Sega Sports NFL 2k3
Game Info
Xbox, GC, PS2
Visual Concepts
Official Website
ESRB Rating
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.

- - Vane

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