reviews\ Nov 25, 2002 at 7:00 pm

FIFA Soccer 2003 - PC - Review

Another hard shot from 25 yards out rockets toward the corner but Bayern Munich’s Oliver Kahn, arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world, flies laterally and deflects it wide. The crowd at Santiago Bernabéu stadium gasps at the keeper’s incredible timing and reflexes. It is the second blast from FC St. Pauli strikers, and the second turned away.

John Motson and Ally McCoist, the game’s commentators are appropriately enthusiastic about the keeping, noting that Kahn’s heroics are keeping his team’s tenuous one-goal lead intact as time runs down.

FIFA Soccer 2003, an EASports release for the PC, is the kind of sports game that most aspire to be but few realize. The game’s dynamic lighting and game physics are superb. The animation is exceptional and the play is fluid.

Munich’s Claudio Pizarro receives the pass 20 yards from the net and turns. The defense sloughs back, anticipating the hard rush or blast. Pizarro glances at the net, sees the space and moves quickly forward. The defense surges to stop him and just before they arrive, he nudges the ball toward the far corner. The keeper wasn’t anticipating that, and seems to have been looking for a hard shot to the near post. The touch fools him and the ball finds the net.

FIFA 2003 places club championship soccer high on the podium with this outing. Featuring elite teams and leagues from across Europe, the game not only features accurate physical representation of the world’s top players, but also captures the atmosphere surrounding this athletic spectacle by utilizing the actual team chants and songs.

Other features include more than 8,000 real players playing for more than 350 official teams. There are 16 of the world’s top leagues represented here.

The game also introduces the freestyle control element, which allows for knock-ons, a faster way for a controlling player to move the ball. Instead of dribbling the ball, the player knocks it a short distance ahead, then sprints to keep up ­ which serves to produce a quicker attack. The game also features an intuitive airplay system for heading and volleying the ball.

And for those that like rapid ball and player movement, the game does have through balls and through runs.

While the game does feature solid computer AI response and play, it was surprising to see a weak team back away from a strong attacking squad, rather than play tight and work for the offsides. However, you can change a team’s on-field strategy by taking on the challenge of a season and opening up the team management mode.

The only problem encountered with this game was in regards to controllers. The first install wouldn’t allow for remapping control settings on a gamepad. In fact, the game didn’t recognize the gamepads connected to the PC. However, after uninstalling and then reinstalling the game, that was corrected.

FIFA Soccer 2003 is a terrific game that will delight soccer/football fans while creating a challenging and entertaining sports atmosphere. This game is the best of the FIFA series, and while not perfect, is certainly another step in that direction.

This game is rated for Everyone.


Gameplay: 9.3
The game keeps track of the stats, including time of possession, and only slows for replays of key opportunities. The action is fluid.

Graphics: 9.5
The player models are superb, and the animation is absolutely wonderful. The game features a new physics scheme that captures player’s signature moves while keying on dynamic and realistic ball movement.

Sound: 9.2
The musical score is good, but can get repetitious. The announcing of Motson and Ally McCoist are excellent and enjoyable.

Difficulty: Medium
This game is challenging, and while you can learn the control configuration relatively quickly, the AI will keep you on your toes. Even a relatively weak team can pour it on late in a game and make a game of it if you are sloppy.

Concept: 9
EASports has taken an excellent series and tweaked it just enough to make it better. The interface may have been reduced to a bare-bones look, but the game is what matters and in that regard, this game scores.

Multiplayer: 7.5
Anytime you can play head-to-head with another person, the experience is much more enjoyable that a single-player experience. But when it comes to the scope of options, this is the same game as the single-player/CPU outing.

Overall: 9.4
The game’s graphical elements are crisper than console modes. Let’s face it, the FIFA title has no real competition on this platform, but EASports has tweaked the game enough to give players a reason to buy the latest edition.


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