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NFL Gameday 2003
Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 989 Sports
Developer: Red Zone
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:
To be perfectly honest with you, after nearly two years of PS2 powered graphics, looking at a PSOne game is like spending a week in the alley behind Wal-Mart after a week at Disney World. In order to get myself in the 'proper mind-set' I pulled out last year's Gameday to compare, and you know what - it may be a new season, but this is still the same team.

In both graphics and sound, Gameday 2003 is a pixel for pixel carbon copy of last year's engine. Players are still a blocky, yet nicely animated mess; the stadiums look exactly the same as they always have; menus are still clear and easy to read - like I said before, everything looks exactly the same as last season.

Unlike the graphics, sound has received a modest off-season adjustment. Last year's two-man team of Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts are now joined by Ian Eagle, adding a little more versatility to the commentary. For the most part I enjoyed the three-man team, but still felt it was not quite up to par with other games. Comments aren't repeated as much as in past games, but most of the what is said is either laughable or just go with the on field action.

As with everything else in the game, this is an exact carbon copy of last year's product. Once again, you are given your choice of either Simulation or Arcade modes. Simulation mode provides for a more realistic playing game while Arcade is Blitz without your players bursting into flames. As much as these two modes are supposed to differ, there were times where I could not tell the difference between the two. Putting up massive passing and rushing yards is still possible in the Simulation. It makes for one hell of a game, but teams should not be able to put up 600-700 passing yards per game (unless of course you are Steve Spurrier and have not quite figured out that whole running game thing). Rushing seems to have taken a slight drop this season. Unlike last year, breaking tackles for massive runs is not nearly as common and quite a challenge. There still seems to be a slight problem with player speed, but since this has been an issue in every game since the 2000 season, I am at the point where I just ignore it.

Players looking to go a little deeper than just Exhibition games will be happy to know that the Season and Tournament modes are still very much intact.

Gameday 2003 offers up four difficulty levels and the ability to customize nearly every aspect of the game. Players causing too many (or too few) penalties? Shut them off. As great as this ability is, the game still never feels hard enough, especially when playing on the Hall of Fame difficulty level. Whereas 50+ points in a game is considered a blowout in most circles, when you are hitting those numbers in Gameday, your offense just isn't producing.

Game Mechanics:
Control is just as it has always been. Gameday's signature Total Control Passing makes its return as does just about every other quirk. Although many of my complaints have been about things being 'the same as they were last year', I was thankful that one thing remained the same, the game's accessibility. For me, one of the best litmus tests of a game's control system is if my dad can pick up a controller and play with me, something he was able to do easily with Gameday. I was also glad to see that players could have as little or as much control as they wanted in the game. If you want to micro-manage every aspect of your team's plays, be my guest. Just want to play coach? Then pick your plays, sit back and let your players do all the work.

Judging from the 'Buy a PS2' ads present (both obvious and not so obvious) in the box, this is likely the last time Gameday will grace the PSOne. Its had a good run with both its ups and downs and despite its problems will probably always have its niche audience. Although I probably do not have to say this again, this is essentially last year's game with an updated roster and new commentary. Gameday 2003 will surely please fans, but those looking to try something new may want to test the waters before buying.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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