On Friday the lovely girls from EA’s Australian offices came over to the sunny side of the ditch to allow us Kiwi’s some hands on time with EA’s most anticipated upcoming titles.  I was fortunate enough to get along and have a little play.  Whilst these events don’t really allow you to immerse yourself in the games, they do give you a hint at what to expect from the full product.

The first game to be sampled was Mass Effect 3.  I’m not a Mass Effect 3 fan, and in-fact passed Mass Effect 2 over to another reviewer after getting bored of sitting through too many very nicely rendered cut scenes.  It seemed to me that the game was a little to involved in it’s own story.  The snippet of Mass Effect 3 that I got to play through had very little in cut scenes and focussed on the FPS mechanics of the game.  Seeing as it’s not a hard core FPS, the game felt a little weak – as did the weapons – but did the job, and with the inclusion of a solid story and maybe some RPG elements could make for an interesting game when it’s released next year.

Next up was FIFA 12 which was as usual fun to play, but as with the recently released Madden NFL 12, the AI seems to have been tweaked and it was all I could do to hold of to a draw.  With the game being released shortly, it was probably the only finished code that I got to play with.  As you’d expect from a long running EA title, it looks fantastic and the play was smooth.

Then came Need For Speed: The Run, and again, only a snippet of the game, with a pure point to point race through the mountains.  It was a fun little diversion, but lacked a little something.  But I was promised that more details would be revealed soon that would make the game a lot more interesting.  It’s one game that I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Finally, and essentially the main reason I endured Auckland’s shoddy public transport for over an hour just to get to the city for, I got to play the first part of Operation Guillotine from the forthcoming Battlefield 3 game.  It was a short, simple and predictable mission beginning, and made me wish I’d taken my Turtle beach headset along with me so I could focus on the game audio and not get distracted by a bunch of fools complaining about how it was too difficult to see who was the enemy and who was on your team.  They were obviously Halo junkies and needed colour coded enemies to be able to play the game.  For me, and most other modern FPS fans, we’re acutely aware that in a realistic shooter, especially when playing a night mission,  knowing where the rest of your squad is, is essential, and yes, your opposition won’t always be waving a flag and crying ‘It’s me you should be shooting at.’  Graphically the game looked good.  The audio was a little hard to really focus on, and the game mechanics were solid.  Being able to go prone and taking controlled shots at the enemy was essential as the recoil on the guns meant that you couldn’t just run into battle spraying a whole clip and expect to hit anything.  If the small play through was anything to go by, Battlefield 3 is going to be a serious contender and give the entrenched COD series a real run for it’s money.

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