NFL Fever 2003

Review

posted 10/16/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
I love football, as a man I feel that it’s my birthright to plant my rear end on my sofa every Sunday and take in as much football as possible. But what about the 5 other days of the week where the sport is nowhere to be found? I’ve tried filling the void by watching other, lesser sports but they just can’t satisfy my cravings. So what do I do? I play football games, lots and lots of football games.

Last year marked the console debut of Microsoft’s NFL Fever (it originally appeared on the PC) franchise and for a rookie franchise, the game came off far better than expected. Even with the big two on the market, Fever managed to gain a cult following of some sorts. Those who were looking for a heavy dose of arcade action, but were turned off by NFL Blitz, were delightfully pleased, especially the casual football fans who didn’t want to deal with all the intricacies of the sport. However, an equally large number of the population was turned off from the game due to the hyper-inflated statistics and unrealistic gameplay. Microsoft has listened to its audience and worked hard to deliver a game that plays and feels much more like a realistic football simulation should.

Sure the statistics are still way over the top, but they’re much more sensible than last year’s version. This means that although you’ll more than likely encounter QBs that throw for 300+ yards a game (Peyton Manning is the coverboy after all) as opposed to 100 or 200. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to stop the passing game but containing it has become much easier thanks to some minor tinkering. To give you an idea of how much better it has become, I was able to average nearly 500 yards of passing in last year’s game. The tweaks have gone a long way in improving the game and more importantly, future entries into the series.

The funky control scheme remains and oddly enough in this instance, I can’t fault the designers of the game. Fever further exposes the ineptness of the Xbox controller, including the S. The face button perform your usual moves, speed burst, tackle, dive, change players. There are quite a few problems though, let’s say you’re the ball carrier, you can press A for a speed burst, X for a stiff arm, right analog stick up for hurdle and black button for dive. Now go ahead and look at your controller, does that really look convenient to you? Try pressing the speed burst (A) and the dive button (black) without changing your positioning on the controller. You can’t, the scheme is just too odd and cluttered and again, it exposes the negative aspects of the Xbox controllers.

This year’s game features many of the same principles found in the other 2003 entries, this means franchise modes where you’ll have to deal with salaries, practice modes where you can perfect your usual bells and whistles. What this game does do better than the rest though is in the execution of the online component. Utilizing Microsoft’s Xbox Live technology, finding a game and hooking up with someone is a breeze. Thanks to the headset, you can even trash talk throughout the duration of the game without having to type a single word, awesome!
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