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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

E3: EA’s new “Madden,” “Need for Speed” and more

LOS ANGELES — Here’s a screenshot from “Madden NFL 12,” which EA is releasing Aug. 30. Highlights include new fidelity — the company is showing off realistic turf, among other things — and a new fantasy football feature that will let people assemble teams and buy and trade players.

maddenhassel.jpg

EA Chief Executive John Riccitello joked about Microsoft’s big press event a few hours earlier, saying EA won’t have a fancy stage or celebrities. But it brought three NFL players —

Baltimore’s Ray Lewis, Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis and Green Bay’s Clay Matthews — on stage when the new “Madden” game was shown.

Then a few minutes later he extended a welcome to Microsoft Interactive Entertainment President Don Mattrick, who was in the audience and briefly shown on the large screen.

EA started its press conference with a trailer of “Mass Effect 3,” the final episode of a sci-fi action franchise, which goes on sale March 6, 2012.

The company followed up with a thrilling demo of “Need for Speed: The Run,” a gritty new version of the company’s racing franchise. It takes players on a race from San Francisco to New York, during which they periodically get out of the car for on-foot action.

During a demo — by Jason DeLong of EA’s Black Box studio in Vancouver, B.C. — the character raced across rooftops while being chased and shot at by a helicopter, then kicked a policeman aside and drove off in his car, taking the game into “Grand Theft Auto” territory to huge applause from the crowd at the Orpheum Theater.

Next up was “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” a highly anticipated online multiplayer game based on the movies. The company didn’t say when it will be released, though, so perhaps it’s not going to release this year. Or maybe it’s being held back to give room to the Kinect Star Wars game.

In the meantime, EA’s releasing a vivid new version of its SSX snowboarding game with mountain landscapes based on NASA satellite images.

“We will let players explore and drop into every major mountain range on the planet,” said Peter Moore, president of EA Sports.

The company is emphasizing its new online services, including its new Origin game network, and a new “Football Club” based on its FIFA 12 soccer game. The Football Club will feature new content and challenges based on the week’s live FIFA matches. It’s also multiplatform, working with consoles and mobile platforms, including Apple’s iOS.

EA already has provided a lot of details of “Battlefield 3,” the company’s military shooter with a modern setting that goes on sale Oct. 25, so it mostly gave an extensive demo of the game’s armor sequence. It also showed a video of a multiplayer session set in Paris.

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