Monday, November 18, 2002.
by VAN

NFL 2K3 Box art When I was first handed this game and asked to write up a review, I cringed. As many of you know by now, I am not the world?s biggest sports fan?let alone sports game fan. I put off reviewing this game for at least a week, just because I knew I would not enjoy it. I don?t know pass rushing from my elbow, nor a linebacker from a line drive.

Putting aside my painfully obvious dislike for the sports genre, I popped this disc in and proceeded to go head to head against the computer. I chose the Cardinals?just because they had cool outfits, and the computer played as the Lions?I think.

To my amazement, I actually enjoyed my time with this game. The visuals are absolutely amazing, and the controls were easy for even a non-sportsfan such as myself to pick up.

The game is great fun playing against the AI teams, but truly shines in online multi-player mode. There is nothing quite like going head to head with a living, breathing human opponent, and thanks to Xbox Live, what was once a dream is now a reality.

Whether you are a die hard football fan or not, this game belongs in your collection.

NFL 2K3 makes excellent use of the Xbox controller setup. One thing I noticed immediately while playing this game is that, just as in real football, you will NOT always throw a complete pass. In previous football titles, you could throw consecutive 200+ yard passes and your receiver would suck it up regardless of coverage. In this game, you must actually think before you throw. Yours truly has always had a hard time on the defensive end, and usually resorts to furious button mashing in an effort to take down the charging ball carrier. Cycling to correct players in 2K3 was a cinch, and my thumbs thank Sega for their well-thought-out control system and not so forgiving AI.

While I have not played many next gen football titles, I have at least SEEN them all first hand. NFL2K3 is easily the most gorgeous footballer out there, and the player models have been created to near lifelike quality. Guys who are hulking behemoths in the real world, are hulking behemoths in the game. Little scrawny placekickers are appropriately scaled, as are all other players. Where other sports titles seem to place various faces over 2 0r 3 generic body frames, 2K3 seems to have gone the extra mile and re-created each players likeness as it should be.

The stadiums are gorgeous and grand, though the crowds could use a bit of work. (why is it so hard for a developer to make realistic crowds?) Turf, be it artificial or real looks fantastic, and weather effects are top notch. One aspect of the game that really sets it apart from the pack is the integrated scenes from ESPN news anchors. Mixing this with game footage gives you the impression that you are watching an actual televised broadcast.

Not much to write home about here. All the standards are present and accounted for. The roar of the crowd, the grunts of the players, the squeal of the whistle, etc. The one downside to the sound is the repetitive announcer voices which can quickly become annoying and distract you from the game. Thankfully, Sega has allowed us to disable this feature in the game settings, so I can?t really deduct points here.

All in all, the sound is just as you would expect. I mean, it sounds like a real football game, so what more could you ask for?

I wouldn?t know what to suggest. I?m not a sports fan, so how about adding some guns and stealth combat during halftime? J/k

I?ll be on the lookout for NFL2K4, folks. Good job on this one!

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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