How to get yourself online with Madden 2003 PS2
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The PlayStation 2 Network Adaptor is packaged with a start-Up disc with an installation video, ISP connectivity setup, product registration and game demos. A mail-in offer for a free copy of Twisted Metal:Black ONLINE, and hardware and software manuals are also included. Right off the bat, I must applaud Sony for bundling both a Ethernet broadband network interface and a 56K modem into one small peripheral. Not every gamer on the planet has a broadband internet connection, and it is nice to offer a narrowband solution for those who do not. In the future, if those non-broadband enabled gamers do happen to get cable or DSL connection, they do not need to run out and buy a new peripheral.
After popping the Network Adaptor into the spot on the back of the PS2, tossing the setup CD into the disc tray, and attaching an old Macintosh USB keyboard into a USB port, the hardware was quickly recognized and our setup began. The user interface is very simple looking, with big icons and easy to read text. The look is also very PS2, with polygon shapes floating around the sparse, dark colored background, along with ambient music and effects.
Seeing as broadband was the more simpler, hassle-free solution, we chose the opposite, and created a profile for use with a plain-old 56K AOL account. Since AOL uses proprietary code for connecting to their network, AOL and Sony worked together to ensure that PlayStation 2 owners would be able to properly connect. The setup couldn't be more easy, really. All that was required was a username, password, area code, and the local numbers are then automatically looked up. After choosing a primary and secondary number, the PS2 disconnects, and tests your numbers for proper data connection to the network. The onscreen keyboard is fine, but using a USB keyboard is really suggested for typing any more than a few words at a time. The compact blue Mac keyboard worked perfectly. If for any reason you do not have a network connection (though I don't know how you would be reading this), it is possible to sign up for AOL, Earthlink, AT&T right through the configuration.
Once the hardware and network is configured properly and saved to the memory card, there is really not much more to do besides playing games. For some odd reason, Sony decided against bundling any web browser, chat client, or web application with the Network Adaptor. While their online strategy is primarily geared towards playing games, a simple browser would have at least been appreciated. The PlayStation 2 could make a great portable web/email machine during the occasional times when no PC access is handy.
Out of the demos bundled with the Network Adaptor, only 2 are playable; Frequency and Madden 2003. Frequency, in particular, was a lot of fun, and worked seamlessly even with 4 players on a 56K modem connection. The remainder of the demos were just video of upcoming titles, all of which will feature online functionality. We'll be covering the demos, as well as Twisted Metal Black ONLINE and Socom, in accompanying articles and reviews.
Both 56K and Broadband work just as they should, and setup for even new online users, is straightforward and simple enough. Support for AOL's over 30 million users is a very big plus, and should really help in getting a lot more PlayStation 2 gamers online. In the end, the only real gripe I have is the lack of web/email browsing applications. I assume there will eventually be something of the sort in the near future, if enough users ask for it. Assuming you can track one down, Sony's PlayStation 2 Network Adaptor should be available at most retail locations for $39.99. See you online!