The first of EA's one-two football punch returns to kick off football season in style. The career modes really bring it this year. Road to Glory and Coaching Carousel are deep enough to keep you glued to your couch until the real athletes hit the field in September. In the revamped Road to Glory, you start as a high school senior playing Iron Man-style on both sides of the ball, vying for the attention of recruiters. Pick the best school after a full high school season and then proceed to chase the Heisman on whichever side of the ball you thrive. Coaching Carousel asks you to don the headset and climb the coaching ranks from lowly assistant to BCS champion. The only thing that could make the experience more real would be to add a bribes option to the recruiting process. The look and feel of gameplay has benefited from another year with the graphics department, but the real cherry on top is the new school-specific pre-game traditions. Florida State's Chief Osceola, the Auburn eagle and the Sooner Schooner all make appearances this year and nail the emotions that come with big-time college football. Once the games start, there's nothing you can't customize, from your players and coaches to your playbooks to...your conferences? Yep, this year, there are no restrictions on which teams you put where, so fancy yourself a BCS committee member and fix yourself any ol' title match-up you want. Score: 9 out of 10 Game Room Video Review: NCAA Football 12
2 of 17Electronic Arts
Hands On: Madden NFL 12
Let's get this out of the way first: this game looks better and plays smoother than last year's. We say it every year, we mean it every year. For graphics, that means individual blades of grass sway in the winds and players run and cut fluidly, without some of those strange hiccups you saw in player movements last year. For gameplay animations, the attention to detail sticks out when players fight for deflected passes and bounce off tacklers at the line. Every level of experience is accounted for, too, from beginners who will go with one button play calling between snaps, to advanced field generals looking to create their own gameplan. EA's most popular franchise is in better shape than the league it simulates right now. Madden 12 is scheduled for a August 30 release on the Xbox 360,PS3, Wii, PS2 and PSP.
3 of 172K Sports
NBA 2K12: Three's Company
Last year's NBA 2K11 was our 2010 Sports Game of the Year . This year 2K has announced three cover athletes for NBA 2K12. The three covers will only be available for the Xbox 360 and PS3, though NBA 2K12 will also be available on the Wii, PS2, PSP and PC with just the Jordan cover. The first cover athlete is Michael Jordan, who signed a multi-year deal with 2K following last year's very successful cover debut. 2K11 featured amazing integration with Jordan and opened with you controlling him the first time you fired up the game. The second cover athlete is...
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NBA 2K12 Cover Athletes (cont.)
...Celtics' legend Larry Bird. And last, but not least is...
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NBA 2K12 Cover Athletes (cont.)
...the third cover featuring the Lakers' Magic Johnson.
6 of 17Electronic Arts
Hands On: FIFA Soccer 12
The FIFA franchise returns to the pitch with an emphasis on making the game more like the real thing. Realism is being enhanced with four new systems; Pro Player Intelligence, Player Impact Engine, Precision Dribbling and Tactical Defending. All four are designed to enhance the physics engine in the game and lead to more realistic movements, player reactions and precise ball control. The game we played was fairly fluid, and the passes seemed crisp and believable in their accuracy and results. FIFA 12 is scheduled for a September 28 release date on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
7 of 17Electronic Arts
Hands On: NHL 12
You remember the original Nintendo hockey, where you could pick a skinny, medium or fat player, and they all had different attributes? NHL 12 is just like that...only with razor-sharp HD graphics that look almost identical to a broadcast presentation. The Full Contact Physics Engine adds variety to your checks and skirmishes based on the size of the player, the speed he's moving and the angle at which he's colliding. Players don't just bump and fall down, sticks and limbs fly freely as the puck skips up and down the ice. New Dynamic Goalies also appear way more active than they have in past builds. The netminders show off more flexible movement than ever before, and they need it - for the first time ever, players can knock the net off the line and smash into goaltenders. Looks like another year on top for EA's hockey franchise. NHL 12 is scheduled for a September 13 release on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
8 of 17Sony
Sony Fall Lineup
Sony's holiday game slate is shaping up nicely with a host of big-name action titles. Leading the charge are Resistance 3 (September 6), God of War: Origins Collection (September 13), ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection (September 27), Twisted Metal (October 4) and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (November 1). All of those games, except Twisted Metal (pictured), will feature 3D for compatible TVs.
9 of 17Sony
Hands On: Sony 3D Display
And speaking of compatible TVs, Sony is targeting gamers with its' new PlayStation 3D display. The 24" LED monitor will feature 1080p 3D and a 240 HZ refresh rate. The TV has two HDMI inputs and one component input, and features built in speakers and subwoofer. The coolest feature of the TV is that two people viewing the display and wearing 3D glasses can see different views via an A/B toggle on the glasses. In the demo one person was able to call a pitch in MLB The Show from the pitchers' perspective while the other player simultaneously picked swing location from the hitters' view. Potentially applying this technology to other sports games like Madden, where play calling secrecy is paramount, is an exciting prospect. Sony plans to bundle the display with one pair of 3D glasses, a copy of Resistance 3 and an HDMI cable for $499.
10 of 17Sony
Hands On: Sony PS Vita
Sony revealed its' next generation handheld, the PS Vita , last month at the E3 convention. We finally got some time with the unit, which is relatively light and comfortable in your hands. The 5-inch OLED display is breathtaking, and when compared to Nintendo's DS line, it's a downright revelation. The integration of touch screen gaming to traditional sticks and button gaming is interesting and effective. In playing Uncharted: Golden Abyss, it was very smooth in swiping a path to expedite Drake's climb up some ruins. We're looking forward to seeing how the touch screen gets integrated into other titles.
11 of 17Nintendo
Hands On: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The latest installment in Nintendo's storied action-adventure saga makes full use of the Wii MotionPlus peripheral, enabling one-to-one motion control between the Wii Remote and your sword on the screen. The innovation means timing is no longer the sole key to defeating enemies: it's not just when you attack your enemies, but where you strike them. A prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword features more of the familiar puzzle-solving and pulse-pounding combat throughout lushly rendered forests, deserts and volcanoes -- but there are enough new weapons, items and gameplay elements here to satisfy the most seasoned Hylian warrior. Skyward Sword is scheduled for a holiday 2011 release on the Wii.
12 of 17Nintendo
Hands On: Mario Kart
By sticking with a proven formula, Nintendo's iconic racing go-kart racing series never disappoints. The ninth installment in the franchise is no exception, but the 3D effects lend a new dimension (literally) to the gameplay -- making it easier to judge distance and spot items with greater accuracy. Online mode, both for local wireless matches or online via broadband Internet connection, enables multiplayer races and battles. New courses, customizations, character animations and abilities (hang gliding! underwater driving!) are smart additions to one of Nintendo's most beloved and consistently praised franchises. Mario Kart is scheduled for a fall 2011 release on the 3DS.
13 of 17Nintendo
Hands On: Super Mario
The first Mario title for Nintendo's 3D handheld console brings together the best elements from latter-day 3D platformers like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy and the classic side-scrollers of the '80s and '90s. Super Mario is accessible for players of all ages, though veteran players will have a special appreciation for the returns of several long-absent Mario accoutrements like the Tanooki and Raccoon suits, the airships made famous in 1988's SMB3 and flagpoles marking the end of each level. A perfect marriage of nostalgia and innovation, Super Mario is a slam dunk to continue the franchise's stellar track record. Super Mario is scheduled for a fall 2011 release on the 3DS.
14 of 17Nintendo
Hands On: Star Fox 64
The sixth installment in the long-running Star Fox series allows players back into the cockpit of Fox McCloud and his squadron of fighter pilots as they fight the evil Andross to save the galaxy from destruction. Users can play with the Nintendo 3DS' built-in Gyro Sensor -- steering the ship by physically moving the console -- or with the original Nintendo 64 controls. The action space shooter brings back familiar faces and features from previous games, while adding a new multiplayer option that enables up to four players to battle against one another via a local wireless connection. The coolest part: the system's inner camera can display live video feeds of your opponents' faces on everyone's screen. Star Fox is scheduled for a September 11 release on the 3DS.
15 of 17Nintendo
Hands On: Kirby Wii
Nintendo's loveable pink blob, Kirby, returns to the Wii for another adventure. Kirby can once again float above the ground for brief periods of time and can inhale enemies to absorb their powers or spit them out as projectiles. It may not be sanitary, but it's a lot of fun. Making Kirby even more of a badass are new super abilities that are triggered by inhaling enemies. In the level we played, Kirby uncorked a super sword that wiped out every opponent on the screen. The game supports four player action with everyone on the same screen. If someone gets behind they're transported forward. Pretty simple and kid friendly. Kirby is scheduled for a fall 2011 release on the Wii.
16 of 17Electronic Arts
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
After the less than satisfying Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 , it's clear EA went back to the drawing board for Part 2. Gone are many of the plodding stealth elements and meaningless exposition. Part 2 replaces most of that with a heavy dose of third-person shooting, er, spell casting, as you play with Harry and other iconic characters mowing down Death Eaters and other Voldemort lackeys with various wand spells. While there's plenty of action, the game never really feels fun. The enemies come in predictable and tedious waves and the level design is pretty uninspired. The visuals and sound effects are good, and the game follows the events of the movie, but the sum experience isn't likely to please shooter fans or folks wanting more of Harry's magical mojo. This game might be best suited for hardcore Harry fans that can't find what they need in the Room of Requirement. Score: 5 out of 10
17 of 17D3
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
With a name like "Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon," it's hard not keep your expectations in check. It sounds like the afternoon movie sandwiched in between "Flu Bird Horror" and "Sharktopus" on Syfy and, luckily, that's pretty much exactly what you get with this budget shooter. The plot, in short, is that gigantic bugs are taking over the world and you and your EDF team have to repel them. Lots and lots of them. Players work their way through the threadbare story chock full of ludicrous, silly dialogue, shooting, shooting and shooting some more. Graphically, the game isn't going to win any awards, but environments and effects are acceptable, with very occasional framerate dips. The enemy AI is as brain dead as the remainder of the game, but the creatures attack with numbers -- rather than strategy -- like the bugs they are. EDF: IA isn't likely to be remembered come game of the year time, but it's a fun, cheesy romp, especially with friends, that has some decent replay value if you're inclined to upgrade all of the classes. If you've ever found yourself on a Saturday afternoon hopelessly immersed in "Chupacabra: Dark Seas," this is the game for you.
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