LOS ANGELES--I had to hold back a laugh or two as Electronic Arts' E3 press conference kicked off. Not because of its scale, which was quite large in LA's Orpheum Theater, but because it began with a video of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, EA's latest vehicular "chase or race" title that features rural mountain police driving Bugatti Veyrons.
How a sleepy mountain town's police force got itself a $1.7 million supercar was never really explained. But the hiss of turbo, the wild revving of million-dollar engines, and the road signs that frequently went whipping by in a blur of yellow only made it easier to forget. After all, it's EA's world, and after sitting through enough of the company's trailers you just end up accepting it as its own form of reality.
As the video transitioned into a live demo of Hot Pursuit, EA's Craig Sullivan desperately tried to catch up with the bad guy in a Lamborghini Gallardo, who was eventually flipped, totaled, and presumably still alive, despite the epic slow motion crash sequence that sent bits of the car showering toward the camera. In other words, exactly the kind of thing you'd expect to happen when you mess with the boys in blue--and their car with tires that cost $25,000.
The pomp and circumstance of the event came just two hours after Microsoft had unveiled a smaller, more feature packed Xbox 360 hardware, and demoed a handful of motion-controlled games that will run on the Kinect platform. EA followed suite, showing off its Active series, which has been designed to get gamers off the couch by turning exercise into a series of mini-games.
The new version of Active (called simply Active 2) comes out in November and works on all three major consoles. However, on stage it seemed to have the best showing on the Xbox 360, which was using a Kinect unit to track the demo player's body movements. The players using Sony's PlayStation 3 and Wii, on the other hand, had to have sensors attached to various parts of their bodies--and even then, the movement looked a little artificial when rendered back on screen.
Casual fitness games were not what stole the show though. Ultimately what got the most applause were… Read more