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E3 2010: EA Press Conference

In hot pursuit...

The world's second largest publisher demonstrated a drive to take the top spot today, showing off an impressive slate of titles at its annual E3 press conference. Racing, shooting, sports, simulation - EA touted a massive line up of games spanning a multitude of genres and tastes. Pledging a commitment to quality, EA backed up the claim by showing new iterations of popular franchises including Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Dead Space 2, and Medal of Honor.

CEO John Riccitello insisted the company is focused entirely on quality, a point made salient with the official announcement of Criterion Games' work on the newest Need for Speed game. Subtitled Hot Pursuit, it's hoped the game will reset a franchise that has suffered increasing critical scepticism in the past few years. While a seemingly complicated new multiplayer set up is worrying, the return to the series's roots with high-speed cop chases is promising. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit will be available for PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 16.

A little more than a couple months later, Dead Space 2 will debut on January 25. The ultra-violent survival-horror sequel stunned with a combination of slick visuals and jarring scenarios. Having been previously announced, it wasn't a surprised, but the footage shown puts Dead Space 2 at the top of EA's catalogue.

Medal of Honor had a difficult time punctuating the excitement for Dead Space 2, although a live 18-player match reiterated EA's insistence on competing with Activision's Call of Duty series. The multiplayer segment of the game is being handled not by EA Los Angeles, but Battlefield series developer DICE. Splitting development duties is a risky move - particularly given EA Los Angeles' questionable treatment of earlier instalments - yet with DICE handling multiplayer you'll be able to make up your own mind about the game when the multiplayer beta starts on June 21.

A new EA-specific loyalty program, Gun Club, intends to reward you for playing these games the company announced. Starting with Medal of Honor, you'll be able to earn early access to betas, special announcements, and events. The program will seemingly only involve EA's hardcore games including Medal of Honor and Dead Space 2.

It doesn't seem as though Gun Club will extend to games developed externally, namely Crysis 2 and over-the-top shooter Bulletstorm. The former had a spectacular live showing, capped off with news of stereoscopic 3D support on all platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. Bulletstorm was less impactful. The original game from Epic Games and European shop People Can Fly is a mess of bodies and bullets. Think Gears of War meets Just Cause. It looks like mindless fun, but nowhere near as intriguing as Crytek's shooter. Bulletstorm is set for release on February 22.

Also announced was an expansion pack, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam for later this year, though no details were provided. EA Sports MMA will be out October 19 of this year, following an August debut for Madden NFL 11. Lastly, BioWare unveiled a new trailer for massively multiplayer online game Star Wars: The Old Republic and confirmed plans for PvP. No release date - not even a general time frame for launch - was tendered.

While it seems evident that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Dead Space 2, and Crysis 2 lead an impressive pack, expect in-depth analysis of EA's E3 line up in the coming days as we go hands-on with the games.

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