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EA Interactive Winter Preview Event – Titles from EA

Yesterday, EA Mobile, err sorry, I mean EA Interactive held their annual winter preview event for the various titles they have slated for release through the end of this year and into early next year. At this event last December, the star of the show was the excellent Dead Space [$6.99/HD] for iOS. This year there wasn’t really any jaw dropping titles of that caliber, but EA and Chillingo do have a solid stable of new games coming out that are worth getting excited about.

Battlefield 3: Aftershock – Following the success of last December’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2 [$2.99/HD] on iOS, EA is currently in the midst of bringing a mobile version of its Battlefield 3 title to the App Store. Officially called Battlefield 3: Aftershock, the version I was able to try out at EA’s event was in an incredibly early pre-alpha state, thus making it hard to judge at this point. But, it already feels good control-wise and shows plenty of promise for improvement over the previous installment. Pricing and release are currently TBA but for now feast your eyes on these lovely new screens until more solid information is available.

Trenches 2 – We already took a look at Trenches 2 a couple of weeks back, but I was finally able to get my hands on the game to try it myself at EA’s event yesterday. And, not surprisingly, my impressions are positive. The original Trenches was an incredibly solid strategy/defense game, and the sequel follows really closely in the footsteps of its predecessor. There are plenty of new goodies built onto this foundation though, and you’ll get to see for yourself pretty soon as Trenches 2 is set on its new launch date of December 15th.

Need for Speed: The Run – Complementing the recent release of Need For Speed: The Run on consoles comes a mobile version of the game for iPhone and iPad. Being that this is the fifty billionth Need for Speed game to hit the App Store (that’s an approximate guess) then you probably already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from The Run. Race from San Francisco to New York using 30 different vehicles across more than 60 races.

Tetris – Basically everybody on the planet knows the falling blocks puzzle game Tetris, and we’ve had an iOS version of the game almost since the very beginning of the App Store. While that is a fun and totally decent version of the game, the touch screen controls left a bit to be desired. That’s where the new One-Touch mode comes in. Here, when blocks appear at the top of the screen you’re given an assortment of spots to automatically place the block at the bottom of the screen, represented by outlines of the block’s shape.

This seemed like a weird idea to me at first, but after actually playing this mode I was a believer. It’s such a simple change but it dramatically changes how you would typically play Tetris, almost transforming it into a different game and bypassing any imprecise control issues from the touch screen. There’s regular Marathon mode as well as a progressive level-based Rush mode in addition to One-Touch, so this version of Tetris should appeal to purists as well as those looking for a fresh take on the classic gameplay.

The Sims Freeplay – The popular simulation series is making another appearance on iOS with The Sims Freeplay, and as the name implies this time around EA is employing a freemium business model to the game. Much of the progression of your sims and the items you can unlock will be tied to timers, which can of course be conveniently sped up using a premium currency available as IAP. Don’t fret though, once your various timers are ready your experience will just sit there and wait for you, rather than expiring which is usually the big thing that deters me from freemium games.

Other than the freemium model, everything else about this new Sims game looks absolutely top notch. It was built from the ground up for iOS and it shows. The visuals look great, panning and moving around the environment is extremely fluid, and the entire user interface is really well designed. I haven’t been very excited about a Sims game for some time, but I’m really looking forward to The Sims Freeplay, and keeping my fingers crossed that the choice of business model won’t hamper the experience.