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EA's European PS2 Online plans

Five games. What happened to all the sports ones, eh?

When EA made a pledge to bring its various sports games to PS2 Online, we all agreed that it could be a significant breakthrough for the broadband gaming service in Europe. It certainly needs a kick up the backside.

However now it turns out that we're getting one EA Sports title (FIFA 2004) and four EA Games titles (Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, SSX 3, Need For Speed: Underground and The Sims Bustin' Out). It's certainly good news for fans of PS2 Online, but there are definitely alternatives on Live that can compete, if not overcome the uber-publisher's challenge. Ho hum.

Still, PS2 owners now have plenty of online action to look forward to. FIFA 2004 will bring with it two-player modes ranging from friendlies through to tournaments and leagues, and EA promises team transfer updates throughout the footy season. Great news for Chelsea fans, anyway.

Although there's no mention of downloadable content for Rising Sun, it will have eight-player deathmatch and team deathmatch with nine levels to love and learn. We particularly liked the Pearl Harbour one when we played it, with two destroyers pushed together and gunfights raging everywhere - even on top of both ships' massive cannons, which meet over the water and form a slightly odd walkway between the upper decks.

Meanwhile SSX 3 will have two-player cooperative modes across the various race types and support for players' custom characters, and Need For Speed: Underground will invite up to four players to take part in drag racing, sprint racing, circuit racing and drift racing, with custom cars and a ranking system for up to 100 riders, lap times and so forth. We're even told that PC and PS2 gamers will be able to compete against each other, which is a nice touch, assuming the different control schemes don't give one side the advantage.

Lastly then, The Sims Bustin' Out will offer up cooperative gameplay as players investigate social interactions exclusive to PS2 Online. Like "pull my finger" apparently. Genius...

Anyway, all of the games will support voice chat via the USB headset (which we're guessing is about to get a release on its own ala the Xbox Communicator). The only disappointment in all of this is that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 isn't among the games listed with online support. Which is a travesty that we'll be contemplating in a bit more depth when we pen next week's review...