Review by Milo X

Reviewed: 08/29/02 | Updated: 08/29/02

Visual Concepts vs. EA Sports IV: The Rumble on the Console

Fanboys and skeptics have congregated in Gaming outlets across the nation to witness what is probably the most hyped heavyweight bout since the recent Tyson/Louis fight. Which is better? Read on and decide.

Madden and 2K3 are apples and oranges, and excel in different areas. If eye candy is what you're into, I'm not going to even debate the issue. 2K3 wins with fluid player animations, more realistic player proportions, and the best faces in the game. Does this really effect gameplay? Not too much, but if you're only concerned with owning the best looking football game, I would recommend 2K3, although the graphical superiority over Madden is not by that much. The ESPN license enhances the overall feel and presentation of the game, and fans of the best cable network out there will get a giddy tingle as that SportsCenter intro plays for the first time.

The 2K series has always had a distinct feel to it, a faster more arcadey feel. In an attempt to win over the Madden faithful, the gameplay has been slightly slowed and the turn on a dime play mechanics have been refined and made more realistic. Good move by VC, along with the option to adjust the game speed for those turned off by the move. It isn't too difficult to pick up and play, but the learning curve for 2K3 is steep and may turn off some casual gamers. I only wish VC would do something about their play calling screens and add more defensive formations.

The Franchise mode is deep, the gameplay is satisfying, and this is by far Visual Concepts best effort yet, but is it enough to dethrone the champ? For me the absence of create a play hurt this release for me, and I, an admitted fan of the Madden series, will probably stick with my camp, but I intend to pick up a copy of 2K3 down the line. The truth of the matter is that Madden men will probably stick with Madden, and 2K3's cult following will stick with their game. Visual Concepts has raised the bar and the pressure on EA Sports, and unless Madden '04 makes some amazing off-season moves, next year even the Madden faithful will have to crown a new king. If you still can't decide, flip a coin or buy both, because the football console roster has never been deeper.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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