I’ve just had a nightmarish vision of the future, dear readers, and I thought I’d share it with you.
As you all know, EA has made a triumphant return to the Mac with three spectacular games (well two spectacular ones and Harry Potter, but let’s not split hairs).
Thanks to its investment in Cider technology, EA can take its PC titles and ‘wrap’ them in Mac code; slashing the development time for Mac games and making Mac gaming once again a viable opportunity. I’ve already tested EA’s Command & Conquer 3 (excellent, expect a full review soon) and thought I’d turn my attention to its other new game, Battlefield 2142.
This, taken from the press release, is the plot:
“The year is 2142, and the dawn of a new Ice age has thrown the world into a panic. The math is simple and brutal: The soil not covered by ice can only feed a fraction of the Earth's population. Some will live, most will die … Massive battle Mechs wage fierce combat on the ground, while futuristic aircraft rule the skies.”
Imagine my surprise when – in amongst the fierce fighting of this futuristic dystopia – I round a corner in a cyber-jeep and see a 100 foot tall advert for The Bourne Ultimatum DVD, which informs me that it’s out on 10 December, no less. As I wander though the game (open mouthed) I see adverts on the walls of smashed out buildings; adverts on billboards next to burnt out cars; adverts literally everywhere… all of them advertising The Bourne Ultimatum DVD (out 10 December).
I must admit this somewhat prevented me from believing in this futuristic dystopia. Unless you manage to convince yourself that the only things that have survived the oncoming Ice Age are A) Battle Mechs, B) DVD Players and C) 35 year’s worth of unsold copies of The Bourne Ultimatum DVDs; you are going to struggle with this game.
EA would do right to remember that some things are more important than advertising money; and I’d say that visual aesthetics are one of those things. Especially when I’m being asked to pay £30 to play a game.
Sadly I couldn’t get a shot of the offending advert because (and here’s a PC throwback) you can only get screen grabs by pressing the Print Screen key, which doesn’t exist on a Mac keyboard. Attaching a PC keyboard and pressing Print Screen caused a crash.
It turns out that EA has included ‘dynamic in game advertising’ that changes the adverts in the game remotely. Wikipedia has this shot of it advertising the Ghost Rider DVD. It’s also had adverts for Lloyds TSB, rather oddly.
All this would also explain why to start the game I had to set up an account and my postcode before it would let me play.
The most nightmarish thing about Battlefield 2142 isn’t the ham-fisted plot, or futuristic urban chaos – it’s the freakish advertising scheme that EA has put in it. If that’s the future for gaming on a Mac then I’m scared.
I was going to review Battlefield 2142 but this advertising business has offended me to the point where I can’t honestly play it fairly, although it is – by all accounts – quite good. I’ll review Command & Conquer 3 instead.
Note: I was originally spitting feathers over this so much that I wrote The Bourne Supremacy instead of The Bourne Ultimatum and didn't realise till I was going home and saw the advert again in the real world. I've also discovered that EA is peppering all of its titles with this kind of advertising, and I'm by no means the only person unimpressed.