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NFL Gameday 2003

Developer: 989 Sports | Publisher: SCEA
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 08/12/02 | Genre: Sports

While the PSone version of Gameday 2003 can't compare with the version for the PS2, it's still a solid romp filled with tons of hard-nosed play, a vast selection of plays, and some bodacious cheerleaders run interference during the load screens. If you still haven't upgraded to the PS2 or want a good football game to take on the road with your portable PSone, NFL Gameday 2003 offers plenty of pigskin for the buck. Comparing it to my PSone Madden game from a few years back, Gameday sports more options and more advanced controls. The one thing that frightened the heck out of me was the 15 blocks of memory needed to play the General Manager mode.

We ran into one odd problem during our first few bouts of multiplayer mayhem. Normally, you hit the X button to snap the ball and then again to bring up receivers. If you move the QB in any direction besides straight back, the game seems to think that he's scrambling and you end up a pitiful target for sacking. Personally, the problem never hit me, since my first instinct is to always back up from the line of scrimmage a bit so I can have a little more time to pick out the open receiver. Sure, sometimes I get hit for a big loss, but with a good arm the QB can open up some serious yardage. We also had one lockup that required resetting the Playstation, but it must have been a fluke (so far at least).

The older PSone format doesn't provide a lot of room for tons of eyecandy, so 989 chose to put the graphical emphasis on the gameplay instead of meaningless extras. Sure, it would have been sweet to be able to see a detailed crowd of fans or all the cheerleaders standing on the sidelines, but keep in mind that it's a football game. As I mentioned earlier, you do get some nice still images of the cheerleaders to pass the time while you are waiting for the game to load. They might not be animated, but they can definitely put you into a 죨eerul frame of mind. Distractions aside, for a PS game the players look life-like and flow from animation to animation smoothly enough not to detract from the game. As long as you aren't expecting to see any rendered players that look as slick as what the newer generation consoles offer, then you'll not be disappointed. One of the players blew a hamstring during one game, and it looked like he was doing some sort of funky-chicken celebration dance.

The sound isn't too bad. There's not really any music to speak of during the game, and the commentators can be a bit goofy. The comments themselves aren't bad, but the way they are used in the game tends to over-emphasize plays that aren't all that spectacular. Nonetheless, it's a nice touch. The players can also speak and celebrate after completing a tough play. While they don't break into the Gettysburg Address, it's a load of fun to rub it in your chum's face.

The game offers a number of play options including: exhibition, season, tournament, and general manager modes (that 15 blocks needed still hurts). If you want to challenge some friends to something more than a single game but far less demanding than an entire season of play, the tournament play should be right up your alley. General Manager turns the game into something akin to a football sim putting all of the administrative decisions into your hands. It's a simple matter to access all the current team statistics, injury lists, and free agents. You can also create your own athletes or super athletes. Sufficed to say if you don't turn the salary cap off, a totally tweaked super star is going to break the bank.

Gameday shines in the football department. What do I mean? Well, it may not have all the bells and whistles that other platforms are able to offer, but it certainly doesn't skimp in the gameplay department. There's plenty of hard-nosed football to be had within the disc, and that's what counts. While I won't call it a Grade A game, it weighs in just a hair below a solid B.

By Greg Meadors - 09/15/02
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Screenshots for NFL Gameday 2003

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