E3 2010 Day One Quick Impressions

Posted June 15th, 2010 at 8:58 pm

In lieu of full impressions postings this evening, as I don’t feel I have had enough time on the games yet to go that far, I wanted to at least drop some early thoughts and observations. Still working on videos and will get the Padrecast up very late tonight or in the morning.

NCAA Football 11
The build on hand is basically the final build, and in comparison the demo comes from about two months back. Unfortunately not having played the demo yet I can’t really analyze the differences between them but plan to do so once back home.

NCAA definitely plays like it is in shape to release. I really enjoyed my time with it, the presentation comes across nicely even though they clearly have room to improve on it. The replays in particular are excellent.

The advancements in locomotion really come through, I don’t think I’ve ever loved running the ball as much as I did in the game today. I actually preferred running the ball to passing because of how much fun it was. The player control feels right on at least as the ball carrier, presenting all sorts of opportunities to make big plays that otherwise never would’ve developed. It is great to have the ability to cutback and extend a play.

On defense I had trouble adjusting to the locomotion. In several instances I just ran right by the ball carrier. I would imagine this is something that one will get accustomed to and compensate by making sure tackles and approaching ball carriers a little more cautiously. Pass rush from the front four was not terribly effective, and blitzing maybe seemed to take a little long to get there, but I can’t say whether those are problems based on the short time I had to play.

I really liked the no-huddle, which pulls up the full playbook in the formation to choose from. Being able to hurry up and even snap before the defense is ready, adds a new element to the game.

NCAA still has a clear slant favoring the offense. This is especially the case now since you have to respect the opponent’s running game more so than before, which opens up the passing game more. On a few occasions passes were caught in situations that would most likely have resulted in the ball being batted down, and passes dropped that really shouldn’t have been. Working the middle of the field, and deep passes, were most often successful. Curl or out routes on the outside much more dangerous.

Madden 11
I went from playing NCAA to playing Madden and in that sense it felt like a letdown. The presentation has some similar elements in regards to the replays, though I wasn’t as impressed with the actual replays or their frequency. Lacking the ESPN integrated presentation the whole thing falls a little flat.

Gus Johnson sounds great on big plays, that was about all I could hear of the commentary though given the state of the show floor. When I was able to get a little more I noticed some dead periods, but again I can’t properly evaluate the audio.

The gameplay feels similar to NCAA, except like last year Madden plays slower. Last year I was a proponent of the slower game speed, and maybe it is because I played one after the other, but it almost seemed a little too slow. I’m not sure I should be saying that though given Jerkfacefave returned two kicks on me with Percy Harvin. Once he was in the open field I was toast. So it isn’t necessarily the balance in ratings but maybe an overall sense that the game moves a tad slow.

Maybe it can be attributed to the game speed but the gameplay feels somewhat deliberate, it doesn’t have quite the same element of “anything can happen” that NCAA does.

GameFlow definitely improves the pacing of games, so I can see many using and enjoying the feature especially when tied in with GamePlan. In my first drive though it called two straight WR reverses for Housh so I had to audible out. I’m told that GamePlan would solve something like that, but I don’t see why it would happen regardless. I do like the new audible setup, which makes it much nicer to use along with GameFlow as it presents different types of plays to move into.

The new kicking meter seems really easy but I did notice some people missing field goals. We didn’t have any trouble nailing near full power and near perfect accuracy on most kicks though.

It is just too early for me to make any determinations on how Madden will be received. To me, after the short time with it, I just didn’t find anything terribly compelling about it. This seemed especially to be the case when put right up against NCAA. All things equal I tend to enjoy Madden more because I heavily lean towards the NFL over college football. My gut feeling though after having played both is that I’m going to get more value out of NCAA.

EA Sports MMA
It takes a little while to get used to the controls for EA Sports MMA, that will be especially true for veterans of UFC. The controls are much more accessible though and feel as though they’ll come more naturally over time. While I tend not to like using the right analog for primary functions I thought it worked well in MMA, more so than I did in Fight Night.

While the controls were designed with accessibility in mind, there may be some elements are just too simple. Holding one button to transition makes it really easy to pull them off but also means there is less skill involved. The same thinking may be applied to takedowns as well.

I was really impressed with how the game looks in motion. The fighters move realistically, the fights are paced really well, and when on the ground the transitions and submissions look really fluid and realistic.

It may affect that state of immersion when it comes to the submissions though in that the game basically goes into X-Ray mode on the area of the body that pressure is being applied to. I thought it was cool to see, but in a game where everything else is being replicated true to life I could understand some questioning its inclusion.

Probably the biggest complaint in regards to the EA MMA videos that have been released has been that the striking didn’t seem to project much force. Playing the game though you actually feel those strikes make contact, so there is more to them than may come across on video.

My only issue is that the fighter’s strikes seem to be a little too deliberate, a little too slow. The movement feels good but the strikes feel sluggish at times. That may relate largely to stamina, but even when tired it seems a bit drastic.

We found it difficult to put combos together that include both punches and kicks. There is maybe a lack of fluidity in going from one to the other, and that is certainly more pronounced when fatigued but I don’t believe it could be chalked up to just that.

Overall very impressed by EA Sports MMA especially considering there are still four months to go. Given how much it has advanced over the last few months there is definitely reason to be encouraged and even excited about its prospects.

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