|Xbox, GC, PS2
| The Good
Loads of options/modes
Character faces look great
Vastly improved gameplay
| The Bad
Lacks more training modes
While EA Sports has been keeping their Madden series steady,
with minor improvements, Visual Concepts has made noticeable
improvements in their NFL game from previous games. With the
ESPN branding on board, they've managed to create a game that
looks and sounds completely like televised football. Players
can start a pick-up game with friends or spend many months
on the extensive Franchise mode. Or, if you just want to play
a full season without all the General Manager issues, switch
over to season mode and enjoy.
The gameplay is fairly easy to pick up. Plays can be chosen
by an on-field menu that allows you to see the formations
and patterns before the play. When you pass, you can throw
to various receivers by hitting their assigned buttons. The
pass intensity will vary by how long you hold the button and
you can lead the pass long or short by using the left control
stick when you've turned on the Maximum Passing option. Once
you have a player with the ball, you can thrown stiff arms
with the White and Black buttons or sidestep with the triggers.
You can also use boost to get your receiver/rusher to move
a little faster, but it causes their fatigue gauge to empty.
The computer A.I. is pretty good, even on the Rookie level.
They'll try to run out the clock and the defense is pretty
good, no matter how many tricks you pull and how well you
plan. Luckily, you have a lot of options before you, like
calling a no-huddle hurry up offense and switching out fatigued
players. Gamers will be pleased with the immense amount of
options before them.
Visually, NFL2k3 is just awesome. Extremely detailed
and well modeled, the stadiums are dead on with their real
life counterparts. Just be watching the opening "fly-over"
before each game, you'll have a good idea of how excellent
the stadiums look. The character models are also top notch
- everything ranging from the detail of the muscles on the
arms to the well defined facial models show a high attention
to detail. You can just look at most of the models and tell
who the player is without knowing the jersey number. Both
the jerseys and helmets look great and the animations are
sharp. Lighting effects are well used to give life to the
field. You're going to tell what time of day and what the
weather is like just by the wide array of lighting. Probably
the nicest aspect of the graphics is the inclusion of the
ESPN branding, which gives the presentation of the games a
realistic effect. Someone casually walking by might make the
mistake of thinking that the TV is on to a real game.
Audio-wise, the game is top notch. While there aren't any
tracks from popular acts, there is some of the best commentary
you're going to hear in a game this year. Both the play-by-play
and color commentary is deep and varied. The little touches,
like mentioning what college a player is from really adds
a nice touch to the game. Sound effects are well done and
a lot of time has been spent to make every stadium sound and
feel like they are in real life. Playing a game in Charlotte
will be sure to get you a trademark "roar" every
once in a while.
While there is so much going for NFL2k3, there are
a few things that could use touching up, even if they are
preferential. Animations in the replays can look stiff. While
the rest of the game tends to look and sound like a live football
game, the sidelines just feel empty. Also, I didn't really
care for the way the kicking game was implemented - it just
seems to be developed to make kicking even PATs unnecessarily
hard. The only thing the game really feels like it lacks is
a more in depth training mode.
There's a lot here to play and enjoy. The huge Franchise
mode alone will take you months to get tired of. Visual Concepts
has really done a good job in catching up with Madden in terms
of quality and quantity. In fact, you may have a hard time
figuring out which one of the two games to get.