Hated or grEAt?

-Geoff Barry

When you go through your library of games, more than likely there are multiple copies of Electronic Arts (EA) published titles in it. Right off the top of my head I can think of three games I own that are from EA: NHL 12, Crysis 2, and Dead Space. From the early PS1 days EA has been publishing games, and is currently one of the most powerful publishers in the gaming industry. What made the publisher stand out to me wasn’t their countless titles or top-notch graphics; it was the fact that they made the best sports games.

The NHL games have been above the competition for as long as hockey games have been made. Go ahead and look for NHL2K12. You can’t, it doesn’t exist because EA Canada has made 2K’s show stink on ice (literally). I get the annual title every single year because each time I pop in the disc I’m in disbelief over how life-like the game is. When I’m watching the Boston Bruins play on tv, I can instantly see how the video game mimics the real thing. While they’re having success on the ice, it’s off the cold surface that seems to be a problem. I loved MVP Baseball, and the ‘05 release is my favorite baseball game of all time. Sure Sony’s The Show is good, but to me it pales in comparison to EA’s title, which is why I’m extremely disappointed that EA doesn’t produce baseball games anymore. Before Madden became the only football game available I really enjoyed 2K’s work, and it came at a fraction of the cost of Madden. With no competition it seems that EA has lost their edge as each year their football simulation gets worse. They may have a winning formula for soccer games, but I really want more from the Madden titles. And as for basketball… well I’m not sure they will ever get up off the ground as 2K has driven them down ever since the 2009-2010 season.

Other than sports EA has a wide variety of genres that get released annually. How does Battlefield 3, Dead Space 2, Mass Effect 3, Need for Speed, and The Sims sound for selection? Regardless of what genre suits your wants best, EA has a game for it. They realize that there are millions of gamers worldwide and many of them like certain types of games over others. Does snowboarding down dangerous tracks, performing gravity-defying flips, and a killer soundtrack draw your attention? Perhaps you should try SSX. Are you tired of Call of Duty and wanting a breath-taking FPS? Try Battlefield 3; the graphics are surreal and the fact that this title can compete with Activision’s legendary series is impressive. You might have to pay an extra $10 to be able to play online, but I’ve never met someone who hasn’t loved BF3. In no way shape or form am I bashing CoD (I own Black Ops and MW3, but no BF titles), but I realize that some players are tired of the same old CoD.

One thing I don’t really enjoy about EA is the fact that almost every game requires an online pass. If you don’t get the game brand new odds are you’re going to have to fork over the extra dough to play online. I first came across this frustration while playing NHL 11. Luckily I had it new so I didn’t have to pay anything, but that was the first time I’d ever had to put in a code to play a game online. I realize that PC games have been doing this for years, but EA was the first to do so on consoles and it really irked my chain. Now more publishers have followed EA’s footsteps and require the online pass. I stand by Activision for not doing so even though they would make a killing. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way, and it has earned EA a bad reputation in some ways. However, it cannot go unnoticed that Electronic Arts can make the prettiest games.

It seems like any game EA puts out receives positive feedback. Not just from the solid gameplay, but the voice acting, superb graphics, and uniqueness puts the publisher in a league of its own. Have you ever played Bulletstorm or Crysis 2? The environments shine like a full moon on a clear night. Sure that work is credited to the developers, but who’s shelling out the cash to make such gorgeous scenes? It’s EA. No matter the game, if it’s published from EA it’s going to have graphics that other publishers and developers can’t compete with. Even games like Syndicate that didn’t draw much attention from me when first released (most of that has to do with how little EA advertised it) when I look at how great the graphics are, I can’t help but want to play it. Even with mixed feedback it still appeals to me. 

EA may not be my favorite publisher, but it is the top dog when it comes to quality. As long as I have a new hockey game to play every year I’ll be happy. I’ve been heavily disappointed by some publishers with games that I feel gave me nowhere near my money’s worth. But with EA, even if the game isn’t all too great, I still feel like there is enough content within the title that makes me feel like it was cash well spent. Usually the graphics alone will be worth the price of admission. If it’s published by EA, it’s likely going to be game worth playing.