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A screenshot of DICE and EA's Battlefield 3


EA's brief E3 presser, held Monday afternoon in Los Angeles at the beautiful and historic Orpheum Theatre, highlighted the publisher's top franchises as well as a couple of new games.

DICE's Battlefield 3 was the highlight of the event. The game's makers provided live demonstrations of several elements of the game, showing off the capacity for environmental destruction enabled by the DICE's Frostbite 2 game engine in a level set in downtown Paris, then capping the presentation with a tense tank fight staged in the open desert. Set to release October 25th, EA will host an open beta prior to launch this fall.

The briefing opened with a couple of BioWare titles: Mass Effect 3 and the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic. Attendees were shown stunning cinematic videos of both games, but footage of actual gameplay was, sadly, nowhere to be seen.

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The next Need for Speed, meanwhile, will apparently feature something new for the franchise: out-of-car action. Gameplay clips clearly show the player's character getting into interactive fist fights and foot chases. An EA spokesman also said that the new game will grow the franchise's popular social features.

The middle chunk of the briefing was devoted to a couple of EA Sports titles: FIFA 12 and Madden NFL 12. The former was touted as a game that binds the world together by virtue of the popularity of the sport it depicts (apparently, more than 1.3 billion FIFA game sessions have been recorded), while the latter was promoted by a trio of real live NFL stars as EA Sports head Peter Moore made obscure references to delivering the sorts of "core innovations" that players want from the franchise.

While the focus was clearly on established titles, EA did take time to show a couple of new licenses.

Overstrike, from Insomniac Studios, looks to be an action game with a sense of humour and a little personality. The trailer introduces players to a team of nine "enthusiastic" members of an elite squad of supersoldiers, each with his or her own special futuristic combat abilities, such as cloaking and a weapon that spews some sort of hardening gel.

Kingdoms of Alamur: Reckoning, meanwhile, looks to offer a pretty stock fantasy RPG experience set in an open world with "potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay." Footage shown depicted armour-clad knights, two-headed monsters, and powerful magical spells. Visually, it sits in a space somewhere between Fable and The Elder Scrolls.

In a nod to the growing popularity of social games, EA devoted a few minutes of its presentation to The Sims Social, an upcoming Facebook game that will let player avatars interact with each other via commands sent through the popular social network. It's a graphical throwback, but it does seem particularly well suited to the Facebook space.

I'm slated to stop by EA's booth when the show opens tomorrow. Check back here for my hands-on impressions of games like Battlefield 3 and Mass Effect 3 later as E3 continues.

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About the Author
Game and Gadget Reporter

Chad Sapieha has been writing about video games and consumer gadgets for the Globe and Mail since 2003. His work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and Web sites across North America, and he has appeared as an expert on television and radio newscasts. More


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