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Head back to school and get on the gridiron as Sega recreates the excitement of college football for Nintendo GameCube. The game will pull you out of the stands and on to the fields with plays like the wishbone and other triple options, to the sidelines complete with mascots and cheerleaders, into the jumping student sections, marching bands and more. Go behind the scenes as you assemble your team from the country’s top prospects, prepare in off-season training and endure an ultra-competitive Division 1 Schedule. The Writers’ Poll, Coaches’ Poll and the BCS Standings track your progress throughout the season and determine which team will compete in the 25 post-season Pro Bowls. Strive for perfection and the spoils of the gridiron are yours, including the Heisman Trophy, The National Title and the BCS Championship.Look no further than Sega Sports’ NFL 2K3 if you’re seeking a more than worthy alternative to the established Madden football franchise. The game’s superb graphics alone are enough to draw in any fan, but its in-depth gameplay realism and ESPN broadcast presentation easily rank this as the finest football game Sega has released to date.

Thanks to its smarter-than-average artificial intelligence, NFL 2K3 sports a somewhat steep learning curve that requires sound football simulation instincts. Knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses will ultimately be a big help if you hope to win at the game’s advanced levels. Be prepared to mix up your play calling and make adjustments instead of thinking the same old reliable plays will get the job done. Of course, practice mode is always there if you need to work the kinks out of your game plan and master the multitude of offensive and defensive sets at your disposal.

Graphically, sports games don’t come much better looking than NFL 2K3. Among the highlights: player animations are amazingly realistic and lifelike, and a wide array of facial emotions appear that are relative to game scenarios; stadiums are painstakingly re-created to take on almost postcardlike feel; and replays access a wide variety of angles to put you right on the field or in the stands.

One area in which NFL 2K3 easily aces Madden is its game commentary. As part of the game’s ESPN broadcast presentation, announcers Dan Stevens and Peter O’Keefe call every bit of the action in varied detail. Their comments are far removed from stale Maddenisms, offering worthwhile play breakdowns, player assessments, and quips that don’t make you wince in disgust (at least not too often). Stevens and O’Keefe, along with the crowd, will let you hear about it when you bite it on the field. –Larry White


  • Superb graphics in most areas
  • Commentators sound realistic and rarely repeat themselves
  • Challenging AI forces you to adapt your game plan


  • Receivers can’t be put in motion
  • Slow, lofting quality of the passes
  • No ability to challenge plays
  • Often unrealistic player animations

(This review refers to the PlayStation2 version of this game)