PS2 HDD arrives stateside in March '04

Sony Computer Entertainment America has revealed that the PS2's 40Gb hard disk add-on is set to be released in the US next March, priced $99 (£62 / €89) and shipping with Final Fantasy XI "pre-installed".

After Square Enix's ambitious MMORPG (which will support cross-platform PS2/PC play), SOCOM II and Syphon Filter will be the next games to take advantage of the HDD's storage capabilities, with downloadable content planned for both.

The long-awaited hard disk add-on, which will connect to the existing Network Adapter hardware and slot into the unoccupied bay running along one side of the console, will allow the PS2 to offer more of the options that Xbox owners already enjoy - namely faster loading times, custom game soundtracks and the ability to download supplementary game content.

The HDD will also ship with various demos installed, a "games manager" for browsing stored data, and a new custom PS2 media player, which will be able to handle MP3 and CD playback, and digital photo management.

Of course there's currently no word on a European release date, but given the difference between PS2 Online systems over there and over here, it might be a little while yet.

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