In the wake of EA Sports' announcement that its sports games' online play would be exclusive to the PS2 for the 2003-2004 season, EA Games announced today that online play of four of its games would also be featured on the PS2.
The four games, all scheduled for release before the holidays, are The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Sims Bustin' Out, Need for Speed: Underground, and Medal of Honor: Rising Sun.
Additionally, The LOTR: The Return of the King, The Sims Bustin' Out, and MOH: Rising Sun will all support broadband-only real-time voice chat through a USB headset, similar to the "EA Sports talk" functionality in PS2 versions of EA Sports games.
According to EA Games, LOTR: The Return of the King will offer two-player cooperative online play in the whole of the game's 15 levels, and players will be able to find pairs, either automatically or through buddy lists, and chat via the game lobby's EA Messenger instant messaging system. There will be nine playable characters (three unlockable), and players can choose to begin cooperative play at any level that has been unlocked in the single-player mode.
The Sims Bustin' Out will also feature two-player co-op online, allowing players to progress through various career paths. It will also implement an online trading system, which will enable players to exchange unlockable social interactions (including "pull finger" and "moonwalk") and/or objects ("climbing wall" and "DJ booth") that affect gameplay. The lobby features a matchmaking screen that displays the astrological signs, genders, and personalities of players' Sims.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun supports up to eight players on nine levels, with a variety of customizable options and match parameters, including weapon sets and time limits. A matchmaking service gives players the choice of playing as Axis or Allied soldiers, and a USB headset enables players to both communicate with teammates and taunt opponents.
Finally, Need for Speed: Underground enables up to four players to compete in drag, sprint, circuit, and drift racing modes. Cars customized offline can be imported online for judging, and a ranking system tracks the top 100 racers, the best lap times, and more. Also, according to EA Games, PS2 players can compete against players using the PC version of NFS: Underground.