I managed to find a store that was still selling Gamecube games so you can bet that I dashed to pick up this title! I currently own Madden 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Now that I have this title, I’m just missing 2005 and 2008. After that I can finally say that I own all of the titles in the series. (Up to 2013 of course, I’ll get Madden 25 and Madden 15 once the price dips a little) This title is nostalgia gold and it may even bring tears to your eyes. I can certainly say that it’s one of the best Madden titles!
Right when you turn the game on, you’re greeted by the great color scheme that was present in Madden 2002. It’s all so retro and impossible to put into words. I grew up with Madden 2002 and played it a lot until I got Madden 2004. (The ultimate Madden) It’s just awesome to see the old menu’s and colors again. It’s easy to pick up and play as you grab your favorite team and you get to face off against any other team. You can play in a season or join the minicamps to have fun with drills. I decided to see how I’d stack up right off the bat in Play Now.
I beat the CPU on Pro, but I lost on All Madden and All Pro. I’m confident that I can win on those levels though and it shouldn’t take many tries. It’s a good feeling since other games practically cheat to make the A.I. better. Madden is guilty of this to an extent as your receivers tend to drop more passes, but it still feels pretty fair. I made some hasty decisions on some throws and the game really got out of hand once I was down by 10. Win or lose, it makes for a fun challenge.
This was the first title to bring in the Mini Camp mode and I loved that feature in 2004. It’s pretty similar here and it’s a fun way to get better in the various aspects of the game. I didn’t really get a chance to do more than check out the feature since I have a lot of games to go through, but I highly recommend giving this mode a spin. It’s pretty cool and it’s probably the best Madden feature that is no longer around.
The graphics are pretty good. It’ll definitely seem pretty different from a title like Madden 13, but that could be in a good way depending on how you look at it. The graphics help for the nostalgia and it’s a top contender amongst the Gamecube titles. (That’s saying a lot) Once you play NFL 2K3, you really appreciate these graphics as well. The soundtrack is pretty fun while you’re getting ready to play if you don’t listen to the lyrics. Once you notice them, they can be a little off putting, but it’s easily remedied through the settings. Also, it won’t really affect you during game time, which is the important part!
The gameplay is a little faster than 2012, but it’s slower than 2004. I’d say that Madden 2004 was probably the fastest Madden that ever came out and even the modern ones aren’t quite as quick. (Especially with the commercials and extra loading times) I’m fine with the speed here since it can also portray the real deal a little more accurately. For the record, the faster the better is my motto, but I can find a lot of positives with both aspects. You’ll be happy to know that quarterback scrambles are still very effective here as I had a tendency to gain more yards on the ground with Quincy Carter than I did with Emmett Smith. I was able to pull off traditional runs no problem, but it is more effective to run with your QB when he’s about as fast as your running back and the defense is not expecting such a play.
EA has gotten a pretty bad reputation in the video game industry and that’s too bad. I still prefer their Sport titles to the competitors despite the fact that many prefer the NFL 2K games. I finally got one of them and I’ll be reviewing it shortly, but I easily prefer Madden. Keep in mind that I grew up with Madden and have been playing it since I was a child, but it’s just more fun for me. NFL 2K can be a little too slow at times and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it makes it very difficult to run the ball of pick up big yards on a play. Of course, I’ll get into that in the NFL 2K3 review.
So, where would I rank Madden 2003 among the titles? It’s very difficult since I didn’t play some of the Madden games as much as the others and they can sometimes start to blur in with each other. Roughly, I would say that the rankings go: Madden 2004>Madden 2013>Madden 2006>Madden 2002>Madden 2012>Madden 2003>Madden 2007>Madden 2011>Madden 2010>Madden 2009. Again, note that I barely played Madden 2006-07, I don’t own Madden 2005 or 2008, and that my recollection of Madden 2009 is pretty vague. I’m mostly familiar with Madden 2010 through 2013 and Madden 2002 through 2004. Maybe I’ll pick up some of the others again to review them at some point, but I’ll wait until I’ve gotten through most of my backlog in terms of reviews.
Another aspect of Madden that many fans don’t care for is the commentary. Supposedly it gets very repetitive and annoying. I definitely don’t agree with this either. I think they do a great job calling the game and it makes the experience that much more authentic. By now, you’ve seen that I really like just about every part of the game. Madden is great and I dare say that it is now officially my favorite video game series of all time. Madden 2004 has taken the title of the ultimate game from DBZ Tenkaichi 3 (Which got leap frogged since Brawl also passed it for second) and I don’t think it will be relinquishing that title anytime soon. I have high hopes for Madden 25 and Madden 15, but it would be just about impossible for them to win.
Overall, Madden 2003 is easily one of the best titles in the series. It’s easy to pick up and play and you should be totally ready to take on any level of difficulty so long as you understand the rules. It can be a little annoying to see your kicker randomly kick the ball out of bounds during kickoffs, but you are in complete control for the other situations. The gameplay speed is solid and there are no real negatives in this title. You’re guaranteed to just have a blast when turning the game on and that’s not a feat that just any title accomplish.