Signaling the start of football season, Electronic Arts today announced that Madden NFL 2005, the flagship EA Sports videogame and the largest-selling franchise of all time in North America, with over 37 million copies sold, has shipped to retailers nationwide and will be in stores in time for National Madden Vacation Day on Tuesday, August 10th.

Madden NFL 2005 celebrates the franchise's 15th anniversary by pushing the boundaries of realism forward with new defensive innovations including the "Hit Stick," that for the first time make playing defense as fun as playing offense, an immersive new Storyline Central in Franchise Mode, where player chemistry and personalities come alive, and enhanced online features including custom leagues and hall-of-fame lists.

Franchise Mode's new Storyline Central is incredibly immersive, with realistic player personalities (including players requesting more playing time or want a bigger contract after a monster season), close to 20,000 different story types for virtually limitless replayability, a weekly radio show hosted by national talk show host Tony Bruno that includes real player interviews, and local and national newspaper coverage. The new Create-A-Fan feature further enlivens the action by allowing players to customize 'super fans,' complete with individual costumes and props to cheer on their team. John Madden and Al Michaels return to the booth with Madden NFL 2005 sideline reporter Jill Arrington.

The PlayStation 2 version of Madden NFL 2005 goes on sale tomorrow for $49.99. A "Collector's Edition" set is available for $59.99, which includes a second disc packed with classic Sega Genesis and Sony PlayStation Madden games, as well as a trivia game.

Some stores–especially in major cities–may have copies in this afternoon or this evening (call around, your mileage may vary).

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