Review by TuxedoAlex

Reviewed: 08/13/02 | Updated: 08/13/02

The Best Only Gets Better

EA's Madden series of football games the one of the longest series to date, only rivaled in game numbers by Sega's franchise. For over ten years now, the Madden franchise has been known as the cream of the crop of football games. And this year, Madden NFL 2003 has made sure that it keeps that title.

GAMEPLAY

Lets start out here, first. All the main stuff from last year is here, except for...Season Mode? Well, not technically. Instead of Season Mode and Franchise Mode being put as two separate options, EA decided to combine them into one mode, starting you off at the preseason. Preseason games are a new addition to the game this year, and it really acts like an actual preseason. As soon as the first half is over, your second string comes in to finish the game. All the other customizable options you've come to know and love return as well in this mode.

Adding on to the Practice mode and Two-Minute Drill from last year, EA has added new minigames in the form of Mini-Camp. Here, you take the roll of different teams to practice your running, passing, blocking, defending, and kicking. You first complete the mini-game portion, then try your hand at a fantasy game situation. Very interesting, to say the least, and you'll have fun gaining rankings here.

The Madden cards are back, but with a twist. Yes, you still buy them with tokens you earn via playing, as always, but now you can only earn certain cards by completing the Mini-Camp games. Not only that, but there are ten cards you'll need to unlock by having saves from NCAA 2003 and/or NASCAR Thunder on the hard drive. Collecting them all has gotten that much harder.

On the field, I haven't noticed too much of a difference. The replays have been improved, and the running game has been toughened. I needed to rely on the passing game a lot more.

GRAPHICS

On the X-Box version, the players are modeled perfectly. Each model comes with excellent animations, and no jaggies in sight. But the faces...sheesh, EA just painted the faces on the players. Hardly any movement, if any.

SOUND

Madden is back doing the commentary, along with someone knew, whose name I can't place right now. The new guy is great, but Madden...IT'S THE SAME FRIGGIN' ''MADDENISMS'' FROM TWO YEARS AGO! I swear, they just ripped his voice from past games and pasted it on here. What bothers me is that Madden's comments are so generic, they add nothing to the game. Not only that, but right now, he just says things that make him sound like Captain Obvious. ''You don't want to turn the ball over, because that way, your opponent could get points.'' Yeah, John. We know.

Music during the menus is pretty good. They've taken the NHL 2002 route and included some big named bands. Not that noteworthy, though.

OVERALL

This game is every football fan's dream. It plays well, and there are enough options and extras to fiddle around with to keep you busy for weeks. But the commentary, again, is the only reason why I don't give this game a higher score. It does detract from the game THAT much.

Which doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. It's a great game. Much better presentation then last years, and the addition of the preseason is pretty cool. A must have for any football fan.

SCORE: 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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