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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

SCEA (989 Sports)

 

Developer

Redzone International

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

 

- Excellent looking game

- Offensive control is AWESOME

- San Diego Charger Cheerleaders as wait screens? Love IT!

 

 

- Announcing is disjointed and downright annoying at times

- Defensive control is brutal

 

 

Review: NCAA Gamebreaker 2003 (Playstation 2)

Review: Madden NFL 2003 (Playstation 2)

 

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NFL GameDay 2003

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

All right! Here’s the latest football offering from 989 Sports.

 

Trying to show that the Madden franchise doesn’t have all the star power, NFL GameDay 2003 is commented by Dan Fouts (doing the color), Dick Engberg (play-by-play), and Ian Eagle (additional color).

 

This series is probably the easiest to pick up and play (besides the NFL Blitz series), and as such, will probably appeal more to the casual gamer. This game is all about offense – the average gamer will most likely have picked up all of the nuances of the offensive side of the ball by the 3rd game or so. The defensive side of the ball is another story; no matter how many games you play – it seems as though the best that you’re ever going to do is to contain the other teams’ offense from scoring too many points.

 

nfl-gameday-2003-1.jpg (42094 bytes)          nfl-gameday-2003-2.jpg (34544 bytes)

 

I must admit though, this game does have quite a bit of swagger; one of the features that guys are going to love is the wait screens while the disk is loading… they have pictures of the San Diego Charger Cheerleaders in different teams’ cheerleading outfits. (Definitely something that all of your horn-dog friends are going to appreciate).

 

Let’s go back to the offense.

 

Starting all regular downs from the huddle, you can choose from a variety of formations. The selection screen shows 3 different formations at one time – the center one is blown up and the other two are smaller and below. This represents a problem in that it is hard to see the formation that is not blown up – so I recommend memorizing all of the formations so that you can choose by the name instead of the picture. After the formation is chosen, you choose a specific play – each play is shown in the same pictorial manner as the formation, but with each player’s routes as well as a highlighted route for the player who is usually called in that play. For example, in Denver’s 626 Rollout from the 2 back formation; Shannon Sharpe’s route is highlighted, as he is usually the player who is called in this play. Play selection only applies to a huddle-offense, if you switch to a no-huddle-offense, the AI will choose a passing play for you.

 

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Once the play has been chosen, you go to the snap. At this point, you have a few options: you can try and draw the defense offside by fake hutting, putting receivers in motion, program a hot route, or call an audible play if the defensive line-up can be exploited. Hot routes are changes to a specific receiver’s route during a play – this is usually employed to take advantage of a blitz, so that you can burn the over-committing defense for a few yards. An audible is a pre-selected play that you can change to if the defensive formation is set up too 

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well against your play; for example, if the defense is in the prevent defense, it might be a good idea to switch to a running play, or if the defense is going to blitz their linebackers, switching to a slant pattern over the middle would burn the D hard.

 

The offensive control is excellent. For running plays, the control takes over once the back has the ball and for passing plays, each of the receivers has a button assigned to them (brightly, so you’re not as likely to screw up which receiver that you were aiming at). If you are so inclined to take more a simulation-style approach, you can activate the “Total Control Passing” system which allows you to determine the type of pass (lob or bullet), if you want to lead the receiver (throw the ball before or behind the receiver), or if you want to over/under throw. When pairing the Total Control Passing system with direct control of your receivers, the defensive backs really don’t stand too much of a chance.

 

Countering the downright amazing offensive system is the defensive system which feels like using fingerless mittens or swinging a sledge-hammer to set glass – you know that sometimes that you could be doing better with what you’ve got but the way things are set up that’s not happening.

 

Like the offensive side of the ball, you start out in a huddle with the opportunity to choose a defensive formation and play. Unfortunately, it is even more difficult to determine what the play is from the pictorial choices. Whenever, I’m on the defensive side of the ball I have an equal chance of accidentally blitzing whenever I meant to fall back into coverage. Before the ball is snapped, you also have the opportunity to audible to an alternate play to take advantage of a weakness, or to avoid getting burned. Once the ball is snapped, you have the opportunity to select which player you want to control and either try to sack the quarterback (or stuff the run) or break up the pass. I have found that either choosing a defensive lineman or a defensive back works the best, because whenever I control a linebacker, I always seem to be horribly out of position or the offense takes advantage of the space I just vacated. On average, a gamer should be able to have a decent control of the defensive side of the ball in 10 games or so (and that’s with the manual sitting open in their lap). The final way that this game is skewed is the surprising effectiveness of the open ball-carrier; I can’t recall seeing an open player who was tackled in a one-on-one situation. The only way to effectively bring down the opposition is to slow down the carrier until help arrives – the only effective way to bring someone down is with a gang-tackle (as realistic as that is in the world of Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher… whatever!).

 

nfl-gameday-2003-3.jpg (37676 bytes)          nfl-gameday-2003-4.jpg (38207 bytes)

 

Special teams represent the true double-edged sword: kicking and punting is frighteningly easy (it is very intuitive, and shouldn’t take you more than 2-3 tries to get the hang of it) but the return game will annoy you if you ever try to take a knee or fair catch a ball. For some inexplicable reason, the game doesn’t always accept those commands (at least for me) and there’s nothing worse than having to run the punt out of your own end zone when there is absolutely no up-field blocking. Or watching in abject horror as one of your players is about to be introduced to a full-speed tackle by a PO’ed linebacker.

 

Graphically, GameDay is excellent. I believe that this is one of the best looking games on the market (despite the craptacular in game messages that are ugly). All of the players look great, and the physical motions of the players even during the hits look downright realistic. (Maybe this is why I keep getting so queasy about sending Ed McCaffrey over the middle – I just start feeling sorry for him.) The sound is solid – all in line with the boom-mike that you hear from an NFL game. The announcing is mediocre; the game is riddled with pregnant pauses that just serve to annoy:

 

“The one thing that those……. Houston Texans…… need to worry about is their pass protection.”

 

“You’re absolutely right Dan. If the ……. Houston Texans….. don’t shore up that line ….. David Carr…… is going to spending a lot of time on his back.”

All in all, NFL GameDay 2003 is an above average football game that will appeal to gamers who are more enthralled with running up the score or having a full-fledged shoot out than an NFL simulation.

 

- Tazman  

(October 10, 2002)

 

"Your two friends’ lives depend upon my ability to perform tomorrow."

"More scotch sir?"

"Hell yeah! Let's get stinko!"

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