March Madness 2005 E3 2004 Impressions

We take a look at EA Sports' upcoming college basketball game.

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EA Sports showed off a very early build of March Madness 2005 at E3 2004. Much of the effort in this year's iteration of March Madness centered on polishing up the gameplay. Like in NBA Live 2005, a new tip-in and rebound system will be implemented in MM 2005, which gives players more control over how they want to crash the offensive glass. The developers are also planning some tweaks to the defense to give it even more realism, with a variety of zones, presses, and trapping defenses to choose from.

Fans of EA's college basketball series will also be pleased to learn that the dynasty mode in March Madness has been reworked. One of the biggest weaknesses of MM 2004 was a lackluster recruiting mode. In this year's version, you'll be able to recruit high school stars year-round and keep track of news via a school-themed PDA interface. While this feature wasn't available in the E3 build, EA representatives told us that you'll receive e-mail from a variety of sources on the PDA. Assistant coaches on recruiting trips will give you tips on high school recruits you should pay attention to, while advance scouts might give you a detailed report on a game an upcoming opponent just played. Other aspects of dynasty mode, like true regional/national recruiting, will be updated and brought more in line with the excellent recruiting mode in the NCAA Football series.

As you would expect from an EA Sports game, March Madness 2005's presentation values promise to be top-notch. More than 320 real Division I colleges will be included, along with authentic fight songs, arenas, mascots, and school-specific chants like "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk." The world-famous University of California marching band will also be recording a number of songs that will be used in the game. March Madness 2005 is currently in development for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 and will include online play for both platforms when it ships this fall.

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