The quadrennial edition of EA Sports' tried-and-true international soccer franchise captures the atmosphere and wonder of the world's largest sporting event in all its vuvuzela-sounding, pyrotechnic-blasting glory. Featuring all of the 199 national teams that took part in qualifying for this summer's finals in South Africa, 2010 FIFA World Cup delivers enough attractive features and accoutrements to make it worth the buy even if you already own the club-centric FIFA 10 that hit shelves in October. Our favorite? The Story of Qualifying and Story of Finals modes, where players can relive moments from previous qualifying campaigns and tournaments with 55 scenario-based challenges (for the PS3 and Xbox 360 editions only). And during the World Cup this summer, a free live service will deliver new, true-to-life scenarios to your machine so you can rewrite history. Score: 9/10
2 of 11EA Sports
Madden 11: Life is just a Brees
For the first time, EA let fans pick the Madden cover athlete. The winner: Saints QB Drew Brees. It's hard to argue with the choice, but hopefully Brees won't succumb to the Madden cover curse . One of the new Madden 11 features we're most interested in is GameFlow, which speeds up the game by picking a play for you instead of having you go through the game's massive playbooks each and every down. Users will still have the option to choose their plays, but those who opt for GameFlow will hear a coach call a specific contextual play, along with the intended target or outcome. The personnel will be on the field and ready to go. Should be interesting to see how that turns out. The game is scheduled for an August 10 release on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PSP and Wii.
3 of 11EA Sports
NCAA Football 11: Tebow is Everywhere!
Sam Bradford was the top pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, but there's little doubt Tim Tebow stole the show when the Denver Broncos traded up to take the controversial QB in the first round. EA smartly decided to plaster Tebow on the cover of this year's NCAA Football game (see inset for a shot of Tebow in Madden 11). We got a chance to play the game and were pleasantly surprised by how superior it was to last year's version. EA's new Locomotion system delivers more realistic player movement in terms of momentum and acceleration. The game also looks much better thanks to EA's linear lighting, which uses shadows effectively to create a greater sense of realism compared to last year's more cartoon-like look. There's also a really nice ESPN integration, which uses the network's graphics package. The game is scheduled for a July 13 release on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PS2.
4 of 11Sony & MLB
MLB.TV on PS3
Major League Baseball has teamed with Sony to offer the MLB.TV service on the PS3. Via a free download off the PlayStation Network, anyone with an MLB.TV account can watch games streamed over the PS3. If you don't already pay for the MLB.TV service you can sign up for the standard ($100) or premium ($120) packages. (Premium is worth it because it allows you to pick home or away broadcasts for all games.) The games stream in 720p, and after using the product for a few weeks we can say the quality is a cut below 720p on cable, but still pretty good. There is a delay if you want to switch between games and from time to time you'll need to quit the software if it freezes. But as a way to bypass paying for a non-HD cable package, this is a sweet solution. Sadly local teams are blacked out, but no surprise there. Score: 8.5/10
5 of 11Ubisoft
Splinter Cell Conviction
Splinter Cell Conviction Publisher: Ubisoft Systems: Xbox 360 Among stealth game fans, Splinter Cell's star character Sam Fisher is royalty. Splinter Cell: Conviction is the fifth entry in the franchise and an improvement over the previous iteration, Double Agent, in most ways. The game is faster and more cinematic with a surprisingly emotion-rich plot for a game of its genre. The presentation looks and feels like a Hollywood blockbuster, with fantastic environments and a surprising variety of missions, including co-op multiplayer. Purists will argue that the game is too short and that it's more about action than pure stealth, but the whole package is dynamite, both for series newcomers and, especially, those of us who have followed Sam from the beginning. Score: 9/10
6 of 11Micrsoft
Halo Reach Beta
Bungie recently opened a limited time Halo Reach multiplayer beta to all owners of Halo ODST. Offering a sampling of what's to come, it's immediately clear that Bungie has taken multiplayer gaming to the next level. Players can now choose armor abilities that feature an awesome jetpack, an impenetrable shield and turbo and active camouflage, all of which can be used over and over but require a recharge. In addition to classics like team slayer and capture the flag, the beta features new game modes: generator defense, stockpile and head hunter. The beta also shows off a host of new weapons that are sure to please. Hello plasma launcher! Halo Reach will also feature a full single-player story campaign, and is expected to release in the fall. We can't wait. Score: 9/10
7 of 11Sony
Uncharted: The Movie
The LA Times is reporting that Sony is moving forward with plans to adapt the popular PlayStation game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune to the big screen. Sony hasn't set a date for the project, but it's surely looking at this as a potentially dynamite franchise on par with the Indiana Jones series. If Sony can pump out a movie as good as the game, then it'll earn a big thumbs-up from us.
8 of 11Nintendo
Brain Games Busted
A recent study published in the science journal Nature concludes that brain games, like Nintendo's popular Brain Age, do not make you smarter. The study measured whether playing these kinds of games improved memory or problem solving in over 13,000 test subjects over a six-week period. While participants did improve at the specific games they played, those skills did not transfer over to other related mental tasks. We can't wait for a test to determine if playing Madden makes you better at playing professional football!
9 of 112K Sports
When 2K Sports released MLB 2K10 in March, a $1 million challenge was offered to anyone who could throw a perfect game (27 batters faced with no hits and no walks). The game had to occur in a specific game mode and be taped for verification. While we're sure it was a p.r. move, it turns out plenty of gamers took up the call and one of them finally pulled it off. So hats off to Wade McGilberry, 24, from Semmes, Ala. Congratulations for getting paid to play a game!
10 of 11Capcom
Street Fighter IV
It's been about a year since Capcom released Street Fighter IV, so you might be wondering why they just re-releasing the game. Cynics would suggest Capcom is trying to cash in, but the new version is a solid upgrade that will appeal to hardcore Street Fighter fans and tempt those who didn't buy in last year. The game looks the same and, with the exception of some new special moves and tricks for all the fighters, plays the same. But that's a good thing. The biggest improvement is the online system, which does a better job of getting you into ranked matches and employs a points system that clarifies a player's overall skill and specific skill with various fighters. You can replay matches alone or with others and there's also a great arcade-like mode where you can wait your turn for the winner and talk trash as you wait to play. The game adds 10 fighters from the previous edition, and the 35 total fighters are available right off the bat so you don't need to waste time unlocking them. The game still looks great, and best of all you can get it for under $40 on Amazon. Score: 9/10
11 of 11Warner Bros.
We recently got a hands-on with the latest Warner Bros. game, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4. The game takes you through the events of each book, starting with the Sorcerer's Stone. The game features plenty of playable characters, including all the obvious selections and some not so obvious characters like Hagrid's dog, Fang. As you explore the story you're able to return to completed areas to look for hidden items and secret areas that you might have missed the first time. You can play the entire game co-operatively with others. The Wii version was more complicated to play than the Xbox version in terms of the complexity of the controls, but the game does take advantage of the Wii controller's motion technology. Not surprisingly, the Xbox version looked much better and is sure to be the choice for folks who prefer graphics over the gimmicks of the Wii. We're told someone who knows all the game's secrets will take 15-20 hours to play through, so it's a safe bet the game is going to be plenty long for the rest of us. The game is expected to release on June 29 on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP.
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