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Madden NFL 2003

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: Tiburon
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:

Much like the years past, the graphics of Madden NFL 2003 mimic it's real life counterpart perfectly. One thing I noticed is that everything is so clean, like player models and even the crowd. The whole thing is detailed very well. I thought that last year's graphics tended to outline a lot of things, which made everything in my mind feel "heavy." This year's Madden feels much lighter. The animations are even better than they were in years past as well, including the new animations when breaking away from defenders or defensive gang tackling.

To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed with some of the audio. Really, it only comes with the commentary. We all know John Madden bumbles around a lot, and that near the end with Summerall, it was a challenge to make it through a game without wanting to rip your own ears off, but I was expecting better stuff once paired with Al Michaels. In short, it's the same as it was with Summerall: awful. Michaels adds a little "life" into the commentary, but not enough to save it. In fact, it's worse than before at times, because things get repeated over and over again, including the stuff from Melissa Stark. I heard the same injury report from her three times in the same game about three different players. The rest of the audio is great for Madden 2003. The soundtrack is the best I've ever heard, including songs from Bon Jovi, (hed)p.e., Nappy Roots, and many more. And the sound effects are just as realistic as they've ever been. The commentary is the only thing that brings this down.


Gameplay:

The same great gameplay and features are back another year on Madden 2003, with some new toys added to keep you playing until 2004. Like always, you can start up right away with Play Now, create a dynasty for years to come with Franchise, set up a Tournament for you and your dorm-room buddies, run through a Two-Minute Drill, or recreate any type of Situation you can imagine. The brand new mode that will keep you playing until five a.m. is called Mini-Camp. This is where you travel around in Madden's bus to all the different NFL camps, where you try to pass different drills (passing, running, tackling, kicking, etc.). The better the trophy you earn, the better you get with the game itself, along with the unlocked players and cheats. Believe me, I found myself playing through the drills more than I did the game at times.

Last year, EA allowed us to create our own teams, which is back for another year. Also, we now have the capability to Create-a-Playbook. Take your favorite plays from all the different NFL playbooks, or just create your own formations and plays (both offensively and defensively). Sorry, there's still no way to run the option.

Two things that irked me a little were Challenging Plays and the amount of injuries. First, much like Phil Luckett (that crappy NFL referee that gets everything wrong), the Challenges aren't always accurate. I was catching a pass near the sidelines, but before my guy could get his second foot down, he was pushed out of bounds. At first it was ruled a catch, but after a challenge, he was ruled out of bounds. However, the NFL rules state that if a receiver looks like he will come down in play, but is pushed out before landing, it is still a catch. Needless to say, I was a little upset. But not half as upset as I am with the amount of injuries I seem to suffer game in and game out. I always thought there needed to be more injuries in a game, but it's almost like it's every other play.


Difficulty:

There are two other game modes you can play on Madden NFL 2003: Football 101 and Practice. These two modes allow you to learn the game if you're new to football or Madden. In Football 101, John Madden explains each and every play, what it's supposed to do, and so on. Practice allows you to run the same play over and over until you get it right. For the real thing, you can switch between Rookie, Veteran, All-Pro, and All-Madden. You can also change variables like how easy it is to pass, catch or run to add some difficulty to the game.

Game Mechanics:

The great thing about playing Madden on the Xbox is that the loading time between the menus and games is quite minimal. However, I do have one big question: Why can't the Xbox version of Madden 2003 go online? That's the only reason I docked points in this review (that, and the awful commentary). I was really looking forward to online capabilities, and now I have to wait another year. Besides that flaw, I was happy with everything else, like the controller configuration, game menus and memory space used.

Before this year's football games were released, Madden 2003 was expected to be one of the favorites for the "Football Game of the Year." After playing it, I'd say it has a very good chance.


-Red Dawg, GameVortex Communications
AKA Alex Redmann

Microsoft Xbox Knockout Kings 2002 Microsoft Xbox Minority Report: Everybody Runs

 
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