In sharp contrast to Microsoft's slower start, the packed crowd in the Orpheum Theatre was absolutely buzzing. "Dead Space 3" were the words on everyone's lips (regardless of language, since I was sat next to a German outfit and Playboy Brazil), with Isaac's latest outing easily the most anticipated game of the presser. Whether this newfound verve stemmed from genuine excitement or an extra coffee/Gatorade quaffed in the poorly-managed queue wasn't entirely clear, but the intimate stalls hummed with myriad predictions, bets and the latest leaks.
Brilliantly, Plants vs Zombies got the biggest cheer during the opening montage, rivalling even the dapper Jonny R and his promises of a humble, celebrity-less convention. You sold us that blatant lie last year, John Boy... and we were ready for the 'Playmaker,' UFC President and pals this time around.
Our depraved Necromorphic lust was soon satisfied thanks to a showstopping trailer that brought the house down. Drop-in cooperative play was formally announced, quickly followed by an action-packed demo that eschewed horror for balls-out carnage and brotacular banter. It looked great, but more like Lost Planet than Event Horizon. Will fans dig on this new direction?
"Will EA sell Madden XP as microtransactions?" muttered all and sundry, though not so loud as the hulking quarterback could hear us.
SimCity social got a slick new trailer and took a well-received swing at FarmVille, though the main event was undoubtedly the upcoming PC version. Big applause, if nothing we didn't already know.
Ex-Infinity Ward developers West and Zampella were revealed in the audience, as were a whole mess of BF3 fans. These fans were summarily praised for their dedication... in order to butter them up for the Battlefield Premium service. Yawn. Thanks to the recent leaks, even the Aftermath and Endgame expansions came as old news, though the price is fairly competitive for five major DLC packs. Even if one of them has been out for ages.
MoH Warfighter made its obligatory appearance, showing off a noisy Frostbite-powered jaunt to Somalia. Frostbite 2's sensational bullet impacts and destructible scenery made for a visceral few minutes, and we liked the multiple breaching options, but will Danger Close be bringing anything new and worthwhile to the genre? With Treyarch willing to experiment with futuristic tech and strike force missions, it seems that EA's substitute team might be lagging behind before their game's even released. Plus, didn't we already use one of those robot drones in MW3? It's not exactly a pilotable jet...
That said, the multiplayer Global Warfighters could be interesting.
FIFA got a richly-deserved shout out, feeding us some exciting social features that were quickly overshadowed by a feature-packed FIFA 13 presentation and premiere gameplay trailer. Deeply, deeply impressive. Speaking of impressive, though, Guildford-based racing powerhouse Criterion took to the stage to show us NFS: Most Wanted, which seems to have Burnout and Autolog intertwined throughout its DNA. Wrecking stuff up in slow motion, scoring sick airtime, exploring an open world and then bragging to our mates about it? Yes. Yessssssss. My iPad screen was almost completely coated in drool before the second checkpoint, and October 30th can't come soon enough.
Gosh, Crysis 3 looks shiny, and all kinds of scripted. Sort out the weird melee physics and give us some visual variety in the full version, if you please. Fingers crossed for a truly superior sequel to the fantastic original.
As expected, EA's briefing was solid, slick and satisfying. No surprises there then... in any sense of the phrase.