Ozzy in Brutal LegendEA and Ubisoft showed the gaming press that not only big hardware developers can give major presentations; software guys can still do it, too.
EA took the stage Monday afternoon with a focus that surprised much of the crowd. While major franchises got a few updates at the show, much of the focus rested on the Wii, and family-oriented or even young girl oriented games.
The only new announcements at the press event were for a strange mix of products. Littlest Pet Shop Online allows kids (primarily young girls) to play with their Littlest Pet Shop stuffed animals in an all new way: virtually! Bringing them into the virtual world, they can then simulate all the things they’d do with a real pet, which they’d normally do with a plushie, but now virtually. Pajama Party, the first in the “Charm Girls Club” series for Wii also focused on young girls, with a variety of mini games that once again, girls are likely to do in real life. “Speed Hair Teasing” was shown as an example of these mini games. The other new announcements took a very different turn. EA Sports MMA marks EA’s first fray into the mixed martial arts fighting world. No word on who exactly will be involved, though “MMA Fighters from around the world” are promised, so it won’t be purely generic.
Pajama PartyEA Sports had more up their sleeve with the launch of the new EASports.com. The website now fully interacts with EA Sports titles, allowing gamers to stay connected to their favorite games on the go. The NCAA season starts early, with a web application that allows gamers to build and customize their team from the ground up; make your own players, stadiums, and team uniforms, names and other features, all online right now, and import them into your game when it comes out later this year. Madden also gets in on the act, allowing customization of leagues, tourneys, trades within your online leagues and more all via the website or your iPhone. Also from EA Sports, Active, the new exercise game for the Wii is getting an expansion this holiday season, and Grand Slam Tennis is on the way.
Crysis 2’s announcement was leaked over the weekend, but the official announcement still came Monday. The sequel to the spec-pushing shooter is being simultaneously developed for 360, PS3, and PC and looks like it won’t be out until next year, though no date was given one way or another.
Brief updates on already announced games included news on Star Wars: The Old Republic, Bioware’s new MMO in a galaxy far, far away, touting it as the most “vocal” MMORPG ever. Every character in the game will have a unique voice, and hundreds of thousands of lines of dialogue will be recorded. If you’re an aspiring voice actor, it sounds like that game is your best chance in years of breaking in. APB’s RealTime Worlds is partnering with EA for the game, offering an online, 100 player gang warfare crime game.
"Gather around me..."Brütal Legend didn’t have much more to show, other than the inclusion of The Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osborne, in the game’s cast. Also, Jack Black is crazy. The Saboteur promises GTA style action set in WWII France, and in black and white for a unique feel. Need for Speed Shift is shifting focus to the cockpit perspective. Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins promise mature RPG experiences. Finally, Fight Night Round 4’s release has been bumped up to June 25th, a week earlier than expected.
Ubisoft closed off Monday’s pre-show press conferences with, well, a lot of talking. The French developer started with a focus on working with movie folks and providing a new gaming experience. The “UPlay” interface offers an in-game dashboard to connect with friends and other components of games without using console-specific functions. Product with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson were teased, but details weren’t given. They mentioned being excited to work with Microsoft’s new camera technology, codenamed Natal, to bring games that don’t look like games.
Assassin’s Creed 2 is getting a unique media blitz, with professionally developed short films being released this fall, leading up to the game’s release and revealing background on the story.
James Cameron came on stage next to talk about Avatar, both his upcoming film and the game version (not to be confused with The Last Airbender). After talking for a long time about the movie, he revealed that while the game and film will be set in the same world, the plots will be different, allowing for unique experiences in each medium.
All Points BulletinRed Steel 2 looked extremely promising, and thanks to the bundled Wii Motion Plus peripheral, will have much more accurate controls and motion detection. Real time sword motion and very precise aiming was shown during a gameplay trailer, and a constant 60 frames per second was touted.
Soccer star Pele came out to announce Wii-exclusive Academy of Champions, a tutorial-filled, well, soccer game. He hopes it will bring more kids to the great game of Futbol, especially those in America.
Splinter Cell: Conviction was shown for the second time Monday, after debuting at Microsoft’s Keynote, and still looked quite cool. They also made sure the public new the game is coming to both Xbox 360 and PC.
Footage from upcoming Real Time Strategy game, Ruse was shown, though it looked very familiar to those who watched the footage at or around GDC. Obviously, this is because it was the same footage.
“Tweens” seem to be a big target demographic for developers this week, as Ubisoft brought them front and center, focusing on their edutainment/bizarre kid-related activity IMAGINE series. New titles will take advantage of new technologies, like the DSi’s camera being used for a game called Style Labs Makeup, obviously being marketed to middle aged men.
Your Shape is a fitness game being designed to compete directly with EA Sports Active, and is due out this fall. The game will ship for Wii with its own camera peripheral that invokes thoughts of Microsoft’s announcement early in the day. Nintendo and Ubisoft will likely have other games using the camera coming soon.
Surprising no one, the highly successful Rabbids franchise continues to roll on. Rabbids Go Home takes the Rabbids on a stuff collecting mission so they can return to their apparently native Moon. The game seems to be a Katamari-style junk collecting game.
Backgrounds from All Points BulletinIn this, the 25th Anniversary year of the group, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are getting a new game. The previously announced TMNT: Smash Up was shown. The Smash Bros. style fighter comes out September 22, and features April O’Neill with a Katana.
“No More Heroes 2” was confirmed briefly. Then a game code-named “Eden” was teased, but that’s it. Nothing was actually said about the game, other than that codename. Then Assassin’s Creed finally showed up.
November 17th is the official release date for the sequel. The footage shown featured familiar gameplay in a new, exciting setting. Muskets, and hidden guns, are new to the game. More to come on the anticipated second game in the franchise from the show floor this week.
So, how did EA and Ubisoft do? Well, there wasn’t much in the way of surprises from either company. They both gave some new information about upcoming releases, though, and look like they’re offerings on the floor will be fun to check out.
Later today, we have Nintendo and Sony, coming to take on Microsoft, and more software-only conferences on Wednesday.Related: E3: Microsoft Kicks off the Keynotes