EA Announces Six New Games, Launch Dates for Need for Speed World and Shank

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EA held its annual Summer Showcase media event today, using the briefing to unveil six new games and confirm launch dates for games that have already been announced.

First up is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the official title for the open-world, single-player RPG previously codenamed “Project Mercury,” which has been in production by the super team of Todd McFarlane, R. A. Salvatore, Ken Rolston and Curt Schilling for a while now. Ken Rolston, lead designer of the Morrowind and Oblivion games from the Elder Scrolls series, is fulfilling the same duty in the development of Kingdoms of Amalur, with R. A. Salvatore creating the game world and Todd McFarlane conceptualizing the art style. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will be available in fall 2011 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. The debut trailer is scheduled to premiere on July 22nd.

“Reckoning is a great representation of how a team of incredibly talented and creative people with expertise in different areas can come together and complement each other so well,” said Jen MacLean, CEO of 38 Studios. “We are thrilled to be developing an open-world RPG under the leadership of one of the greatest RPG designers in the industry, with creative direction by one of the most iconic artists of our time, set in a rich universe imagined by one of the top fantasy genre authors in the world. We can’t wait to share the first details of this universe we have been so dedicated to building over the past few years.”

“In Reckoning, we started with Bob and Todd’s exceptional Kingdoms of Amalur game setting and imagery,” said Ken Rolston, Lead Designer at Big Huge Games, a subsidiary of 38 Studios. “On that foundation we built the open-world exploration, vast narrative and character customization fans expect from the best RPGs. And we’ve added something new that we’ve always wanted from the genre — a fast-paced, graphically stimulating action combat experience with fluid control and immersive, discoverable gameplay fans haven’t seen before in other fantasy RPGs.”

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Next up we have Darkspore, a sci-fi action-RPG spin-off of the Spore franchise, currently in development at Maxis for PC release in February 2011. The game will feature a campaign playable in single-player or four-player co-op, with players fighting to “save the galaxy from the mutated forces of Darkspore.” Similar to Spore, character evolution will play a key role as well, with the game to offer three classes and five different genetic hero types which can be customized and upgraded with “tens of thousands of collectible body parts and armor.”

“Darkspore is inspired in part by the award-winning creature editor tech of Spore, but also in large part from the team’s own passion for gaming and prior experience,” said Lucy Bradshaw, General Manager of Maxis Studio. “The team has combined these inspirations to produce a unique take on the action RPG genre.”

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Another game outed today was the long-awaited sequel to 10-year-old PC hit, American McGee’s Alice. Alice: Madness Returns is the official title for the sequel, an action-adventure game that puts a deranged, twisted spin on the timeless tale of Alice in Wonderland. Madness Returns is set 10 years after the original, with Alice finally being released from an insane asylum and setting out to uncover what really happened to her family. Alice: Madness Returns will ship for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 sometime next year.

“Alice is a classic fiction, infinitely rich with memorable characters, places and experiences. Our approach to Alice: Madness Returns takes this colorful world and reinvents it with psychotic personalities and pervasive insanity,” said American McGee, Spicy Horse Games Co-Founder and Senior Creative Director. “We can’t wait to share our vision with Alice in Wonderland fans and gamers around the world.”

“In 2000, we launched a cult hit on the PC with American McGee’s Alice. Ten years later, I’m pleased to announce American is back on board leading the top-rate talent at Spicy Horse Games to create this sequel,” said David DeMartini, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA Partners. “The Alice in Wonderland fiction continues to be a fan favorite all over the world. We can’t wait for them to experience the next chapter with Alice: Madness Returns.”

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The next installment in EA Sports’ Fight Night boxing franchise, Fight Night Champion, has also been unveiled. When it releases for PS3 and Xbox 360 next year, Fight Night Champion will pack in loads of enhancements and features that promise to “set a new standard in sports videogames by delivering the most dynamic simulation fighting experience to date, pushing visual boundaries and redefining the single player journey for the category,” including improved physics-based animations, a new Full Spectrum Punch Control control system, and even more realistic boxer likenesses and body damage.

“The EA SPORTS Fight Night franchise has consistently delivered one of the best sports experiences with each iteration”, said Andrew Wilson, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Development, EA SPORTS. “EA SPORTS Fight Night Round 4 was a genre defining game, and led the way as the industry transitioned to physics-based sports games. EA SPORTS Fight Night Champion will again forge new ground and deliver a sports experience unlike anything seen in the genre to date.”

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Also on the sports from comes the announcement of EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp, a spin-off of the successful EA Sports Active line of exercise games designed in collaboration with real NFL strength and conditioning coaches to whip gamers into shape in 70+ football training drills and conditioning workout routine. EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp, currently exclusive to Wii, is slated to ship on November 16th with a heart rate monitor and wireless motion tracking for $100.

“EA SPORTS Active NFL Training Camp delivers an authentic NFL experience that is fun and engaging, while providing a challenging workout,” says Andrew Wilson, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Development, EA SPORTS. “It exemplifies our commitment to both NFL football and the fitness space, as well as delivering new experiences for new audiences.”

“We’re excited to be collaborating with EA SPORTS on the development of EA SPORTS Active NFL Training Camp,” says Ray Anderson, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. “EA SPORTS Active NFL Training Camp delivers a fantastic new and authentic experience for NFL fans, allowing them to train like the pros and compete against their friends, family, and other fans across the globe.”

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Last and certainly of least interest of the bunch (IMO), The Sims 3 is getting another expansion pack. The Late Night expansion will let players paint the town red by taking their virtual Sim avatars out into a new urban setting, hitting the clubs, meeting (or even becoming) celebrities, joining music bands, getting a little freaky deaky in the hot tub, and soaking in the nightlife in various other ways. The Sims 3 Late Night will be available this fall for PC and Mac.

“The community has been very vocal about unleashing their Sims in more interesting and unpredictable social situations,” said Scott Evans, General Manager of The Sims Studio at EA. “The Sims 3 Late Night is full of ways to approach a rich, new life beyond a Sims’ normal day, such as schmoozing with celebrities on the rooftop of a skyscraper, wooing the crowd with your Sim’s band, or being the best bartender in town at the hottest new lounge.”

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New games aside, EA took time out to confirm launch dates for two upcoming digital download titles. PC MMO racing game Need for Speed World will go public on July 27th, though if you pre-order the $20 Starter Pack you can gain early access to the game this very second.

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Klei Entertainment’s 2D action game Shank has also been given release dates: the PSN version launches on August 24th and the XBLA version launches on August 25th, both priced at $14.99 (1200 Microsoft Points). The PC version will be out sometime in the fall.

“We committed ourselves completely during the development of Shank and it’s been extremely gratifying to see the support we’ve received from the gaming community and press,” said Jamie Cheng, CEO of Klei Entertainment. “Watching people play and seeing them smile; it’s fantastic to see them latch onto the things we love most about Shank — the art, the story and of course the gameplay.”

OK, that’s all folks. I need to take a breather now!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!