EA’s Spring Showcase – PS3 title round-up
Along with some nice full-title surprises, we got to see a glimpse of what EA’s many and various developers have up their sleeves for your existing games cabinet.
An anonymous brick building was the home to this special event. On arrival in the far-too-hot foyer area, we were handed our wireless headphones. Worryingly, the agreement we had to sign that guaranteed these expensive Sennheiser devices would be safe for the entire day included the words ‘one arm/leg’ in the small print. We threw caution, and the future of our limbs, to the wind and plopped our trademark ‘X’ on the paper.
The opening presentation, which included a ubiquitous ‘he can’t be here because of the ash cloud’ section, saw developer after developer showing us what they’ve got coming this Summer and Holiday Season. From a PS3 perspective, we were most interested in the likes of Bulletstorm, Crysis 2, Dead Space 2, Death Spank, Shank, Green Day Rock Band and Skate 3.
Bulletstorm, in fact, drew the first applause of the day, if you don’t count the ‘we’re being polite’ clapping that preceded each speaker.
Billed as an FPS where you ‘kill with skill’, Bulletstorm looks as slick an FPS as you’ll come across mashed up with the kind of top-drawer hilarity that you experienced in games like Total Overdose and Chili Con Carnage. In the presentation we saw, Bulletstorm offered much in the way of eye-wincing humour (the ‘Mercy’ skill is awarded when you shoot an enemy in his ‘family area’ and then put him out of his misery) and original weaponry. It could be the stand-out game from EA this year, as long as the game offers a good amount of progression and variety.
Crysis 2 drew in the crowds and whilst the demo we saw was from a pre-alpha build, there are many visual tricks already being employed that would suggest it is going to be as lauded for graphical quality as the original title was. Set in New York instead of ‘anonymous island #6453’, Crysis 2 aims to increase the emotional bond with the player through the use of the Big Apple, with the developer promising real variety between the five boroughs. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing how much further they can push the engine, as this very early build certainly showed a lot of promise.
Along with the new Medal of Honour title, it seems EA have the FPS genre tied up nicely for the second half of this year. This Medal of Honour title is set in a ‘modern warfare’ environment and whilst there is a lot of polishing left to do on the textures and graphic filters, MoH seems a much more interesting proposition than that other popular future-war FPS series. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out, but the 2010 reboot of the MoH series could draw a lot of fans away from the popular yet troubled Call of Duty franchise.
Death Spank and Shank are two PlayStation Network titles that caught our interest.
Death Spank is an interesting mix of humour, witty dialogue, action-RPG and graphical adventure, whilst Shank is a cartoon-style old-school beat-em-up with a deadly array of combos, weapons and chiselled jaw-lines. If you look at Shank and immediately think ‘Samurai Jack’, then you wouldn’t be the first, second or third person to make the comparison.
Dead Space 2 seems as though it is going to take the general level of fear-inducing bad-assery that the first title became famous for and turn the volume up to 11. Set three years after the events of the original, the thing you’ll notice instantly is that Isaac will be talking – a lot – in this sequel. As well as this new-found ability to stretch his vocal chords, the new ‘Isaac 2.0’ will have new abilities, improved movements and enhanced suits to collect. You’ll even get to see his face this time around, thanks to a new retractable helmet.
Finally, Green Day Rock Band is exactly what you would expect it to be. It is Rock Band. It is all about Green Day. Fans of the California punk revival movement will love it, and the rest of us will probably leave well alone.
Skate 3, on the other hand, is a sequel that’ll make you proud you ditched Tony Hawk and his recent penchant for two-hour long flat-tricks and large lumps of breakable plastic in favour of a game that goes back to skateboarding’s roots. Except the fact is, it is the outlandish ‘Hall of Meat’ game that we ended up playing for literally hours on end.
You’ll remember the Hall of Meat from previous Skate titles – the ‘mini-game’ where you intentionally break bones in order to rack up a high score that’ll make your mother wish she’d never suggested you ‘get outdoors more and do some exercise’. Skate 3 has ramped up (pun intended) the pain and turned this feature into an addictive and hugely enjoyable game-within-a-game that we expect will destroy any idea of a social life we had left.
In addition to the full titles, the showcase also gave us a chance to check out some of the excellent DLC that is either out now or will be coming soon.
The big news was the announcement of the Onslaught Mode DLC for Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which we covered recently. We managed to get some hands-on time with the new co-op modes, and we’ll tell you more about that soon.
We also spent some time with a forthcoming pack for Dragon Age: Origins. Called Darkspawn Chronicles, this pack will allow you to play as the bad guys, walking through an alternate reality to the original game whereby the characters you may have met (depending on which path you took) become your enemies. With each goody two-shoes you despatch, you gain an encyclopaedia entry that tells you their back-story – useful if you never met them on your original playthrough.
The DA:O DLC will ship for around the equivalent of £4 and will last about as long as the final battle at Denerim did when you played on the side of the forces of good.
Which of these EA goodies have made you sit up and take notice? Which are you looking forward to the most? Tell us in the comments…