Realistic gameplay combined with total control over your team make Sega's NHL 2K3 the game of choice for serious hockey fans. The game captures all the intricacies of the NHL from the furious, hard-hitting action on the ice to the day-to-day decisions made in the front office. Don't like the production you're getting out of one of your players? Send him down to the minors for a few weeks of seasoning to get his game in order. Prefer high-scoring shootouts or 1-0 grind-it-out defensive struggles? Tweak the game's highly customizable AI to set things just the way you like them. Regardless of your preferences, NHL 2K3 delivers the goods to make this more than a passable hockey sim. Like most of Sega's recent sports releases, NHL 2K3 hangs its hat on stellar gameplay and sweet graphics. Little, if anything, is overlooked: players move and react much like their real-life counterparts--goalies are especially acrobatic; the puck seamlessly glides, flips, and bounces around the rink and off the posts and goalie's pads; players can be pinned to the boards during a scramble for the puck; missed shots are covered up by a diving goalie or slapped in off ensuing rebounds; arenas are painstakingly re-created and feature music and sounds specific to each one. Off the ice, there's plenty of options to tinker with and ways to strategize. NHL 2K3 boasts over 30 sliders to alter effects ranging from ice friction to referee collisions. And, of course, there's the franchise mode that allows up to 250 years of dynasty building. --Larry White Note: This review refers to the PlayStation2 version of this game.