Tag Archives: EA

Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free-to-Play This Fall

Big news for those looking to get into Star Wars: The Old Republic.  EA and BioWare announced today that the popular MMORPG will have its price slashed to only $14.99 sometime this August, and that a new Free-to-Play option will be added to the game sometime this fall.  The new price includes one month of free gameplay. Here are the two options that will be available sometime in the very near future.  EA also says there will be far more updates to the game in the coming months to address player complaints and suggestions.

  • Subscription – A service designed for players who want unrestricted access to all the game features via ongoing subscription or by redeeming a Game Time Card. In addition to gaining access to all game content as our current subscribers do now, subscribers will receive ongoing monthly grants of Cartel Coins, the new virtual currency that will be introduced later this fall. Cartel Coins can be used to purchase valuable in-game items including customizable gear and convenience features that will enhance the game play experience.
  • Free-To-Play – The first 50 levels will be Free-to-Play, with restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some restrictions can be “unlocked” with Cartel Coins.

What’s most interesting about this news is that it proves the MMO landscape is quickly changing. More and more MMORPGs are having a hard time locking in players with monthly subscribtions, with World of Warcraft being the exception.  Free-to-Play has seen tremendous success as of late and I believe this new pricing scheme will benefit those looking to try the game, but are unsure if they want to stick around for the long haul.

Anyone interested?

EA and Activision to Support Wii U

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Wii U at E3 2012 was the lack of support from Activision.  EA was another company that was suspiciously quiet.  During the Nintendo Wii U press conference they showcased a third party sizzle reel which featured games like Mass Effect 3, and lots of other games we had already been told about before.  The biggest omission was anything from Activision, which is the world’s largest third party publisher.  Everyone was hoping for a little Black Ops II love, but sadly that never materialized.

Today comes word that both EA and Activision have several “high profile” games in development for the Wii U, but aren’t spilling the beans just yet.  EA said they have two as of yet unannounced Wii U projects that will be revealed sometime this summer, and Activision strongly hinted that Black Ops II will indeed be Wii U bound.  So hardcore Nintendo fans can breathe a little easier knowing two of the biggest publishers in the world are going to support the Wii U.

While this isn’t exactly the biggest news, as both companies were expected to heavily invest in the new platform, especially since we had already seen Mass Effect 3, it does reassure fans that Nintendo is doing all they can to secure as many third party titles as possible.

So what do you expect both EA and Activision to bring to the Wii U later this year?

Rumor – Mass Effect Heading to Wii U?

We’re literally only an hour and 44 minutes away from the Nintendo press conference as I write this, and yet rumors and news continues to leak out.  The German Mass Effect Facebook page has a post up essentially telling fans to not forget to check out the Nintendo E3 press conference this morning.

Does this mean anything at all, or could we be looking at the series making the jump to the Wii U?  We’ll find out soon enough.

NHL 13 NEW Features Webcast Replay- Community Day

During EA’s NHL Webcast, the team working on NHL 13  revealed a bunch of new features and a sneak peak of the game. I’m looking forward to the True Performance Skating myself, and the new elements it will bring to the game.

True Performance Skating: Driven by real-world physics and more than 1,000 new gameplay animations, NHL 13 authentically replicates the explosiveness, momentum, and top-end speed of NHL players. Adding a whole new layer of creativity

for players to discover on the ice combined with control offered by the Skill Stick finally gives gamers access to the entire toolset of an NHL player.

What does everyone think of the new gameplay additions to NHL 13? Make sure you watch the video, and then post your comments below. Which new feature do you like best, and will you be buying the game on Sept 11th, 2012 once NHL 13 is released?

Project COE will bring more on NHL 13 in the near future. Please check the official website for all the new features in the game.

 

Activision/EA Court Wars Due to Call of Duty Over! Joint Settlement is the Verdict!

Finally, after almost two years of ridiculous back-and-forth lawsuits, yelling, dissing, and back-stabbing (all of which has been leaked onto the Internet), EA and Activision are done with leaking their cash to their lawyers and courts…wising up and settling this matter out of court. We may never know the terms of the settlement, but this breaking news happened just as Activision seemed to be at some disadvantages. New York Times ran a news post claiming that Activision tried to find some dirt on West and Zampella, and their plead to delay the trial has been denied and things were supposed to run on schedule on May 29th. Sounds very fishy to me, eh? Either way, Activision had a lot of bad rep with this case to begin with as they are the ones who started all this mess with their initial (and arguably groundless) lawsuit.

I can see Activision’s horns shrinking in size. It’ll be awhile until they have a halo instead though.

Breaking: BioWare Confirms Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC

Today EA and BioWare have announced a free DLC pack coming later this summer called Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, which will give fans more closure on the trilogy’s epic storyline.

“We are all incredibly proud of Mass Effect 3 and the work done by Casey Hudson and team,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder of BioWare and General Manager of EA’s BioWare Label. “Since launch, we have had time to listen to the feedback from our most passionate fans and we are responding. With the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut we think we have struck a good balance in delivering the answers players are looking for while maintaining the team’s artistic vision for the end of this story arc in the Mass Effect universe.”

Casey Hudson, Executive Producer of the Mass Effect series added, “We have reprioritized our post-launch development efforts to provide the fans who want more closure with even more context and clarity to the ending of the game, in a way that will feel more personalized for each player.”

The press release says the storyline will now take into account changes you made to your characters from the previous games, but it sounds like this will be a dialogue and cinematic DLC pack, not an extended gameplay sequence.  Take that into consideration until we get more information.

Since I haven’t had the chance to play through the game myself yet, I’m kind of curious what the die-hard fans think of this.  Steven, that would be you.

Hockey fans vote for NHL 13 cover!

I think this is a very cool contest that EA Sports and the NHL is having for the cover of NHL 13! So all of you hockey fans get out and VOTE already! The official link and rules are below:

Vote for your favorite player from each NHL team to advance one round closer to making the cover of NHL13. Vote now through April 11. Voting is unlimited; for every vote you cast, you will earn one entry into the Cover Vote

Sweepstakes for a chance to win a VIP trip to the 2012 NHL Awards™ (up to 10 entries per day). See official rules for more details.

Click here to cast your vote.

 

Warp Review

Warp (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: EA
Developer: TrapDoor
Release Date: February 15th, 2012

Parent Talk: While Warp features an adorable little alien, it also has tons of gratuitous violence, strong language and blood and gore.  Yes sir, this was rated M for mature for a very good reason.  Keep children as far away as possible.

Plays Like: Warp plays like a stealth action game, a la Metal Gear Solid, but with heavy puzzle elements.  It also has a very familiar Portal feel to it at times.  That’s sort of expected as you’re warping from room to room, and from one object to another.

Review Basis: I finished off the story mode, and tried a few time trials, which proved to be way too difficult for me.

How many times have you played a game where an alien visitor comes to Earth only to feel the might of our strongest army.  Be it a first-person shooter, third-person action game or whatever else you can think of, the poor aliens always seem to get the short end of the stick.  Well not this time!  Warp features a lovable alien that is captured by the evil humans who experiment on and cut him open while he’s still conscious!  Trapped in an underwater facility, the alien quickly regains his powers, and with your help makes his way through corrupted scientists, guards and anyone or anything else that stands in its way as it tries to escape.

The Great:

Not at all what you expect.  What begins as such a cute-looking game quickly turns dark and never looks back.  Once your alien counterpart is on the loose, he can warp through walls, and into any object, including people.  By rotating the left analog stick he can then cause said objects to explode from the inside out.  This causes a large pool of blood to spurt everywhere; thereby making your jaw hit the ground.  It may only be shocking the first time, but you won’t soon forget it.

The Good:

+ Excellent gameplay.  By warping into different objects, people or anything else, you try and traverse each area as quickly and quietly as possible.  You’re also rewarded for taking out as few people as possible.  For those asking why don’t you just warp out of the facility, you can’t as the alien can’t touch salt water or he temporarily looses his powers and remember you’re in an underwater facility.

+ Puzzles can be solved in multiple ways, further adding to the variety.  You can typically use stealth to make your way through, or kill everyone.

+ Exploration is encouraged as you can find hidden grub worms, which are a form of currency.  These worms allow your alien to unlock new abilities, such as being able to shoot projectiles or create copies of yourself to throw guards off the trail.

+ Leaderboards help connect you to your friends.  Once you perform a certain number of tasks your overall rank is measured against your friends, making the replay value higher than anticipated.

The So-So:

+/- Not the most technically impressive arcade out there.  All the lab techs look identical, all the guards, etc.

The Bad:

– The final boss is a bit of a letdown compared to the rest of the game.  Don’t want to spoil it, but TrapDoor should have rethought this.  There are also a lot of technical issues that pop up during the final battle for one reason or another.

– Identity crisis.  Sometimes the cute look is a little too jarring from all the vulgarities being thrown your way.  While the game never takes itself seriously, I found the mish mash didn’t always work as intended.

The Ugly:

“Sometimes I cry when I masturbate” – Yeah that’s an actual line you’ll hear.  Imagine what else follows something like that.

The Lowdown:

Warp is a really fun game, but goes a little over the top sometimes with the language and violence.  I suppose it’s part of the game’s charm, but some might find it a little excessive.  If that doesn’t bother you, then Warp should certainly be checked out.  I caught myself laughing quite a few times, and by the end I wanted all the humans to pay for what they’d done.  I’m sure you will too.

Average Score Scale: 7.5 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: If you’re looking to finally have the chance to get revenge on all those evil humans for torturing aliens for countless centuries, this is a game for you. 

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you can’t get into the cute yet murderous style of the game, it’s easy to be turned off.  That said, the gameplay remains exceptionally tight and addicting. 

Alice: Madness Returns Review

Alice: Madness Returns [Available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC]
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1
Genre: Action/Platformer
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Spicy Horse
Release Date: June 14, 2011

Parent Talk: If you’re not familiar with American McGee’s Alice, then Madness Returns may surprise you. The books and movies carry dark themes, but are generally family-friendly. Alice: Madness Returns, however, isn’t just dark, but surprisingly profane and visceral. Beware of strong language and blood.

Plays Like: God of War and Devil May Cry. The heavier emphasis on platforming makes it games from the late 90s/early 2000s, such as Soul Reaver.

Review Basis: Completed the game once on Normal.

Note: Playing doesn’t require experience with AMR’s predecessor. You can jump into the story without fear of missing out. Also, new copies of the game ship with a free download code for the original American McGee’s Alice.

American McGee’s Alice shocked audiences after its debut. It profoundly darkened the stories by Lewis Carroll. It was unique and original, and even now, the game holds appeal. Madness Returns brings that experience to the current generation with an unlikely, but enjoyable sequel. While it lags behind the competition in mechanics, the unique visual style, bizarre narrative and lineage give it its own personality.

The Great:

A bizarre head-trip of a story. You don’t have to play Alice in order to understand Madness Returns, but I’d be lying to say it isn’t confusing either way. The plot follows Alice in London and Wonderland, but her world is fractured and broken. Her life in London is in shambles. After her family dies, and she subsequently stays in an asylum, Alice is now engaged in therapy—but it doesn’t do much good. The world around her is oppressive and dark, and she has no true friends for comfort. Her personal refuge, Wonderland, is no better off. Her weak mental condition has caused Wonderland to become equally dark and insane. Decent voice acting, an imaginative world and effective cutscenes make for an interesting narrative.

The Good:

+ A colorful, twisted world. Wonderland has changed to reflect Alice’s dementia, showing in the developer’s creative level design. The world is simultaneously ominous and beautiful. Some areas are bright and cheerful, but quickly transition into bizarre, terrifying locales. The dreary, bleak London streets serve as an excellent contrast to the huge, fantastical Wonderland. The art is fantastic too, highlighting how twisted and bizarre the world is. The storybook-style cutscenes perfectly set the stage for a dark fantasy. Character models are uniquely designed, Alice especially.

+ Solid voice work. The narrative is supported by decent performances. Alice sounds as you would expect and the dialog is full of insane babble. The characters feed off each other well.

+ The music is eerie and appropriate for each location.

+ Chapters are long and rich. Each chapter offers a large plot of Wonderland to explore, rich in visual appeal and content. There are many hidden routes, secrets, and special items to find. The game progresses in linear fashion, but the developers allow you to explore Wonderland while making progress in the chapter. The game takes over ten hours to complete.

+ Alice’s shrink ability gives exploration an added sense of depth. Like The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, shrinking allows you to explore more places that what would normally be possible, and offers a second look at familiar territory. Shrinking also reveals otherwise invisible platforms.

+ Fun combat. Alice moves quickly and gracefully in combat. The dodge mechanics are fast and fluid, and the attack animations are equally well-done. Alice attacks with a vicious tenacity using her Vorpal Blade, while the Hobby Horse, Pepper Grinder, and Teapot Cannon provide handy alternatives. Combat frequently requires you to interchange weapons, which works well and makes combat more fun. Sequences don’t last long, and tend to be easy.

The Bad:

– Platforming. The landscape is fun and imaginative, but the mechanics needed fine-tuning. Most of the platforming sequences are incredibly easy thanks to Alice’s superior jumping skills (she can jump about four times and float). However, the collision detection and awkward camera can make parts needlessly frustrating. If you barely miss a jump, Alice hits the side of the platform, but acts as though she landed on it and transitions into her standing pose while in mid-air. This tends to result in unnecessary deaths.

– Repetitive. Alice: Madness Returns can become tiresome after extended play. The lengthy platforming make the game drag on, thus some areas overstay their welcome due to the lack of boss fights or other interesting elements. The level design has beautiful moments, but more material would have been nice.

– Shrinking offers more depth, but not as much as it should. The mechanic lets Alice find hidden platforms, but it’s restricted by invisible walls. Even if Alice should be able to fit anywhere in her shrunken state, she doesn’t always. It’s like Minish Cap, but not executed as well.

The Ugly:

– Horrible textures and other graphical inconsistencies. Madness Returns enjoys a great art direction, but Wonderland is marred by hideous textures. Some areas look unquestionably beautiful, while others are bland and ugly. The Mad Hatter’s domain in particular suffers.

The Lowdown:

Alice: Madness Returns is flawed, but not broken. It’s still playable and fun, but it’s obvious that some areas would have benefitted from more fine-tuning. The bizarre narrative and imaginative world are the biggest draws to the experience, and the game is still worthwhile for fans of dark fantasy. As an action/platformer, it isn’t anything special.

Score: 7/10

 

E3 2011: EA & Ubisoft’s Press Conference Live Streams Available!

Here’s Ubisoft’s Press Conference Live stream via YouTube, which starts in less than two hours. Serves as a nice appetizer to Sony’s press conference which follows it in a few hours. People say that YouTube’s live streaming is still buggy so you might want to check out Uplay’s link just in case. Click here to go there.

As for EA, they also have their own thing going on. Click here to check it out! Should be starting right about now.

E3 2011 – EA Announced Steam Rival

The service just went online over at Origin.com.  The idea behind Origin to compete against Steam, in every way imaginable.  How does EA plan to do this?  Well it’s pretty simple actually.  The only place to download the latest and greatest EA games is by doing so through Origin.  Not only that but EA is making Origin available on all mobile platforms so you can chat with your friends, see what they’re playing and download all the latest EA games directly from whatever platform you want.  Steam doesn’t allow you to do that.  It works great on PCs and Macs, but that’s where it stops.  So already EA has a one-up.  Obviously it’s going to take some time for Origin to compete with Steam in terms of the sheer number of users and content available, but they’re off to a good start.  Players can also expected limited edition content from such blockbusters as Battlefield 3FIFA 12Alice: Madness Returns, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

The previous EA Store and therefore you preexisting EA account will now be rebranded under the Origin moniker.  At today’s launch the service will over more than 150 games for download.  We plan to learn more about the service during EA’s Monday E3 press conference so we’ll be sure to update you on whatever breaks there at that time.  If you’re curious as to why you should be interested in this new service/store, all I have to say is The Old Republic. Nuff said, am I right?

CEO John Riccitiello had this to say about Origin “Today we’re launching Origin.com and the Origin beta application. Over time, Origin will grow with new functionality and unique new content that consumers can’t get anywhere else.”

What do you guys think about this news?

Gaming History in the Making: FIFA 2012 Will Have Arabic Commentary (+Possible Arab Leagues?)

Updated 5/31/2011: just like my predictions stated, strong rumors are flying about the inclusion of Arab soccer leagues in FIFA 2012 to compliment the Arabic commentary, including the infamous teams from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It makes sense to do this, really. What’s Arabic commentary without some Arab teams thrown into the mix? Additionally, EA has acquired infamous real-world Arabic commentators for FIFA 2012, not some unknown people. This is the final nail in the coffin to PES’s popularity in the Middle East…unless Konami follows EA’s footsteps.

Original Post: The title of this news post may sound overblown to some, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a significant move that other game developers will notice. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the Middle East, and what better way to celebrate this fact than the Arabic language making its debut in a mainstream videogame? EA is taking an interesting plunge by providing Arabic commentary in FIFA 2012. The PES series have always been more popular than FIFA in the Middle East, but the tides may turn in favor of the latter due to Arabic commentary. Konami should follow EA and provide it with PES 2012, but I highly doubt they’ll mimic their competition this soon. Besides, EA is more of an international publisher compared to Konami, who basically focuses their soccer series in Japan and Europe. If Arabic in videogames catches on, though, we may see Konami and other developers join the fray. Arabic subtitles in games with English voice acting would be the next best step in my opinion. If we’re talking about soccer though, what will truly make Middle Eastern gamers go gaga is if FIFA or PES includes the local teams of each country in their upcoming iterations. I know a lot of fellow Saudi gamers who would definitely be flabbergasted if teams such as AL-ITTIHAD FC or AL-HILAL FC officially appear in soccer games.

Source: Middle East Gamers

BioWare Announces Mass Effect 3 Delayed Until Early 2012

In what will surely become a regular here on the site, BioWare has officially delayed Mass Effect 3 until early 2012.  Why I say we expect this to happen a lot isn’t directly related to ME3, no, it means that we fully expect other game developers and publishers to delay titles into 2012 to make room for others.  In this case the next Elder Scrolls is hitting later this year so it is highly logical for EA to delay the release of yet another RPG into the new year.  That and apparently BioWare could use the extra few months to polish the game, which is always a good thing.

While this is surely going to sadden more than a few gamers, I’m extremely pleased with this news.  It means I can concentrate on other big releases and know that 2012 will start with a bang.  BioWare had the following to say about the delay.

Mass Effect 3 will be released in the first three months of 2012. The development team is laser focused on making sure Mass Effect 3 is the biggest, boldest and best game in the series, ensuring that it exceeds everyone’s expectations.

Are you pleased Mass Effect 3 was moved into 2012, or is this the saddest day of your entire life?

Dead Space 2 Review

Dead Space 2 (Available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1-8
Genre: Survival horror/Third-person shooter
Publisher: EA
Developer: Visceral Games
Release Date: Jan 25, 2011

Dead Space came right out of left field from EA, of all companies, which most people think of as releasing Madden every year. Around the time they were picking up new studios and talent for their large stables, no one was sure of their plans.  Well, EA really kept its word and had used this collected pool of personnel to create fun and exciting new IPs, Dead Space, obviously, is one of them. 2008 saw many AAA releases: Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto IV, Fallout 3, LittleBIGPlanet…etc.

Yet no game caught my attention and impressed me more than Dead Space. That was my 2008 Game of the Year.  I reviewed it for COE back when our old layout was still in use.  I’m pleased to return for the sequel because EA did such a great job on first.  The bar was already high, and I’m here to tell you if it’s been exceeded.

The Great:

+ Another great experience, if not better. From the moment you start DS2, it’s obvious how great it is.  Everything feels right. The same great gameplay is there, with polishing changes to improve matters.  The graphics also are more impressive, especially the shadows and lighting.  But Dead Space doesn’t look bad at all, so it says a lot about the work put in to this sequel.  There are cool new weapons and suits, and the story maintains relevance throughout the game. There’s nothing to hate about it, so keep reading to learn more.

The Good:

+ Scary! It’s interesting that Visceral was emphatic about upping the action in DS2, to include more sequences to make Isaac a fearsome force.  Apparently some gamers didn’t play Dead Space long because of the lack of chaos.  For many this spelled out: DS2 will be less scary. I didn’t think so at all.

The pacing is excellent, with some moments of downtime and others with lots of action.  Thanks to a chilling atmosphere and sound design, I never really felt safe on the Sprawl.  That’s a feat.  There are predictable occasions, but the mission provides plenty of surprises and exciting circumstances.

+ Begs to be re-played.  You have to play at least twice to feel ownership of the Sprawl.  The “New Game +” feature after initially finishing is great because your gear is transferred, and more hidden goodies pop up.  It’s also a great way to mop up those remaining achievements/trophies. With all the cool equipment and knowing what’s in store, Dead Space 2 feels a good deal different.

+ Better weapon balancing.  Before, the weapons’ effectiveness wasn’t consistent.  It was too easy to stick with four or less throughout the campaign.  In DS2 however, every device is useful, making it difficult to choose.  The same upgrade trees return to strengthen your gear of choice.  Plus, melee is improved, leading to more dead necromorphs and less skewered Isaacs.

+ New team-based multiplayer.  I’m honestly mixed on this.  It’s not bad (it wouldn’t be written here otherwise), but seems unnecessary.  I don’t like shoehorned multiplayer, but in DS2’s case I’m overlooking the inclusion because it doesn’t detract from the rest of the game.

It has a Left 4 Dead 2 sort of vibe: humans versus necromorphs in objective-based matches.  The pacing is understandably faster, and teamwork is a must.  Experienced can be earned to upgrade your arsenal, but I’m skeptical of the mode’s legs.  After all, people buy Call of Duty simply for multiplayer, and likely won’t with Dead Space 2. You can skip it entirely and still be satisfied with your purchase. The single-player campaign is the main attraction.

+ Special PS3 user treatment. Too bad for 360 and PC owners, but hooray if you own a PS3.  DS2: Limited Edition ships with an HD version of Dead Space: Extraction right on-disc that supports Sony’s Move controller. The on-rails shooter, and a great prequel, was a favorite of mine for Wii.  Odds are most PS3 owners missed out on it, so I’m happy Extraction is receiving more exposure.  Who would turn down another full game for free?

The So-So:

± Not much new.  The additions and graphical/gameplay tweaks doesn’t necessarily equate to a new experience.  This isn’t bad though, hence why you’re not in the Bad section yet.  Dead Space 2 is just so great as a whole; it’s difficult pin legitimate criticisms for it.

The Lowdown

As you can see, there isn’t a ‘Bad’ section at all.  The polish is excellent, as are the graphics, atmosphere and replayability.  Dead Space 2 is engaging and hooks you in from start to finish.  2011 is starting off strong for gaming, with DS2 leading the charge.  This is a must-buy.