Traditionally, the low tech, low cost nature of mobile platforms made casual titles a natural fit for publishers and players.
But with today’s powerful processors, 3D graphics and new touchscreen controls, EA have begun forging a new wave of core games on mobile platforms.
At an event in London, EA took us through their mobile line-up, which included FIFA 11, EA Sports MMA, Mirror’s Edge and more.
FIFA 11 (iPhone, iPod Touch)
New licenses, animations and motion-captured players were EA’s core features for the mobile version of their ever-popular football franchise. The bright screen of an iPhone 4 certainly backed up those claims when we tried it ourselves. A virtual analogue stick is used to control players, while actions, like passing and shooting, are selected with you other hand. The choice of 500 league teams and 50 real world stadiums should give the game credibility in the eyes of sports fans.
EA Sports MMA (iPhone)
THQ’s swings have failed to leave their opponent groggy. Using assets from the console version, EA Mobile are launching a counter attack with their inaugural MMA mobile game. Producer Nick Wong emphasized that control has been a top priority for the development team. In MMA mobile the screen is split into four invisible quadrants each corresponding to your fighter’s limbs. A combination of taps and swipes are used to perform attacks. In our hands-on, we sampled standing, clinch and submission portions. Control for each discipline is context specific. Going for familiarity, EA have fighters such as Jason Miller and Randy Couture. EA Sports MMA is an ambitious offering and evidence that EA believe the time is right for more complex mobile games.
Mirror’s Edge (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
Though it defeats the purpose of the console game’s design, Mirror’s Edge appears to have been far more successful as a side-scrolling platformer than a slightly dodgy first-person one. Of all EA’s action games on show this one was immediately engrossing. Swipes are used to make Faith jump, duck and roll her way across stark white rooftops. Though noticeably jagged, there are reams of detail to the 3D cityscapes and buildings that sustain your acrobatics. Its looks alone will attract attention, and, in the wake of Canabalt, a more traditional platformer could be precisely what handheld players want. Get a taste for side-scrolling Mirror’s Edge at www.mirrorsedge2d.com.
R-Type (iPhone, iPod Touch)
IGN have ranked R-Type in their all-time Top 10 Toughest Games to Beat, and they’re not wrong. Rose-tinted nostalgia must have been a major part in this arcade relic getting a mobile revival. You hold the device flat, tilting it to move your ship about on the default setting. Ported by DotEmu, all eight levels from the original arcade version are present and a trio of control methods. Unlikely to spread through word of mouth due to its punishing difficulty, brand cachet will have to suffice.
Yet another reason not to buy those tempting travel editions while you’re waiting in the duty-free lounge. Yahtzee on iPad is captivating thanks to its colourful HD visuals. In this classic dice game the aim is to score the most points with the sum of five dice. You can play head-to-head or pass the iPad around, but the novelty of touchscreen dice shaking coupled with convincing sound effects makes the illusion of playing virtual Yahtzee exciting in itself.