"Madden? What's a Madden?"

Now don't get me wrong here, I like the Madden football games. Some of my favorites games in the world were Madden football games. But in the words of Owen Hart (R.I.P.), ''Enough is enough, and it's time for a change.'' And that's exactly what I felt NFL 2K3 brought, a change. Having the same company churn out a new football game each year was getting a bit boring for sports fans, until they played NFL 2K. People knew one day it would grow to challenge EA's football games and maybe even surpass them. Well NFL 2K3 has done that.

Graphics: Incredible, just simply incredible. The player's faces look amazingly like their real-life counterparts (Jerry Rice's face was the most life-like). The field looks so amazing that during the late quarters of a game you can notice dirt tracks made from the players' shoes all over the place. The amazing detail put into player uniforms and helmets was astounding. If you are playing in a heavy downpour of rain, or snow, you will notice the stains of mud growing gradually on your players' uniforms. And the players' helmet reflections are just too realistic to describe with words. You simply must see them for yourself. And now thanks to Sega Sports' link up with ESPN, the game is presented in a more TV style manner. At the beginning of the game the announcers will go over each teams' starting offensive and defensive line. When playing in Franchise or Season mode, there is a weekly wrap-up that shows off the best play of the week and the best players of the week. The whole ESPN coverage during games really adds to the football atmosphere.
Score: 10/10

Audio: Extremely well done. The ESPN menu music is catchy, and there are more themes to listen to if you don't like it. The announcers are great, saying a few hilarious comments now-and-then. Hardly any repetition compared to Madden play-by-play. While on the line of scrimmage, prior to the snap, you can hear some trash talking from the players getting ready for the play. Very, very well done.
Audio: 10/10

Gameplay: Once again, great. The learning curve is a bit longer than in Madden, but that's the reason practice mode is there. The controls are tight and never miss a beat. There are 3 types on control setups to use to possibly make it easier for you. My favorite feature is the Performance EQ. What is it you say? Well when Performance EQ is turned on, all the teams are balanced, making winning the game based purely on skill. Now your friends can't just clobber you because they packed their team with the best players in the game, this time they'll have to work for it. Thank you Sega.
Score: 10/10

Replay Value: Well there's no Mini-Camp or Two Minute Drill modes in this game, but who needs them when playing the game is just so fun? You'll just want to play over and over and over again until you feel you're the best there is, then you can go online and prove it. Once the adaptor comes out, you'll be able to prove you're the king of the field.
Score: 9/10

Rent or Buy?: Buy this game! You want to have a fun time playing football with friends? Buy this game! You want a good challenge from someone online? Buy this game! You want to be able to play with any team you want, without fear you'll lose to the Rams just because they're ranked #1? Buy this game! You want- well you get the message. Buy this game!

Overall: The reason I gave this game a 10/10 is because it is, simply put, the best football game I've ever played. It has everything you could want: balance, fun, challenge. Heck, I'd give it a 15/10 if I could. Football game fans no longer need fear the wrath of the Madden cards, NFL 2K3 is here to save you!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 09/02/02, Updated 09/02/02

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