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All the E3 News That Didn’t Fit

This the last time I mention E3, promise, unless to say “I played this at E3”. There are a few things I didn’t mention because my work ethic has flagged since returning. Also, I’m not sure everything requires a mammoth post. I’m sure that the people making the game think it does, but that doesn’t make it so.

With that in mind, here’s all the stuff that didn’t fit in past posts, or that I didn’t get to.

I have to admit, I’m a little distracted. Henry, my ancient cockapoo, is at the vet, the victim of an apparently unhealable…thing on the underside of his chin. Whatever this thing is, it does not respond to drugs. My dog is miserable because he has to wear a cone 24/7 lest he hurt himself by scratching it. My wife has had to do laundry all of the time because, before the cone, the dog bled all over the place. Unfortunately, Henry is very old (two weeks shy of 17), he has a heart murmur and he has high values of something that has to do with his liver. Any one of these makes anesthesia risky, all of them makes anesthesia very risky. The alternative, though, was for him to continue being miserable at home. It was a strange conversation with the vet, him telling me that it was risky but there’s really no other option, me saying that he’s miserable at home, neither one of us wanting to be the one that says “Let’s do it.” Finally I did, so it’s going to be done. Hopefully he’ll come out ok. If not, we did our best.

So yeah, E3. HAWKEN is pretty awesome. We played it at a LAN event and while the customization options are incredibly daunting when you come into it cold and only have a few minutes to kit out your mech, it looks like there’s a lot there to play with. I’m not sure how much is aesthetic and how much is functional, but if you like lots and lots of mech limbs, you’ll be in heaven.

Combat is exactly how mech combat should be. Your mech has a definite sense of weight, from the way you move around the battlefield to the satisfying WHUMP when you touch down after a rocket boost and your weapons sound delightfully destructive, especially the spin-up of the chain gun. Dashing is well implemented, and quite useful for damage avoidance. Speaking of being shot, getting peppered with bullets while your damage alarms blare in your ears as you lead your opponent to the exact right moment where you unleash your Hellfire missiles and blow them back to Hell is an experience that can only happen in a Mech game. In our multiplayer match, I killed a lot of dudes, in fact, I was either first or second in kills, and that never happens. There’s something about being able to soak up some damage in order to have enough time to power up your weapons or make a shot that is very appealing. I’m not fast enough to compete with the twitch gamers, but I can pilot a mech or two. Granted, I’m sure once the hardcore mech players get in there, I’ll be toast, but in a room of E3 journalists waiting for the bar to open, I’m pretty damn awesome.

I also like how in HAWKEN you can leave the battlefield and go heal up. Our opponents weren’t sending anyone to scout the outskirts, which allowed me to leave and fully heal before going back into the fray. I’m not going to say that won the match for us, but seeing how were were behind for 3/4 of the time and then roared back to win by two or three points, me going and healing three times rather than give our opponents three more kills certainly made our victory easier.

Seeing how this is PC only, and free-to-play MP only to boot, I doubt I’ll spend more time with it than my brief stint atop the leaderboard, but for those looking to get in on some nasty mech action, it’s one to keep an eye on.

I spent some time with the folks from Nival and man, what a nice bunch of people they were. Nival makes King’s Bounty: Legions, currently rocking the 3D turn based strategy vibe on Facebook and Kongregate but they’re also looking to bring the game to tablets. Nival also makes Prime World, a cross platform, action strategy game that lets you battle over territory in MOBA style skirmishes. The interesting thing about Prime World is that you can just play Prime World proper, or you can play one of a number of tie-in games such as Emaki, a Zuma style painting puzzler game. In Emaki, the goal is to shoot paint blobs to complete the illustration on a scroll. If all you want to play is Emaki, you’re all set. If you play Prime World, that scroll can be sent to your Prime World game as a resource. The same thing goes for Prime World Defenders, their upcoming mobile tower defense game. In Prime World Defenders, you build a deck of resources to be used for the current map and then deploy resources as needed to keep the marching tides of enemies from stealing your energy source. Same as with Emaki, as you do well in Prime World Defenders, you send resources to your Prime World account. Even better, if your family members are playing the mobile games, but not Prime World, you can hook your Prime World account up to their mobile games and they can send you resources while they play for doing what they’d be doing any way.

The games are all very slick looking and looked pretty interesting. Emaki will be out in June and Prime World Defenders will be out in August. As a full on iPad gaming junkie, I will be looking out for both of them.

So far, so good. The vet hasn’t called, but I’m not sure if that’s because has hasn’t performed the surgery, he did perform the surgery and everything went fine or he performed the surgery, it didn’t go well and he’s not sure how to tell us. What’s strange is that I’m somewhat at peace with whatever happens. When Maggie died, it was a bit of a surprise. She went downhill very quickly. Henry has been going downhill since Maggie died, partially due to her death, no doubt, and right now, he’s there but not really there. I can’t say that he doesn’t have good quality of life, but I can’t say he’s living the high life either. He just kind of exists.

I thought that once the dogs were gone, we wouldn’t get any more dogs, mostly because I wouldn’t want them, but the exact opposite has happened. Every day I look at the dogs available for adoption at our local shelter. I see the pictures of the new puppies, I watch the videos of the somewhat older dogs and I think about how good it will be to get a new dog. My wife wants one, two actually, my daughter wants one, my son says he does, but he’s also afraid of every dog that ever walked the planet, so he’s a work in progress. I think that once you’re a dog person, you’re a dog person for life and a life without dogs is demonstrably less rich than one with them, even with the cost and effort that comes with owning one. There is something about coming home to a dog that just can’t be beat. Sure, my wife and kids love me and are happy to see me, but a dog greets you like she never thought she’d see you again.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 hit me right in that action movie loving part of my reptilian brain. I have successfully avoided every modern Call of Duty but my resistance may crumble with Black Ops 2. That overwatch mode is pretty hot. I bet my endorsement is exactly what the game needed to go on and be successful. Good luck, Black Ops 2!

I saw a game called Enemy Front. It was a WWII shooter. The twist is that you’re behind enemy lines, so no one is chattering in your ear. Seriously, that’s it. When you preface your game demo with the statement that you know that WWII shooters have been done to death, you need to bring something more than solitude to the table to justify the game’s existence. On a completely unrelated note, they were serving hot dogs at the booth. Yeah, hot dogs.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown looks good and I will probably try to play it. Company of Heroes 2 looks shit hot and I will have no part in it, for intelligence and low-powered PC related reasons. Metro: Last Light looks amazing and I jumped like a scared child at multiple points during the trailer. The Elder Scrolls MMO looks terrible. I drew an angry whale in my notes for Dishonored.

There, that’s it. I’m done. I am officially all E3’d out. I hope you enjoyed it, I know I did.

Now if only the damned vet would call.

MMA Time with Bellator

I like fighting games, but I’m terrible at them and the more technical they are, the more terrible I am. I can handle basic things, enough to get started, but once you start talking about canceling out of hyper-combos or picking characters based on how well they can pull off moves in between frames of animation, I’m out. I can certainly appreciate the technical skill needed to master such games, but that doesn’t mean I want said mastery for myself. Hell, even if I did, I’m not sure it’s even possible.

While at E3 I spent half an hour talking to 345 games, the game making arm of Viacom and developers behind Bellator: MMA Onslaught. They also appreciate the technical mastery needed to pull off a deep, fighting game, but they’re also happy giving you a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master with purple chest hair and within five minutes letting you whup up on your friends.

Bellator Fighting Championship’s hook, aside from letting you watch men beat the snot out of each other, is that shots at the title are earned, not given. Tournaments are held across eight different weight classes and the only rule for moving forward is that you have to win. Each “season” starts with eight fighters per class, with the entrants winnowed down across the tournament rounds until one fighter is crowned champion for their weight class. Since debuting in 2009 the league has steadily gained broadcasting partners, growing from the initial broadcasts on ESPN Deportes to MTV2 and soon, Spike TV.

In making the companion fighting game, 345 has chosen accessibility and ease of use over overly technical fighting system. That’s not to say that you can wade into Onslaught and claim your prize, but the focus is definitely on making it easy to create stable of different fighters and getting you headed down the road to Broken Noseville. Character creation allows for four customized fighters per user profile and a generous selection of build, facial appearance and hair options. Fighters can be either featherweight or lightweight class and can specialize in Jiu Jitsu, wrestling or kickboxing. Jiu Jitus fighters have an advantage on the ground, wrestlers excel at throws and kickboxers are good at kicking in your teeth.

Once in one of the six different arenas, health and stamina are equally important to surviving to fight another day. Health allows you to stay on your feet, but stamina allows you to keep punching. Grabbing a dude, throwing him to the ground and pounding on his head may seem like a savvy strategy, but if you spend all of your stamina, your opponent can easily throw you off of him and then close in for a quick KO. Managing attacking and defending becomes very important, as does mixing up punches to whittle down health and stamina in equal measure.

As this is an arcade fighter, the controls are pretty easy to pick up. There are different buttons for high and low punches as well as high and low kicks. The right thumbstick is used for grabs and throws as well as counter-grabs and for getting the other guy off of you should you get taken to the ground. I spent about 20 minutes watching the developers play while listening to them talk, before picking up the controller myself and within no time I was in the ring and fighting. I even won a time or two, but that may have been more due to developer pity than technical skill.

As you win bouts, you earn experience to put towards new moves, but in the interest of balance, no fighter will ever be able to be fully maxed out. As a nice bonus, if you download a trial of the game and make a fighter that you can’t bear to be without, you can keep him when you unlock the main game. Once you’ve spent time honing your craft in the single player, you can go online for ranked matches. Get on the leaderboards and you may see your name displayed during a real life Bellator match. You may want to rethink that K1ttyL0v3r gamertag there, bub.

345 told me that they’re committed to keeping MMA Onslaught up to date with new features based on fan reaction and with the full support of Bellator and Viacom, it looks like they’re in a position to do just that. I got the feeling that they were genuinely interested in making a game that was less of a one time tie-in and more of a companion to the real life league, and a way for fans to connect with the league as times goes on.

Bellator: MMA Onslaught will be available for download on PSN and XBLA on 7/4 for roughly $15. Prepare your gamertag accordingly.

Handheld Fun with Sony

One of the problems of being at E3 is that you don’t always know what the general perspective of E3 is. I’m not sure if that’s an actual problem or just a blissful result of being in your own self absorbed world of giant, transforming robots and physical embodiments of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

So, when I read Michael’s excellent Gravity Rush piece, I wondered why he thought that Sony had given up on the Vita. After all, I spent a good hour going from one Vita title to another at the Sony booth at E3, surrounded by other folks similarly interested in Sony’s little handheld powerhouse.

As it turned, out, Michael was talking about the lack of Vita coverage at the Sony presser, which gave the impression that Sony was over the Vita. It’s perfectly understandable and yet another reason to avoid those vapid PR spectacles and instead seek out information on individual games.

The game that I spent the most time with at the Sony booth was the upcoming Sly Cooper game, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. I was first drawn to it on the PS3 but once I saw it on running on the Vita, I knew it had to be mine.

Simply put, they’re the same game. And when I mean it’s the same game, I mean that between the visual style of the game and the power present in the Vita, the two games look identical. It reminds me of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 on the Vita. Add to the visuals the fact that the Vita has two thumbsticks, like a PS3 controller, and gryoscopic doo-dads, like a PS3 controller, and you have a handheld game that plays almost identical to its larger console counterpart.

I say “almost” because, as nice as the Vita’s screen is, sometimes a larger screen is nice for seeing hidden objects, alternate routes, etc, but even so, the fact that the Vita version of Sly Cooper plays the same as the PS3 version means that I’ll gladly play nothing but the Vita version. For the record, the two games being identical isn’t some marketing speak. I specifically chose to play the same level on both systems in order to compare and contrast. What can I say, you can take the man out of QA but you can’t take the QA out of the man.

Despite being developed by a different studio than the previous three games, this is definitely a Sly Cooper game, with all that entails. The slow, somewhat stilted dialog that starts each mission is still there, as is Sly’s set of acrobatic moves. With this version, Sly can change costumes and gain extra abilities as a result of the quick change. The level I played had Sly dressed up as his Robin Hood-esque ancestor and using a bow and arrow to sling ropes across the circus tent he was climbing up. If you’ve played and enjoyed Sly Cooper games in the past, I think this will scratch that itch for 3D platforming and thievery.

If you feel like dropping the cash on both versions of the game, you can do the whole cross platform play and swap your saves across hardware for a completely uninterrupted Sly Cooper gaming experience. I have no desire to do that, but I can understand the appeal, especially if you were playing a ton of Sly and then embarking on vacation. I’m not sure any game is worth almost $120 for a contiguous play experience, but I bet Bill would pay that much to be able to play Dark Souls at every waking moment. Me, I’ll stick with the Vita version. It’s cheaper, it looks just as good and I can bring it with me to work for lunchtime play.

After that it was off to try some Jet Set Radio. I never played the original game and I know that it is much loved by the Dreamcast fans. Maybe I’m just terrible at it, but I didn’t get it. I’m hoping that they release a demo that I can try under better conditions, because if my performance with it at E3 is any indication, I’ll just be wasting my money. It did look nice, for whatever that’s worth.

After the shame of Jet Set Radio, I moved down a couple of units and picked up a game from Xseed called Orgarhythm. Usually when I play a game I prefer to be allowed to do my thing in silence while I figure everything out, but the woman standing at the Orgarhythm section and playing the game was so enthusiastic about it that I didn’t mind her giving me the ins and outs.

The game is a combination rhythm-RTS in which you control a host of armies as your main character, a deity of some sort, casually strolls across the countryside. As he walks, music plays and your job is to queue up his armies and their attacks based on the beat of the music. The game is played with nothing but the touchscreen and while it did take me a few minutes to figure out what I was doing, soon I was bopping my head along and ordering waves of attacks.

The better you are at tapping out the army selection, unit selection and then drawing a line for your armies to follow, the more units you get at your command. In addition to the rhythmic aspect, there’s an elemental aspect to your armies and the attacking enemies meaning you have to make sure you’re deploying the right armies based on the enemies that are attacking.

Once the game gets going and you’re fending off attacks and adding units to your ranks, special bonuses and power-ups become available. Being rewarded with a larger army and more powerful attacks was a great incentive to keep tapping out the right rhythm as was the fact that your deity doesn’t stop walking for anything. Knowing that you have to be constantly on guard lest your character die is incredibly motivating.

Finally, while I didn’t get my hands on the Vita version, I did manage to play the PS3 version of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It’s not a bad take on Smash Bros., with all of the chaos that brings with it. I’m not too keen on having to completely drain your opponents’ health bars before you can kill them as one of the things that brings such depth to Smash Bros. is how different characters can knock you off of the stage more easily than others. Still, if you’ve always wanted to play Smash Bros. but are somehow wedded to Sony products, I can see this holding appeal.

It’s a shame that Sony didn’t mention the Vita more in their press conference as this system needs all of the public praising it can get. At least they did have games, and pretty good ones at that, for people to play. At the Nintendo booth, the only way to get your hands on a 3DS was to flag down a booth lady and ask to play the unit tethered to her waist. Gee, thanks Nintendo, I think I’ll pass.

The Lego Games of 2012: Batman 2 and Lord of the Rings

One of the more notable surprises for me at E3 this year was just how incredibly good Lego Batman 2 looked – and not in a “for a Lego” game kind of way. This new trailer doesn’t offer much of a peak at the game, but it does show the new voice work and, as much as I liked the “Legoeese” of the previous games, it looks like it’ll add some dimensions those other games lacked. However, there’s a lot more to this one, and the upcoming Lord of the Rings game, than some solid voice work…

So, Lego Batman 2. It’s got a full range of DC Superheroes, but then you probably new, at least, about characters like Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Flash all making an appearance. Executive Producer Ames Kirshen, however, told me the game would have “dozens and dozens” more of DC’s both well and lesser known characters. When I started going through the list of Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, etc. he merely smiled and said he wasn’t allowed to say more.

He was willing to tell me, however, that the game, despite all these characters being available, does still center around Batman, with the Bat Cave remaining the home base for all that you do. Taking a page from Arkham City, the game lets you travel, with relative freedom, throughout Gotham City, with numbers on the main map indicating progressive mission points you can tackle.

I didn’t see a lot of the game’s characters in action, but I did get a good long look at The Flash, and hot damn was that cool. The Flash is a tricky one. How do you make a character superfast without making him impossible for the player to control? They got it done. The Flash looks amazing on screen and has just enough precision control to make his speed powers effective. Likewise, flying around with Superman to the tune of the John Williams score playing in the background gave me a great big geek smile.

Make no mistake, this looks like a joyous DC superhero game, not just a Lego game with DC super heroes in it. It’s coming out in a week, so if I’m wrong, there’ll be plenty of chances for you to all call me stupid.

The other Lego game on display was the Lord of the Rings game. I didn’t get as good a look at this one as I’d of liked (no hands-on time), but per Publishing Producer David Abrams, this is another fully voiced game and the overriding goal is to pay homage to the films. (As a fan of the books, who thought only the first film truly nailed the spirit of the story, I was rather put off by this, but I recognize I’m in the minority there.)

What really stood out here, however, wasn’t the attention to detail brought to Lego-izing this iconic setting (though it’s considerable), but the number of RPG-lite wrinkles they’re adding to usual Lego model. Characters will have small inventories to manage, a fully explorable and unlockable “hub environment” for Middle Earth, upgradeable items and weapons, and quests to solve. One such example I was given included the need for the party to make a fire, something only Samwise Gamgee can do and something he can only do if he’s got a tinderbox in his possession.

There’s also some new twists to co-op play, including the ability for characters to go into completely separate, but concurrent, questlines when the story demands it. The example I saw took place in the mines of Moria where Gadalf battles the balrog in freefall on one side of the screen while the party escapes on the other. It looked well-implemented and these games have already come a long way with using the split-screen effect to make sure co-op players aren’t driving each other crazy moving in opposite directions. (There are times I dread it when Ana and Kyle boot up Star Wars or Indiana Jones.)

I asked Abrams if adding all these new wrinkles risked making it a little too hard for younger audience to get into, while not being enough to bring in more dedicated RPG players, and he said the team is working hard to ensure that doesn’t happen and the game remains just as accessible as the rest of the Lego game family.

Would I play these games if I didn’t have kids? Certainly, I wouldn’t see myself playing The Lord of the Rings solo if it weren’t for the fact that my progeny adore the games (and liked me reading The Hobbit), but Batman 2 looks cool in a way that makes me want to play it, not as a parent-child bonding experience, but as a gamer.

The EA Sports E3 2012 Report

EA Sports puts on great E3 demo presentations. There is a real art to this. While the Dead Space demo was too long and sort of tedious to sit through, the EAS team has this stuff down pat. It is so beneficial when they show you gameplay clips from last year’s game be it FIFA, Madden, NHL, etc. And then follow that up with the new version, showing you precisely why and how it has improved.

This was evident with NHL 13 and FIFA. Seeing the old skating model in NHL and then seeing the changes for 13…it was striking. This is the real focus it seems with NHL and the skating felt great and the inability to turn on a dime this year will fundamentally change how you play both offensively and defensively.

It sounds like a small fix but after you spend time playing it, it is very easy to see the improvements. Example: I was given the gamepad and told to race down the ice; it takes a bit longer to reach full speed in ’13 and you can also press the left stick in for what is essentially a speed burst. I got the sense that it really was a speed “burst” and not a turbo button, but I’ll need to spend more time with it. Still, at full speed I was told to cut across the net; in NHL 12 this would have been an easy maneuver, even with the puck. However, in NHL ’13 my speedy skater tried to turn, his momentum, due to his speed being what it was carried him crashing into the boards. The idea of turning while racing at full speed — it’s simply not going to happen. This will absolutely change how NHL plays — and I think for the better. There was more to the demo from additional animations, the talk of better physics, better defensive positioning, etc. but this was my big takeaway from my playtime. NHL is one of EA’s best franchises and this looked like a no-brainer purchase.

The same can be said of the FIFA 13 demo. There was again talk of new animations, better physics, more realistic moves, the sort of stuff you expect from an E3 presentation. What stood out to me was the fact that players can screw up. This has always been a sticking point with me when it comes to FIFA. I want players to make mistakes and not all behave the same as if they were playing for Arsenal. The example we saw followed a goal kick, as the ball sailed high overhead and beyond the midline, an average player raced for it. The ball went over his head and in the old game, as long as he touched it, it would stick to his foot like glue. In FIFA ’13, he may miss it outright, he may make a great play and control it or it could even go off the side of his foot and end up as a turnover. It looked natural.

Anyway, the other point I took from the demo was the smarter play from AI players — not just the opposing team but the players on your own team. Runs look smooth and no longer are stopped due to a change in position. A player won’t make a run that takes him offside, stopping momentum. It was pretty slick.

If the rest of the game works like this, and if average to low rated players play as such it will go a long way in making FIFA, already a very good game, even better. This was a very good demo, no doubt.

Next was Madden 13. Every year I hear the same thing from whoever is giving the Madden demo. Buzzwords like “Rebuilt”, “Brand new”, “From the ground up” and so on. This year was no different. The boxes were checked when talking to the game’s producer — it sounded perfect on paper. When I played the game I have to admit I didn’t see the huge difference in using the new engine. It felt like…Madden. However, there was one huge takeaway that, much like NHL ’13, could fundamentally change the way the game plays.

If you have played Madden you know this scenario:

You drop back to pass, your slot receiver runs a deep post and your split end runs a fly pattern. You throw to the receiver on the post and the millisecond you let it fly the defensive back guarding the player running the fly breaks on the ball. His back was to the play and in no way should know the ball is even in the air, let alone break on it like he’s a spider with multiple eyes. He races over to swat the ball away. Woo hoo nice play Robot Deion Sanders.

That looks to finally be fixed in Madden 13. DBs will now need to have “LOS” (line of sight) to the play before they react to it. This not only makes passing feel great but it also helps the run game as well. I played for a decent chunk and stopped and started the instant replay to make sure it was working as intended and sure enough…it was. Again there was a lot of stuff discussed in the demo from various trajectories on passes, etc. But this was my #1 takeaway from the gameplay demo. Oh, and that they retired Gus Johnson and Collinsworth (Woo!!) and replaced them with Nance and Simms.

The franchise chat I had with Josh Looman was worth the trip. Now, understand, I have no clue if this is going to work but I LOVED what Josh was selling me. It really is a radical departure from the old franchise mode, which in truth no longer exists. I could write a complete 2,000 word post on what they are trying to do here but I’ll give you the abridged version.

It’s called Connected Careers and it allows you to play as any coach or any player (online or offline) and even switch from one to the other mid career if you like. As a coach you run the team and as a player you have to do what the brass tells you. I love the fact that if you decide to play as the 2nd sting QB in Denver you are not going to play ahead of Manning just because you want to. You need to earn it. The best players play. The thing to remember is that now everything is performance based. Your abilities rise and fall based on incentives. Rush for 750 yards and you stay pretty much the same ratings wise; gash the league for 1,500 yards and watch as your ratings go up (depending on your age). So no longer will a player just blossom into a star without showing flashes of that ability. There is so much here that we’ll need to see work in practice — the draft for example. Players no longer have “potential” ratings. Poof. Gone. You scout them and you can see what the current ratings are (or at least ballpark) but the notion of a player with super high potential is a thing of the past. How will that work? I’m still fuzzy.

Players, coaches, whether controlled by you or the AI earn XP — so it’s very much like a mini-RPG. It’s potentially brilliant. (and will remind old timers of Head Coach, and if you know Josh this should come as no surprise.) But how will the AI handle that task? There is a LOT of decision making left at the feet of the AI. That scares me.

Free agency has changed from the old bidding method to a 4 or 5 week FA period. Player personality and the system a team uses will also help shape where players sign (not always for the most $$). In addition, player ratings fluctuate depending on the system in place. A great nose tackle might be rated a 90 in a 3-4 and lower if asked to play in a 4-3 scheme.

The downside: player editing is gone (within Connected Careers), NCAA draft imports are gone and custom playbooks have been shelved for the time being. This is a HUGE shift in how Madden’s off the field modes work so having every old feature wasn’t possible. As I said: I applaud this — a standing ovation applause for the balls it takes to turn things on its head like this. Will it WORK? No idea. There are pitfalls everywhere.

But man…I want to see it, pass or fail. My big concern outside of AI management …I wish I had a mouse and keyboard. There is a lot of administration to do if you choose to micromanage.

Moving on to NBA Live. The return of this franchise is long overdue and while I appreciated the enthusiasm from the presentation, the game has work to do. I am very much concerned that the game was not playable at the show, was only shown behind closed doors, is set for a Fall 2012 release and is still in “Pre-Alpha”. Again everything was checked off the feature list during the demo but until I get my hands on the game it’s hard to say much. NBA 2K remains the gold standard of the genre and EA is playing catch up. The demo was mostly feature talk with only a few clips of actual gameplay and with the release coming soon…

NCAA 13 I played for ten minutes and was late to another appointment. (I was at EA for literally 3 and a half hours). I saw that Michigan was rated an A+ overall and that was enough.

In all, a strong showing from EA Sports with NHL and FIFA looking like day one buys and Madden being the wild card. I really, really, hope that Connected Careers mode works out. It is potentially brilliant but Madden players are notorious for fearing change and hoooo doctor is this different.