E3 2014: Electronic Arts Mobile Showcase - King of the Course, Mech, The Simpsons: Tapped Out
Posted on Monday, June 16 @ 19:00:00 PST by Daniel Bischoff
I visited EA's booth twice over last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo floor hours. On Tuesday, I got to check out Battlefield Hardline (don't forget to read our preview here). I'll have more on that experience later, beyond the hands-on impressions that I shared with dozens of others at E3. It was odd, but also a little anxiety-inducing in a way that felt completely antithetical to the cooly-lit upstairs room with a half-dozen EA mobile games.
I got to sit and get hands-on with many of the publishers just-released or in-development iOS and Android games for the next year. While I'm looking forward to some, some need further work or just don't make for the most compelling mobile experiences.
King of the Course - iOS, Android - Free-to-Play
EA Sports took another chop at PGA-branded swinging with King of the Course and, while I'm not normally one for golf because I think the sport can get boring, quite a few twists on standard mechanics allow for a perfectly short gameplay loop and an addictive sense of scoring. While there are a few score-counting challenges that task you with getting a ball from one end of the course to the next, most of the several hundred challenges give you score targets and the ability to redirect shots for more stars.
I played several challenges where I needed to hit a bullseye or land in the middle for a higher score rather than overshooting or under-correcting. These were fun and rely on the now standard three-stars presented in many different mobile games reaching back before even Angry Birds. Still, tram-bop-aling challenges where you needed to hit the ball almost perfectly (which isn't hard considering the glowing-green flash at the apex of a swing) and then correct its course repeatedly to land on bouncing platforms until it hits the green proved most difficult. I never actually got to the end of the course I played in that mode, so it's not like King of the Course hides behind overly simple gameplay loops with no satisfying "golf boss-battle" if there were such a thing.
King of the Course was easily the smartest mobile game at EA's showcase. It knowingly twisted golf's reliance on trajectories and score to keep things entertaining and light while also presenting a loop short enough to enjoy on the cart between holes. Besides, tons of cigar-smoking business dudes carry an iPad with them to the links, right?
Plants Vs. Zombies: Dark Ages Part 1 - iOS, Android - Free-to-play
Popcap launched this sequel and tweaked it repeatedly over the past few months, totally restructuring the levels to accommodate for a wider audience than originally anticipated, but with so many concurrent users new content can continue. I got to see the Dark Ages Part 1 content last week and several fan-favorite plants will return to do battle against new enemies and the ever-returning dead. Fight on, fungus friends!
Those after-dark plants that hadn't returned in Plants Vs. Zombies 2 now offer themselves in night-themed levels. You can use the every-growing Sun-shroom and as well as Puff-shrooms of big and small varieties (and low costs) to defend all the brains you need to avoid paying for the Hypno-Shroom. Buying this optional plant will allow you to turn enemy zombies against their own, but you'll know if you need the help after a few levels in the Dark Ages.
Mech - Coming Soon
Chillingo proved a huge investment for EA a few years back, but its measure of success with the UK-based developer has been difficult to fully understand since the deal was built on Chillingo's popularity following their publishing of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope which continue to pull in new users for their original developers. It's unfortunate then that Mech, while technically impressive, wasn't that much fun to play. Players can try out a bunch of different equipment and fight against computer and human opponents, but don't expect these hunks of metal to move like the ones in EA's Titanfall.
Street Kart - Coming Soon
This Chillingo game features a ton of options for multiplayer and interconnected racing competition, but I thought the tilt-controls were a little awkward. If you've really gotten deep into mobile racing games by setting as many fast times as possible and checking in the next day to find out if your course-dominance has held up, you'll probably get a lot of time out of Street Kart.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out - iOS, Android - Free-to-Play
This Simpsons update was available before E3 2014 and in fact, I'm afraid I skipped over another game at the Electronic Arts booth in order to talk to the Tapped Out developer. I've spent way too much time on my own Springfield and love how it reflects both classic Simpsons episodes and our more modern times. Even if the show's oldest favorites don't get replayed on TV, it's great that EA developers have gotten to work with the show's production staff. I learned that most of the quest lines and character tasks are written by the folks behind new episodes running on Sundays.
Even if The Simpsons get canceled on Fox, I hope that Tapped Out can continue to share America's first family with new generations. The Stonecutters update is available now. [Image Credit]
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