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Sega comes out swinging this year in an attempt to de-throne EA and it's Madden-ites. Do they succeed!??
Call me whatever you want this year, bias, a fanboy, a disgruntled EA employee but Sega outdoes EA in every category. Starting with presentation and ending in online capabilities on BOTH consoles Sega's NFL 2K3 is the football game to own this fall. With the ESPN license, better player models and faces, and the best game play to boot Sega has finally surpassed what the house of EA has built for so many years. I will not let my opinion fly without reason and I am not going to spend the rest of this column doing comparisons of the two game. Instead I am going to tell you why this year to leave Madden sitting on the shelf.
Starting with the good stuff we get to the visuals. The character models are so damn pretty from a distance you would swear it was a real game on TV. The animations have been beefed up this year for the new consoles. To top it all off the XBox version runs smooth as ice with added bump mapping on the jerseys as well as other nice little touches. Dirt builds up on the characters and the rain and snow clutter the field making the game even harder as it progresses. Sticking with the great flavor Sega has started since NFL 2K this year's game adds so much in the graphics department it is hard not to appreciate the obvious work done in the off season.
Speaking of great things NFL 2K3 does have you been privileged to hear the amazing commentary NFL pulls off? Sometimes you are frightened at how accurate these guys are. Dan Stevens and Peter O'Kiefe are two guys that have such a dynamic interaction it's hard to remember you are playing a game. Circling plays and showing you what exactly happened in the replays to giving you shit about trying to pull the same play outta your ass twice in a row these guys can surely call a game!
The most important aspect of a football game to me is it's realism. I watch the gridiron every Sunday and I know what is real and what is a game. NFL delivers the most true to life football experience available on a home console. Having to plant your feet for more accurate passing, needing the O-line to open holes for you in a running play, and judging the wind on field goal kicks are just a few of the details NFL pays close attention to. Keeping the virtual experience as close to the real thing as possible is what makes NFL the clear choice this year, I dunno about you but I actually like a challenge when playing a game, not a gimme.
The biggest complaint that NFL has had over the years is that is wasn't deep enough for sim heads. Sega has taken this into account and added one of the best franchise modes this side of gaming. Being able to haggle players out of retirement, draft college players from NCAA 2K3, and fantasy draft is only the beginning. This game is every bit as deep as the others this year and Sega has done a nice job to please everyone. With so much going right for it is there anything we can complain about?
Well since I must gripe about something I will mention the learning curve. This game is hard, and when I say that I don't mean in two games you will find some Madden money plays to bail you out. The comp learns how you play and combat you accordingly. If your best offense is running they will constantly blitz to stop the run. If you are a passing maniac they throw double coverage on your main receivers to slow that down. The AI is just uncanny when it comes to winning a game. They will take you to the final quarter making sure you have no chance of coming back. This will turn off many gamers as they do not like to lose.
In the end with so many choices this year Sega is the obvious winner. The playing field is full with the likes of NFL Fever 2003, NFL Gameday 2003, and Madden 2003. If you are curious as to which one to buy look no further than any true football fan and you will soon realize that Sega is a dominant force in sports entertainment. With an ESPN license and the best game play around Sega has come away with my money this year. It is too bad most people will still buy Madden for namesake, this is what ruins developers pride and I for one will not let that happen!