Review by MODARCHANGEL

"Surprised but still not TOP DOG"

General/Summary: Ok, ok, it's not as polished or as deep as Madden. It has glitches and it has flaws, but what you have is still a very fun football game. Personally I was quite impressed with NFL2K3. I'll admit it right now, I'm a die-hard Madden fan. However, being the football freak that I am, I decided to try something a little different, esp. when I found 2k3 on sale. I haven't been disappointed. Like I said, while not as polished as Madden, this game is still quite fun AND a refreshing change of pace. So, before I get into the main part of my review, I'll do Things I Would Like to See for Next Year.

1. Less of the super QB/RB syndrome.
2. More polish on the graphics.
3. More polish on the control.
4. More modes of play (ie Madden's Training Camp).
5. More done with the ESPN license. C'mon guys, you coulda done more with it after all that money you paid for the license.

Bottom line? There's things to love about both football franchises, and the ultimate game would be an amalgamation of the two. NFL2K3 is a very fun football game. It just lacks some of Madden's polish. Watch out, EA, this franchise is only four years old, compared to Madden's 11-12. Rest on your laurels and the 2K series just might beat the ol' fat boy out.
Gameplay: From the get-go, I was impressed by the gameplay. While it's not perfect, I found several things I liked better than Madden. First off, if you want to bring a strong player (like Eddie George) down, you better either cut their legs or hit them hard. Try an arm tackle, and you'll be on your back while they dance towards the end zone. The players really fight for yardage in this game. The tackling is more realistic, as well. You won't deliver crushing hits all the time, as in Madden...sometimes a simple shove will knock down a receiver. The playbook is easy to read, though it seems to contain a lot of the same plays, just with different formations. Oh yeah, and this game is tough, too. A little TOO tough on the default mode, if you ask me, but practice on Rookie for awhile and you can take on Pro. For example, start out trying to run on Pro and get ready to see the new definition of ''Stuffed.'' Also, if you call the wrong D, prepared to have your D-backs served flame-broiled.

Now, onto the gameplay complaints:

1. As previously mentioned, some of the players are a little TOO tough. I'm sorry, but I just don't see Kurt Warner throwing off Warren Sapp very often, but he'll do it easily in this game. Also, if a running back gets past the line, you better hope you can hit him with two guys, or else he'll break six tackles and head to the endzone. Please. It's one thing to juke, but another thing to flat run over half the defense.

2. This is more a matter of preference, but ''Switch to closest guy'' should be switched to ''Switch to closest guy in FRONT of the ball carrier.'' This is a carryover from my Madden playing, but if you have a guy in hot pursuit of the ballcarrier, and you try the reflexive switch/dive, you'll instead switch to your safety in front who will promptly lay a crushing tackle on the lead blocker. Crap. Touchdown offense.

3. The Super QB is a part of this too, but sacks are flat RARE. The offensive line is way too good. Every sack I've gotten so far is by pure luck.

4. There are still a few AI bugs. Sometimes you'll pull off some total BS bonehead plays, and sometimes you'll have some pulled on you.

Graphics: The graphics are very good, but not great. The player models are nice, but not as good as Madden's. I like the stadiums, though, and there are some nice touches. Clouds cast shadows on the field. The running and tackling animations are superb. The stutter-step is very realistic looking. All the sideline people are there, including the ''Event Staff'' security bums. It's just too bad you can't lay out the chain gang/coaches.

Thank God they finally got the running right...I remember on the Dreamcast version, all the players had tiny heads and ran like they had sticks up the wazoo. One more niggle, however...why can't anyone else get a QB throwing motion as realistically as EA's? These QBs look like they're throwing turkeys instead of footballs.

Sound: There are ups and downs here, too. On the downside, the commentary is repetitive and somewhat annoying. It is better than Madden's, but still way off the mark for sports games in general. Witness NHL 2003 or NCAA Football 2003 for examples of good commentary. I realize these guys aren't real announcers, which begs the question...you have the ESPN license, why not use some of THEIR GUYS????!!???

On the plus side, I absolutely LOVE the trash talk. I play as the Titans, so I've heard guys say, ''Dang, Eddie, I thought you ran harder than that!'' when Eddie gets stuffed and ''Hey Air McNair, guess you shoulda thrown it that time,'' after a crushing sack on Steve. I just love that, and quite a few players will receive trash talk like that.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/07/03, Updated 03/07/03


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