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Review By:  Nick Arvites

Developer:   Visual Concepts
Publisher:   Sega Sports
# of Players:   1-4
Genre:   Sports
ESRB:   Everyone
Online:   Yes
Accessories:   Memory Unit
Date Posted:  


Sega is trying to compete with EA for the football crown with NFL 2K3, and this is the first installment of the series that was not built for the Dreamcast first. They assessed their franchise and made some key improvements, including the ESPN licenseÖbut is this enough to compete with Madden?

NFL 2K3 looks great. The players and uniforms look excellent. Some of the lesser-known players look like they have a 2D face, but for the most part the players look great. Stadiums look extremely good and weather effects are great in the game. You do not see the effects of weather on the jerseys. They stay clean no matter what kind of weather youíre playing. I prefer to see the wear and tear on a jersey during a game played in rainy weather.

The create-a-player needs improvement. You cannot fine-tune details like hair or eyes. Actually, you canít even pick what college you come from. You do not get unlimited points, so you canít create a perfect all-around player. However, you can create a perfect position player. Real players donít even compete with create-a-players.

The back of NFL 2K3ís box claims it has advanced gameplay. Well, if advanced means unrealistically lame, that covers it. Lets start with defense. You cannot sack. Forget about it. It is not possible. If you get 3 sacks over 5 games, youíre doing really well. Why canít you sack the QB in this game? The offensive line is like a solid wall. You cannot get through even if you trade to get Warren Sapp and Norman Hand on the same line. Every single team in the game has an indestructible offensive line on passing downs. Running downs change things. I found myself shutting down the CPUís run in almost every game. The DBís ensure that I cannot contain the pass game. No matter how much you screw around with the gameplan meters, you cannot get your DBís to cover properly. They stay in their zones and will allow receivers to streak right past them. If they do manage to cover a receiver, they are never in proper position and usually give up a catch. Linebackers make more interceptions...which is good considering they canít blitz at all. Offensively, the game gets a little better. Since your O-line is indestructible, you can take some time in the pocket. Running the ball can be a pain if youíre coming from Maddenís control scheme. The game is not really built for power backs (unless they have massive speed too) and you will not really want to use your fullbacks. You can send receivers in motion, but it is pre-set by the plays. Hot routes are done horribly in this game and they take a while to get used to. The controls for hot routes are not fine-tuned and you may send a receiver slanting instead of streaking. Kicking is horrible. Donít bother with field goals. The kicking system is complete garbage and should be scrapped. The CPU can hit field goals with amazing accuracy. The only time they miss is if they go short (which is rare). When you try to kick, you have to deal with the stupid moving arrow and a really terrible, sped up meter. One thing that did annoy me was the lack of calling for Instant Replays. Since the ball spots in this game are horrible, I want to challenge it. Oh well, I guess Iíll have to deal with the terrible spots. Penalties are decent, but the wrong ones are overdone. If I tried to run a play-action pass, I would have ineligible receiver downfield called on me. Think back. When was the last time you ever saw this call made in real life? Never. There are also abundance of clipping penalties and pass interference calls (without having any sort of contact).

NFL 2K3 really shines with the presentation. The ESPN license is a welcome addition to the game. It actually seems like you are watching a game on ESPN with the logos and inserts. The commentary is great. They actually talk about the play at hand and use teleprompters, replays and have half-time and post game shows. There isnít a play of the game feature, but the weekly wrap-up is pretty good. It recaps the weekís games with a play of the week and players of the week. Sadly, the plays of the week are pre-generated and I never got it. They need to improve the weekly wrap-up feature. I would suggest putting clips from all games throughout and make it sort of like Sportscenter.

NFL 2K3 supports Xbox Live. You can update rosters and play other people online. Sega started the online console craze and it is appropriate that they are one of the first games to feature it on Xbox.


  • ESPN license
  • Excellent graphics
  • Supports online play on Xbox whereas Madden doesn't


  • Gameplay needs major work

Final Verdict: 

NFL 2K3 could contend with Madden if it improves its gameplay. There are too many problems with it to say it is better in that aspect. NFL 2K3 does skunk Madden in presentation and commentary. The fact that it features online play and groundbreaking presentation features warrant this a rent, but maybe not a buy unless you hate Madden or like the 2K system.

Overall Score: 7.5

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