EA First Play tour junket officially kicks off today in Melbourne Victoria, making its first stop at Highpoint Shopping Centre. A select group of media folk, VIPs and friendly neighbourhood gamers were fortunate enough to get a sneak preview. Luckily I was able to make the journey down to be amongst the first to play at First Play… makes sense right?
So what is EA First Play? Electronic Arts have started what will hopefully be the first of many events in Australia, offering the public a chance to get hands-on and preview their favourite upcoming titles prior to launch. Instead of sitting in front of your computer scouring the internet for trailers, previews, screenshots and every little piece of information available, EA have opted to let you be the judge of the games for yourselves.
Taking a page out of the Nintendo Australia handbook who have long been supporters of early preview events at local shopping centres across the country, EA First Play looks to recreate the same type of experience which in all honesty has potential risks and benefits.
Sampling a game before officially going gold (locked down code ready for production) has the pitfalls of gamers experiencing incomplete titles that are essentially works in progress. These type of preview build codes are designed to give attendees an opportunity to ‘feel’ and flesh out what the game is all about before committing to a purchase and if done right, can dramatically sway a consumers opinion of a title they may have been lukewarm about. On the other hand, if the game is riddled with problems, it’s an uphill battle to win back confidence after someone has seen its less than desirable qualities.
For anyone heading down to EA First Play, I suggest you keep an open mind when grasping the controller to spend some quality time with these titles. Some of these games are still in development but that said, there are certainly an assortment of gems in the mix from what we had a chance to play. The stand-out for me was Need for Speed: Most Wanted that certainly kept me clutching the controller for far longer than I should. Depending on the day you head down, the staff on hand may throw up a few challenges, tournaments or times to beat to earn yourself swag for your demonstrating your gaming prowess. My best time was 56.55 sec, earning me a Medal of Honor: Warfighter t-shirt and bragging rights. I encourage you to give it a shot and see if you can outclass me because lets face it, I’m faster than you. That’s right, I’m trash talking you from your computer screen.
There may also be other goodies available from the EA staff so be sure to head in early because if you’re like me, you love your swag to be gaming branded and plentiful.
The other star attraction was the annual soccer (or football) offering, FIFA 13. FIFA 13 executes and delivers on the Electronic Arts promise of a bigger, better FIFA experience, in spite of my obviously lack of ball handling skills. It looks, sounds and handles as it should in an intuitive style worthy of being called a FIFA title. Penalty shootout was difficult for me to grasp but of course, I also didn’t read the instruction on how to shoot properly. FIFA 13 is almost certain to be one of that staple gaming titles permanently locked into the disc drive of many sporting fanatics for the better part of 2012 through to 2013.
Unfortunately Medal of Honor: Warfighter was absent during my encounter with EA First Play. Despite their best efforts, the Medal of Honor: Warfighter code wasn’t functional during our visit, however we were reassured that those in attendance from Thursday (as in today) would have the opportunity to play the shooter on high powered PCs and Razer branded headsets.
Casual gamers aren’t forgotten either with a selection of EA titles on iPad all set up and ready to go. Titles like NBA Jam, The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Mass Effect: Infiltrator, Real Racing 2 and many others providing a refreshing break from all the heated competitive gaming. It’s the perfect distraction to keep the less gaming-orientated chaperones occupied while you sink some solid game time into the titles on your 2012 wish list.
Unfortunately if you were waiting for the Fountain Gate, Melbourne event, Electronic Arts have cancelled that leg of the EA First Play tour. Melbournians have until Sunday to head to Highpoint Shopping Centre (located just outside JB Hi-Fi) before the tour leaves town for New South Wales and Queensland, making a stop for four days at each location. The upcoming schedule and dates can be found below:
- VIC – Highpoint Shopping Centre, Melbourne – Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 September, 2012
- NSW – Westfield East Gardens – Thursday 20 to Sunday 23 September, 2012
- NSW – Westfield Parramatta – Tuesday 25 to Sunday 30 September, 2012
- QLD – Westfield Carindale – Thursday 11 to Sunday 14 October, 2012
I highly recommend you get out there and support EA First Play. If these promotional tours turn out to be successful, it could potentially spawn bigger, better Australian gaming events for the community and that isn’t a bad thing now, is it?