E3 2011: BATTLEFIELD 3 Leads Pack of Sequels for EA Games

E3 2011: BATTLEFIELD 3 Leads EA Lineup

[See all our E3 2011 coverage at our index page!]

While the stars of Electronic Arts' showing at E3 2011 were arguably BioWare's role-playing behemoths Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic (both winning Best of awards from us, see all our picks here), that doesn't mean it was the only thing they brought to the expo.

We also took a look at Battlefield 3 and a few other sequels as EA continues to build the franchises that rule their catalog, and a lot of gamers'. 


Battlefield 3

There will be a lot of hype by some game sites over the course of the next few months about a perceived competition between Battlefield 3 and other war-game sequels. We're here to tell you today that there is no competition, because this is a game clearly at a level above the others.

Many companies, including EA with last year's Medal of Honor have tried to make claims of realism, but none of them have really come through. Ultimately, while there are some great and exciting and very fun cinematic moments in many of these games, they all still just feel distinctly like a video game. By now, most fans have seen some of the cinematic trailers to Battlefield 3 and probably scoffed, thinking "Well the actual game won't look that good." Well, it does. In fact, this may well be one of the best looking games released to date.


The destructible environments seen in the popular Bad Company 2 are back and much improved. Real physics assigned to the set pieces allow for different reactions to weapons that feature higher velocity, larger, or explosive rounds. It makes the battle ground a truly chaotic place which brings the first big realism element into play. That varied stopping power between weapons is visible when you make contact with enemy soldiers, as well; the game really shows you what some of these high-powered rifles and guns can do.

The other big element of realism here is in the way the characters move. The fluidity of both your own player character and those around you is a massive change from any game of its kind. Line-of-sight doesn't just raise up and drop back down like it's on a see-saw when you go over cover. Instead, you can see weight shift as a hand goes down to vault yourself over. If a character has another weapon or a rucksack on their back, those shift around from the extra movement as well. Likewise, when I brought the scope of my sniper rifle up to my eye, it was a fluid motion of the scope moving into view, rather than it just "poofing" into existence.


The gameplay was fast and chaotic, but also stayed smooth and fun. Individual play styles with the fully customizable character classes fit very nicely; no matter how you want to play this game, you can. Having not played a shooter on PC in several years, it was remarkably easy to jump into the controls and feel like I'd been playing this game for days. That statement is probably a precursor to the future; this is easily a game you'll just play for days.

While not a ton has been revealed about the single player campaign just yet (our hands-on time was with squad-based co-op multiplayer), it's clear that Battlefield 3 is on track to surprise a lot of gamers (and rival game companies) with a quality, realistic, and fun first person shooter. Developer DICE will have a lot to brag about this fall, and gamers have another awesome game ready to compete for their attention on October 25th. 


Madden 12

The yearly sports titles always run a danger of merely being more of the same, with a couple of cosmetic changes and the new roster for the new season. Madden 11 bucked that trend with new gameplay, new animations, and a faster-paced yet deeper football experience than ever before delivered. Unfortunately, that means there's less they can really do this year, and it showed in our brief hands-on with the next installment. There were really no discernible changes as I played a quarter, feeling like it was just me sitting on my couch playing 11. Further hands-on or a guided tour by developers may reveal something more, but for now this seems like it's just Madden, for better or for worse. 



If it seems like forever since an SSX game was on the shelves, that's not far off. SSX On Tour in 2005 was the last full-featured game, which came out for the consoles of the last generation. While that edition added skiers, it also subtracted online play, which fans and critics reacted poorly to. SSX Blur in 2007 was a Wii exclusive that had no new tracks and voiceless characters. So when EA announced a new SSX would be coming in January 2012, fans of the franchise, or at least of what it once was in its PlayStation 2 heyday, were excited. Seeing an early build of the game showed plenty to be excited about, with three modes and some big changes. This time around, you'll be able to go down virtually any major mountain in the world. The mountains have been replicated in detail using NASA imagery and topography data, making this the most realistic setting for a game of its kind yet. The realism doesn't stop there, with the new Survive it avalanche mode. The avalanche is randomized, with all of the snow being "real" with its own unique physics. It actually reacts logically to how you and other snow hits it, a fact they showed off in the quick demo. Big crazy tricks and intense high speed racing will be back as well, along with all your favorite classic characters like Mac, Elise, and Kaori. While our hands-on time with the very early build was a little glitchy and the controls seem changed for the worse at this stage (honestly, it was probably just too early to bring a hands-on demo), this is still one we'll be watching for some winter fun early next year. 


The Sims 3: Pets (by Courtney Woods

"There is no other game quite like the Sims that lets you play with life." That's what EA had to say about the best-selling PC franchise of all time as they introduced the latest expansion (and in consoles' cases new edition). For many, life is not complete without pets. This is not the first time Sims have been allowed to own pets, but this is the first time that man’s best friend is basically a Sim himself. In Sims Pets, dogs, cats, and horses are not only fully customizable, but also playable. At your command, your Sim Pet can damage property, find your Sim a date, or even “woohoo” with other Sim Pets… Yes, that’s right, let the retelling of Lady and the Tramp begin Sims Style. Or if you are more into Scooby Doo, your Sim and his Sim Pet can solve mysteries together. At their E3 booth, EA showed off the customization feature. While it is fun to create a bizarre looking animal (all colors, including purple and teal, are available), some might find it more fun to memorialize their own pet in the Sims universe. I know I got a kick out of seeing my pug, Gentleman Jack, as a Sim. I could even give him accurate personality traits: Piggy, Lazy, and Loyal.

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