by Electronic Arts
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Check price @ amazon.com
• Official NHL and NHLPA game includes all 30 NHL and 20 international teams
• Authentic sounds captured from live NHL games, including player chatter
• Improved goalie AI
• Create-a-player lets you put yourself in the game
• For 1 to 4 players
Amazon.co.uk: Being huge hockey fans, we were excited about playing the latest in the long line of EA's NHL series--but we must admit to being a little disappointed with this latest offering, as NHL 2003 in all truth is NHL 2002 plus a few shiny bits. The new features for 2003 are an improved franchise mode which has more of the hardcore managerial events to deal with, such as annual drafts, player waivers, more injuries and suspensions, and more Easter eggs and celebrations to unlock with the NHL cards rewards system. One major gameplay change has been added: the Gamebreaker is simply a power bar which slowly energizes as you play, and once it's full a quick button press will allow you to pull off some pretty funky moves. Also improved are the in-game physics--the puck now rebounds off defenders and sticks with more realism. Our main criticisms (and perhaps this is nitpicking) is that the overly comic commentators have really dumbed the game down, and that there are too many Matrix-style slow-motion effects.
NHL 2003 plays fantastically and is one of the finest sports games to grace TV screens anywhere; the presentation is top-notch and most of the stats are up-to-date (although yet again many of the minor international squads still have imaginary players). But the new tweaks aren't really enough to justify shelling out full price if you already own last year's version--a lesson we hoped EA had learnt after finally getting FIFA right this time. If you're an NHL completist or a hockey fan, or have never played NHL before, then we recommend this game over any other. If you've already got NHL 2002 then you can do without this version's new features. --Laurent S. Hall
From the Manufacturer: Take control of the fastest sports game on earth-NHL 2003. Whether you're skating as a rookie or lacing 'em up as a pro, pull off 90-mph slapshots and awesome moves with Dynamic Deke Control. Never before have you had this much control over the stick and puck. Show off your superior skills and earn rewards like the Game Breaker, which puts your opponents in slow motion as you blow by them for the open shot. Torching speed and pulverizing action will get any sports fan fired up. NHL 2003-the game for every sports gamer.
I've been robbed, November 12, 2002
Reviewer: Michael C Cusick from Denver, CO United States
Usually I buy the next version of NHL from EA without question. It usually is no worse than the last year's game. This was the first time I was robbed. This game is terrible. Even tweaking sliders all day long won't make the players AI any better. It is a joke. Player photos have them in old team jerseys a whole year after they were traded (Jason Allison) and the rosters are not even close to accurate. Overall, a sloppy release that will make me rent before I buy EA again.
Just awful, November 12, 2002
Reviewer: A gamer from USA
A plain BAD hockey game. Bad AI, tired gameplay. Avoid this piece of garbage and give Sega's NHL 2k3 a shot -- a company that cares about making a good hockey game.
Not what I expected, November 1, 2002
Reviewer: David H from NJ United States
I will repeat with what I have read and agree with
"The animations don't match up with the gameplay, and furthermore the animation looks more cartoonish." also agree with this
"This is the first time I've every played the NHL series on the XBox. Previously, I've played it on the PC with NHL 2002 and NHL 2000. Unfortunately, I'm pretty disappointed with NHL 2003. "
Only have had XBOX for a couple of months now but I expected a lot more from NHL 2003. PC versions are MUCH better detail and camera shots are better
Don't Waste Your Money, October 27, 2002
Reviewer: Erik Lymanstall from Cincinnati, OH United States
This game is horrible, don't waste your money. I can't believe EA Sports would put out such a game. SAVE YOUR MONEY
Bought it. Sold it., October 26, 2002
Reviewer: Christopher Muise from Boston, Ma.
Let's see. Where do I start? With the awful camera angles? With the un-updated rosters (Byron Dafoe in goal for Boston???)? With the un-intuitive menus? With the inability to save game settings? Save the money. This game is an abomination. It plain wreaks.
Great Gameplay, and smooth graphics!...., October 22, 2002
Reviewer: A gamer from HiState
I don't know whats going on here...but my vote is five stars for this one! This game is very fast and fun, with smooth graphics, and a realistic challenge for patient people that like simulations better than arcade style sports games. Camera modes were easy to work with for me, and all the extra features just add to it's appeal!
NHL 2003, October 19, 2002
Reviewer: A gamer from St. Ann, Mo United States
This game rocks! Buy it now and tell me what you think of the game.
WHY??????, October 18, 2002
Reviewer: A gamer from upstate
Well the soundtrack is good. That is about the only good thing I can say about this game. The camera angles are awful. You either can't see your teammates/the net or the camera is way too far away. They haven't improved the create a player at all. There are no spin moves (maybe PS2 has them still). Exteremly inferior teams will light you up with about 8 goals, while you struggle to score one. The animations don't match up with the gameplay, and furthermore the animation looks more cartoonish than last year. I would take this game back and buy it for PS2 but what I've read from reviews it ... on that platform as well. Bad bad move EA
Doesn't Seem To Be That Fun, October 14, 2002
Reviewer: leaderl from Northridge, CA
First, I rented this game from Blockbuster and played about 3 exhibition games and 2 season games so far. So, a lot of this review will be more like first-time impressions because I have no intent to buy this game and finish it per my opinion. So, here goes my review:
This is the first time I've every played the NHL series on the XBox. Previously, I've played it on the PC with NHL 2002 and NHL 2000. Unfortunately, I'm pretty disappointed with NHL 2003. A lot of emphasis has been put on presentation of the game rather than the gameplay itself. Also, the pace of the game has been slowed down since last year. Though, to some, it might be a change EA has made for realism, but for me, it seems to slow down this game too much in a sense where it takes too long to get a shot off to the net (this means trying to get everyone into position and keep passing until I get a good one-timer, slap shot, or write shot). Also, passing seems to be a bit strange because I find myself passing to no one every time I try to drive towards the net and pass it back to a defensemen.
In all, I'm not having much fun with this game. I even played this game with my friend and we switched to another game after playing half of a game. So, in terms of being fun, I would just pass on this year's game and probably wait for Sega's NHL 2K3 and give it a try. I know some audience might like this game, but for me, it was a disappointment.
One giant step backward, October 14, 2002
Reviewer: Dave Nichols from Arizona, USA
NHL2003 continues its tradition of following a good release with a bad one. The one major flaw with this game, and it is huge, is that there isn't even one decent camera presentation for the game. This isn't to say that NHL2002 was great in this area either. It wasn't, but at least the action cam in that game was decent. You have six camera options to choose from here. The action cam is the worst. It is just too close to the ice to be useful for gameplay in NHL2003. Replays yes, but gameplay no. In this mode your team-mates are frequently out of the picture and this necessitates making blind passes. Worse yet the opponents goal is not visible from many areas inside the blue line so you have to shoot at a general area and hope for the best. Obviously, slap shots from the vicinty of the blue line are not an option. But wait, you still have five other camera options, right? Don't bother with those either. The perspective on all is either too far from the ice or the angle is worthless. Decent gameplay is still possible but now you lose out on all the great graphics because the players are too small. What a waist of the great Xbox technology. It's too bad the programmers didn't include custom zoom which would have lessened the problem.
There really is no need to go into gameplay considering the presentation is so awful, except to say that fighting in this game is still as bad as previous additions, though it is at least slowed down from NHL2002's super-charged, adrenalin infused, unrealistic frenetic slugfest.
Some players may not have problems with this game but I doubt serious gamers will be able to tolerate the flawed camera presentations.
If you own NHL2002, keep it inspite of the outdated rosters and poor fighting and pass on NHL2003.