EA Sports brand has always been a guarantee for quality sports games, and Fifa 2003 is no exception.The Fifa football series has always been a blockbuster, but within the last few years the series has had a lack of improvement which has made the games boring and not very fun to play in my opinion. When buying a Fifa game you want something more than just updated rosters and kits and a couple of new songs to go with the menus, and for once EA Sports did listen to the fans and created something out of the ordinary as a result.
I don’t know where to start really. If Fifa 2002 had good graphics wait till you see this baby. The creators really did their homework on the stadiums. A total of 20 top European stadiums are included in the game, each carefully modelled to look like its real life counterpart. Eighteen top European teams are included also. Each of these is extremely detailed. Every player looks like he does in “the real world” and for the first time you are actually capable of identifying all of them. Besides this a total of about 40.000 players and 350 teams are included too, each having their own original kit with the real adverts and such. During a match you will see the crowd jumping, waving their banners and cheering for the home team but if the away team scores all of a sudden, the crowd goes all quiet until the home team gets a good shot at goal again. Generally the graphics are extraordinary in Fifa 2003 and are not like any Fifa game you have seen before.
The soundtrack for Fifa 2003 is once again filled with top artists like: Kosheen, Safri Duo, Ms. Dynamite, Fat Boy Slim and the groovy beats from these artists really bring pleasure to the game. Sometimes I would have to catch myself in just sitting and staring at my screen listening to the music. On the in-game side Ea Sports hasn’t let us down. Teams now have their own chants and songs and it really brings up a great deal of atmosphere into the game. Ally McCoist and John Motson are situated in the commentary booth and as you have come to expect from them they are doing the job very well, commenting on the players' former careers and providing the player with stats and facts.
Now this is something that has been totally revised by EA Sports: they have implemented new passing, dribbling and shooting models. When playing the game the first few times u can easily become frustrated because your passes aren’t working or the opponent keeps intercepting your ball. But after playing for a while and getting comfortable with it, you discover that you have much greater ball control than what you used to have. You also have to watch out when sprinting now, since the ball doesn’t just “stick” to your feet like it used to do. When sprinting you will have a harder time controlling the ball and your player, and the opponent will be able to tackle the ball from you quite easily.
But Fifa 2003 is not a perfect game. It has some pretty annoying flaws and AI bugs that tend to spoil the game at some points. For example sometimes while making a pass, the opponents stand still and won’t start running again before your player has received the ball. This could give you a great advantage and is quite fun the first few times, but after that it just gets plain annoying. Another annoying bug is the fact that you can’t make a header on goal, or at least I haven’t succeeded in doing so yet. What good is a corner if you can’t score once in a while? But besides these small flaws that could be corrected in an upcoming patch, the gameplay is really good and you are guaranteed to be entertained in all those long cold winter nights that are to come.
A new thing in Fifa 2003 is that you are able to compete with your friends having more than one team in the same season or a cup. I haven’t been able to test this yet but it sounds like a good idea and I know a big part in the Fifa community has been waiting for this. Otherwise, the multiplayer connection is very stable without any lag issues interfering and the multiplayer games are as fun as usual – or even more with all the new enhanced features Fifa 2003 has to offer.
All in all, Fifa 2003 is a great game. I have played Fifa games ever since Fifa International Soccer hit the market in ’94 and I can say that this is the best soccer game I have ever tried. The awesome graphics, the real team chants along with the perfectly modelled stadiums with the screaming fans just give Fifa 2003 a huge edge over the competition. If EA Sports would release a patch to fix some of the quite stupid AI errors this would be a definitive 10.0 game. Great work EA Sports.