Madden NFL 2005 goes gold

Electronic Arts sends the latest edition of its flagship football franchise to the factory.

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Exactly one week after its rival ESPN NFL 2K5 tackled the production lines, Madden NFL 2005 is itself now rushing to the factory. Electronic Arts made the gold announcement this morning and said the game will make its August 9 ship date. As a result, the game should be in stores by August 12. The game is rated "E" for Everyone and will be available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance. PC and original PlayStation versions are due in September.

The Xbox version of Madden NFL 2005 will also be the second EA title to have Xbox Live functionality, following last week's semi-rocky launch of NCAA Football 2005. PlayStation 2 owners can buy an exclusive Collector's Edition of the game, which will sport a trivia challenge, a making-of documentary, playable 16-bit and PlayStation Maddens, and a selection of "Madden Moments" and "Madden Music."

This year's Madden comes with several new features, including all-new defensive preplay controls and enhanced defensive artificial intelligence. Also new is the "Hit Stick," which allows players on defense to turn the tide of a game by executing a powerful tackle. New to the game's franchise mode will be "Storyline Central," which lets stories about a player's team adversely or positively affect its franchise.

Though it faces a challenge this year from Visual Concepts' newly discounted ESPN NFL 2K5, Madden is traditionally the best-selling game of the year. Madden NFL 2004 sold more than 5 million copies, with 37 million copies of Madden games sold since the series debuted in 1990.

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