EA DICE's flagship military combat series continues with Battlefield 3, a first-person shooter with destructible environments, large-scale maps, controllable vehicles, and online support for up to 24 simultaneous players. The single-player campaign, which the publisher estimates to be 12 hours in length, features multiple playable characters in a structure similar to Activision's Call of Duty franchise.
In a storyline set in 2014, you'll play as a Russian agent sent to stop a terrorist attack in Paris, a Marine corporal in the Tehran desert, and as others in missions set in Sarajevo, New York, Wake Island, Oman, and Sulaymaniyah. The Frostbite physics engine introduced in the Battlefield: Bad Company spin-off series has been enhanced, now allowing for the complete destruction of buildings and scenery objects as well as vision blurring or blinding effects. Soldiers can also shoot from the prone position.
The multiplayer game features a choice of team-based options. Conquest has your side trying to claim and hold different areas of the battlefield, while rush involves one team trying to quickly advance across a map as the other team defends. Team deathmatch is also included, and there are four available classes in the game: assault, support, recon, and engineer. Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles are designed to run at 30 frames per second at 720p resolution.
Gearbox sends gamers back to the Borderlands for a shooter-adventure sequel of high-velocity combat and custom character development. The first-person action plays out in dystopian outpost environments on the original game's planet of Pandora, five years later, as a greedy industrialist called Handsome Jack seeks to weed out the local populace through a series of gladiator matches. Players choose from four new character types, each with three branches of specialized development in the game's RPG-like experience system. Experience comes with kills and quest completions.
Expanding on the original game, Borderlands 2's gun system can create millions of different computer-generated weapons, as well as shields and equipment enhancements. Non-player characters are more expressive, and quest outcomes have more influence on the game world. In addition to the dusty, desert settings of the first adventure, the sequel visits a number of new Pandora environments, including the merciless frozen tundra where the revenge-driven plotline begins. Online, over a local network, or in split screen, the game's co-op mode allows a second player to freely join and drop out of a game in session.
EA Sports' definitive NFL football series returns to PS3 gamers with a new real-time physics engine, redesigned passing, and new announcers in Madden NFL 13. The new passing system gives quarterbacks 20 dropbacks, 20 pass trajectories, eight in-pocket moves, and shovel passes, and now receivers and defenders must see the ball before they make a play on it. Madden NFL 13 has received a complete presentation overhaul designed to more closely resemble a real CBS broadcast. This includes dynamic in-game transitions, a live ticker, and commentary from Phil Simms and Jim Nantz.
The new "Connected Careers" mode melds the traditional "Franchise" and "Superstar" modes, and combines them with a variety of online features. Gamers can still control current, created, or Hall-of-Fame players, or become a coach and manage every aspect of their team's operations, but now they can do it all as part of an online league with up to 31 other people.
EA's first hockey game on PS3 offers the same content and features as the Xbox 360 version, with lifelike player models, online support, and a broadcast-quality presentation. The right analog "skill stick" introduced in earlier versions not only initiates dekes near the goalie, but can also be used to trick defensemen by pushing the puck away in various directions. The skating physics now allow players to adjust the puck handler's speed simply by nudging or pushing the left analog stick with varying pressure. Both tight turns and wider crossovers are possible by altering the left analog stick's arc motions.
One of NHL 08's more innovative features is the option for owners to edit plays in one of three phases: rush, power play, and offensive zone. Each play type begins with a basic formation and allows users to record subsequent movements on the ice and save the final result for in-game action. A robust create-player feature supports such minute adjustments as the amount of curve on sticks and blades. Teams can also be created from a pre-defined list of logos, font styles, nicknames, and uniform types. Each equipment piece can even have custom color schemes with the game's palette editor.
In addition to NHL teams, the game features 29 playable AHL squads, whose athletes can be developed gradually in the farm system until they are ready for their big-league call-ups. Online game types via PlayStation Network include Leagues, Shootout, Versus Play, and Team Play. The Leagues option lets NHL 08 owners create 32-team leagues with variable schedules and online stat tracking. Shootout mode has players showing off their stick handling skills on offense and as goalies in a choice of ranked or unranked contests. Versus and Team Play modes allow players to create custom match-ups using any combination of friends on the same system, computer AI, or online opponents.
Developer Naughty Dog's critically acclaimed Uncharted series returns to PlayStation 3 with Drake's Deception. As globetrotting adventurer Nathan Drake, you must embark on a trip to the mysterious Arabian Desert on a mission to find the legendary "Atlantis of the Sands," otherwise known as the lost city of Ubar. Joined by his mentor, Victor Sullivan, Drake soon discovers that he is in a dangerous race against a covert organization immersed in the occult. For the first time in the Uncharted series, Drake's Deception will offer stereoscopic support for 3D televisions.
Promising larger set pieces than those in the two previous games, Uncharted 3 will once again rely on a cinematic presentation that blends Hollywood-style storytelling with dramatic action sequences and special effects that utilize sand, water, smoke, and fire. In addition to his proficiency in ranged combat, Drake can now disable his opponents in other ways. New hand-to-hand combat moves let him take out multiple enemies at once, for example, or Drake can use stealth along with context-specific melee attacks. Both cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes are supported, with the developers integrating more single-player elements into the online game for a new experience.
This "Game of the Year" edition includes the full game as well as 14 different pieces of DLC, including extra multiplayer maps, an expanded co-op adventure, and more than 40 character skins.