E3 2009: Monday Roundup

Not only did Microsoft have their press conference on Monday, a pair of developers had their press conferences today. Two heavyweights also took to the main stage at E3: Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. As always, the two companies were expected to make big waves with some of their announcements and didn’t disappoint.

Electronic Arts

EA’s day started a little earlier than their press conference. Their new game, The Beatles: Rock Band, led off the Microsoft presser. They even got Paul and Ringo to appear and both liked the look of the game. The game will be launched with 45 songs with full albums as DLC. Songs that have been announced include Day Tripper, Back in the USSR, and Get Back. The announced release date is September 9th.

At their press conference, they previewed games from several different developers that they will be publishing. They started with the apocalyptic action game Dante’s Inferno before running the trailer for The Sims 3 which is being released tonight. EA is looking to break into the young girls market with Littlest Pet Shop were players create and customize their pets, take them on adventures and play mini-games. They have an ambitious WWII sandbox-style platformer called The Saboteur which involves the hero working behind enemy lines to take down the Nazis.

Need For Speed was the first major franchise brought on stage. NFS: Shift will use a level system to show reputation and has what EA calls a revolutionary cockpit view that will change the way people look at racing games. We’ll see if this cockpit view can live up to Gran Turismo. EA Sports did an onstage demo of Fight Night Round 4 withAli vs. Tyson with Tyson going down in the first round. They also announced an MMA game coming in 2010 but no fighters or associations were connected with the game. They also showed their answer to the Wii Fit called EA Sports Active. The final sports game announced was Grand Slam Tennis which will include legends such as Pete Sampras and John McEnroe.

BioWarehad a pair of games to unveil. The first was Dragon Age Origins which is packed with violence and blood. According to an IGN editor, it’s the darkest and most mature game BioWare has produced. They also unveiled Mass Effect 2 for the PC and 360. If ever there was a game that made me want to upgrade my PC or buy a 360, it’s Mass Effect, universally expected to be unbelievably amazing. They also had the final announcement of the press conference. They unveiled Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s a Massive Multi-Player Role Playing Game (MMORPG) set thousands of years before the Star Wars movies. The game will be the first ever MMO game with all characters having a voice instead of solely text dialogue.

There’s lots to get excited about from EA. If I was to pick some games that I’m looking forward to, I would pick The Beatles: Rock Band, Mass Effect 2, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA has really hit on some things in partnering with Harmonix and BioWare.

Ubisoft

In recent years, the Canadian-based game developer and publisher has risen to the rank of video game heavyweight. They’ve gotten so big that their presser was the longest of the day and was emcee’d by Joel McHale of The Soup and NBC’s Community.

Ubistarted with the announcement of a new division called Hybrid that deals with “media convergence.” For example, they’re setting up a social networking community within the new Assassin’s Creed, Avatar and Splinter Cell games for a “new multimedia experience.” Ubisoft will also be developing games for James Cameron’s movie Avatar, Spielberg’s Tintin, and a new Peter Jackson project. The biggest of these will be the Avatar game which was developed with help from Cameron himself. James Cameron was on hand to talk about both the game and movie. He made it sound as if the game was part of the story of Avatar but not actually spoiling it. More like a collaboration between the two groups to get something that Cameron said might even be a fuller experience than the movie.

Microsoft won’t be the only ones developing games for their new 360 camera. They are releasing a fitness game called Your Shape that will use the camera to evaluate your workouts in real time. You will even be able to use your own workout equipment and have it recognized by the camera. A similar game will be available on the Wii which will come with a camera peripheral.

The other big game that everyone came for was Assassin’s Creed 2. This game has fast-forwarded in time to the Renaissance. The trailer showed late 1400’s Venice where a figure that looks like Altair (the hero from the original Assassin’s Creed) is up to his usual tricks.

Other games shown included Red Steel 2 which uses the Wii’s MotionPlus controllers for translating WiiMote movements on to the screen, Academy of Champions which is a soccer game starring the legendary Pele, Splinter Cell Conviction exclusively for the PC and XBox 360, and a 25th anniversary game for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

While there are some neat things from Ubisoft, there isn’t much that strikes my fancy, personally. Of course, Assassin’s Creed 2 will be amazing. I’m also interested in Avatar which looks to something so unique that it should be worth a look.

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