FIFA, EA Sports’ bread and butter, was predictably announced, no doubt to the rabid delight of soccer fans everywhere. FIFA 12 isn’t just going to be out on PC of course – if FIFA 11 is anything to go by, you’ll be able to play the next one on every device you own, down to your washing machine. Precision dribbling (allowing players to scamper around the defenders like Ronaldo after ballet lessons) and a player impact engine (that accurately models breath-stealing heavy tackles and dirty, sneaky hair pulling and fouls) are the main new features announced. FIFA 12 is still in Alpha at the moment.
The EA Sports Football Club is a new innovation that will allow friends to play one another in a global leaderboard. Matt Bilbey, Vice President and GM, Football for EA Sports calls it “A revolutionary way for fans to compete with players from around the world”. Here are some of the good bits: Each player will establish a cross-platform identity, meaning that whether you’re playing FIFA 12 on the PC, Xbox or even Facebook, you’re still playing the same ‘character’. Pick a team, and any victories you win will aid your team in a persistent world, with league tables that are based on the successes of every player worldwide who plays FIFA as that team. Real-world events will create short-lived challenges, maybe to avenge a recent defeat suffered by your real-world team. So even if Wigan Wanderers get stuffed by Cowdenbeath in the Jewson South Western, you may be given the chance to replay that fateful match and pull back glory in videogameland.
The Sims Social was a big, new announcement. EA are bringing the successful Sims franchise to Facebook, trying to fill a market traditionally dominated by farmers and mafiosi. The idea seems to be that you can create a Sim character to represent you in Facebook, and to live and play in the classic Sims style with your Facebook buddies. So you’re going onto Facebook to play at being yourself ina videogame where other people who are your real-world friends are also playing at being themselves. So, where is the dividing line between real life and videogames? Back when I was a kid, you could tell the difference.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the hotly anticipated fantasy RPG, is certainly looking to be taking shape. Curt Schilling, the founder of 38 Studios, calls it “A world of infinite possibility and endless choice”. But then again, he would, wouldn’t he? Mind you, with the creative minds of Oblivion and Morrowind creator Ken Rolston, Spawn mastermind Todd Macfarlane and veteran fantasy novelist R.A. Salvatore steering the boat, it’s difficult to see how this one can possibly go wrong. It looks to be an epic, high-fantasy smorgasbord along the lines of the Witcher 2 and Dragon Age. Fancy finishing moves, snazzy magic effects... oh, and of course, enormous, scyscraper-sized monsters.