Publishing giant Electronic Arts is to provide a major boost for Sony's PS2 online service, with four of its biggest EA Games label titles set to support online play over the network adapter kit.
The publisher, which has notably refused to provide any serious degree of support for the Xbox Live service following disputes with Microsoft over the business model operated on Live, will be rolling out a number of key PS2 online titles in time for Christmas.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will feature an online co-operative mode for two players, as will The Sims Bustin' Out - which will also include an online central lobby and item trading service.
More comprehensive multiplayer will appear in Medal of Honor Rising Sun, which will support up to eight players and feature nine multiplayer levels. The title will utilise EA's proprietary matchmaking service, and support for the USB voice headset - bundled with SOCOM: US Navy SEALS - will also be included.
Racing action, meanwhile, will come from Need for Speed Underground, which will support up to four players in all of the title's different game modes. Interestingly, the game will offer seamless cross-platform multiplayer, allowing PS2 owners to race with PC gamers and compete against one another for a place in the global ranking system for the game.
Although the European online line-up hasn't yet been announced, the US line-up is likely to be replicated in Europe - with the possible exception of Lord of the Rings, online support for which has not been fully confirmed outside of North America. An announcement on European PS2 online titles from EA should be forthcoming shortly.
Gaining support from EA is a crucial step forwards for Sony's online ambitions, with at least some of the four titles named above likely to spend significant time in the top ten charts this Christmas. Given the reasonable pricing of the network adapter, the online service is likely to receive a huge boost from players keen to experiment with the online capabilities of a title which was originally purchased for the singleplayer game.