NEWS - Thursday, June 17, 2004

Online Details Revealed For Madden

Electronic Arts has revealed its plans for the online side of its upcoming football game, Madden NFL 2005. The game, online on both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, will feature similar sets of features on both platforms, bringing tournaments, enhanced messaging abilities, and a reputation rating to keep players in check. As soon as you log in to Madden's online area, you'll see a customizable live ticker, which can communicate real-life sports scores to you, as well as updates on what your online friends are up to. You'll be able to set up tournaments either in the game itself or on your PC through a web-based interface. Tournament alerts and messages from other players can be sent your way via an upgraded EA messenger function, which can be set to forward text messages to you via e-mail or to your cell phone via SMS when you're not online. The game has always kept track of some statistics, but this year's game will take it a little deeper, allowing you to essentially look at scouting reports that should give you some insight into how other players play the game. One of the new statistics will be a reputation rating. This sounds like it will use a lot of the same options as Xbox Live's feedback system, letting you rat out foulmouthed cheaters while pointing out sportsman-like players. That rating will have an impact on how you find players. You can search for players with high rep ratings in an attempt to ensure a fair game. Players with higher reputations will also gain access to special, "elite" lobbies, where only players that have been deemed to be trustworthy can play. That rep will carry over to other online EA Sports games. Players will also earn trophies and medals, which will be on display in an online trophy case. Aside from the standard head-to-head gameplay, EA is introducing online minigames to all of its sports games this year, in an attempt to offer something to players that might not have a full 30 minutes or more to devote to an actual game. Madden's minigame is called Rushing Attack, and it's a five-minute arcade-style football game where the ball switches possession after every minute. NCAA Football is said to have one called Overtime Drill, but further detail isn't available at this time. On top of all that, EA is also planning to insert some cheating countermeasures into the online game, which has been plagued by cheats over the past few years. The team plans to roll out anywhere from three to five roster updates for the game during the football season, though that number could grow or shrink, depending on how drastically the rosters and player ratings shift as the NFL season gets going. Madden NFL 2005 is currently scheduled to hit store shelves on August 11

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