montana takes the crowd through a few plays of a virtual rematch of last year's Saints-Colts Super Bowl, and Moore emphasizes making plays with Game Flow, not just calls.
[2:54] Montana leaves to great applause, soon followed by Moore.
[2:56] A man in a suit takes the stage and asked if everyone in the theater had any real choice in being here today, or if it were determined by destiny. A Sims 3 logo comes on the back as the speaker talks about the Greek gods and how they were flawed.
[2:57] Likening players of the Sims to the gods, the speaker (Rod Humble) talks about the appeal of the game, seeing the way these individuals outside of the player's control behave.
[2:58] The developers know exactly how the Sims universe works, Humble said, but even the developers can't actually predict the things that will happen in the game.
[2:59] Humble gets into the ramifications of free will and exactly how much people have relative to Sims before bringing the topic back around to the console versions of The Sims 3.
[3:00] "The dance between the player and the little world is a magical thing. They're alive in there."
[3:01] A trailer shows off scenes from a city full of Sims, birthdays and arguments, daydreaming, proposals, dumpster diving, and mourning.
[3:01] Humble says The Sims 3 will arrive on consoles in October.
[3:03] Riccitiello is back out to talk about EA Partners. He runs down the list of developers they've partnered with, and delivers a quick shout out to some recently signed Partners in the audience, Insomniac's Ted Price and Respawn Entertainment's Jason West and Vince Zampella.
[3:04] Riccitiello calls Crytek's Cevat Yerli to the stage to talk about Crysis 2. He said the game will be a new kind of experience, where the developer doesn't tell players how to enjoy the game; it just gives them tools like the game's Nanosuit.
[3:04] Yerli said players will need to save New York City in the game, which he promises will combine the freedom of a sandbox world with the intensity of a more scripted experience.
[3:05] He introduces a demo of the game, which plays in 2D for now.
[3:06] It shows a firefight in Grand Central Station, with a player taking on a two-legged robot and a variety of other opponents.
[3:07] The player uses active camouflage and high explosives to fight the mech, planting an explosive charge between its legs and using a rocket launcher to finish the job.
[3:08] The player looks up to see a neighboring skyscraper collapsing, and an evacuation of the station is completed just before the building caves into the train station.
[3:09] Yerli introduces the 3D trailer, which starts with a Nanosuit-equipped soldier dropping from the sky on to the hood of a car.
[3:10] It isn't long before a firefight erupts, with the 3D effect particularly noticeable on spent shell casings and sparks.
[3:12] The trailer leads to a showdown between the player and the giant walking robots from the live demo in the middle of Times Square before promising a holiday 2010 release date.
[3:13] It's time to talk Bulletstorm, and Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games is out with the People can Fly creative director and the game's Epic Games producer.
[3:13] Bleszinski says the game will come out February 22, 2011.
[3:14] The game's producer likens the game to a "blood symphony," with weapons for instruments and the player as a conductor.
[3:15] She explains the game as a "circle of awesome," in which "doing cool s***" is rewarded with new powers and abilities, which players in turn use to "do more cool s***."
[3:15] The People Can Fly creative director takes over for a live demo of the game, showing off some gameplay, from rappelling down a wire to sliding into cover.
[3:16] He kicks down a door, killing the enemy behind it, then punts another pair of baddies into an electrical generator.
[3:17] "You scared the d*** off of me," screams the main character after his fellow firefighter escapes a brush with death.
[3:18] He uses an energy whip to fling an enemy closer toward him, at which point time slows slightly so he can punt his victim out of the air.
[3:19] A Gatling gun-wielding enemy poses a stiff challenge, until the player uses the whip-kick combo to turn him around and unloads his rifle into the guy's back.
[3:20] The demo ends with a train escape, the player shooting enemies off buggies attempting to chase them down.
[3:24] Next up is Star Wars: The Old Republic.
[3:25] A CG trailer shows a battle between clone trooper force sand the Sith, with Destroyer Droids and a handful of lightsaber wielding foes getting the best of the Republic forces.
[3:26] A Jedi shows up just in the nick of time and fights off the Sith with a twin-bladed blue lightsaber.
[3:28] Working together the leader of the clone troopers and the Jedi overpower their opponents, leaving the soldier to signal his comrades that the battle is won.
[3:28] The planet is shown from orbit, with an abundance of flare signals from Republic forces across the continent.
[3:29] Riccitiello is back on stage to thank all the developers for putting their best work on the show, as well as the crowd for attending. That's it for EA's conference.