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NHL 2K3 probably won’t find a huge audience because many gamers turn to hockey games not for a simulation of the sport, but for spine-shattering checks and double-digit scoring. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but those gamers should fire up NHL 2003 or NHL Hitz 20-03 for their dose of board-battering goodness. However, if you’re looking to play hockey of the NHL variety, to tackle pro challenges and use real-life strategies, NHL 2K3 will thrill you as much as watching your team heroically survive a five-on-three penalty kill.
Treyarch and Sega have created the “Madden” of hockey with this title. It just needs some aural and visual polish to become something amazing. With gameplay this good, though, I’m prepared to look past some minor faults. The addition of the ESPN license really legitimizes the “serious” gameplay effort that Sega is trying to put forth as well. Smart choice on this because most Americans are unfortunately unaware of the excellence that is Hockey Night in Canada on CBC.
If you are looking for a great hockey game for the GameCube than look no further than NHL 2K3. This game has a few minor faults, but it is jammed packed with ton of things that will keep players coming back for more for a long time. This will be the best $50.00 you can spend on a hockey game for the Nintendo GameCube!
For hockey fans salivating for a near-perfect translation of their beloved game, or for gamers who like the simulation qualities found in the Sega Sports next-gen games, NHL 2K3 is a great acquisition. Frankly, I found this to be a tremendous game. Hockey has always been a great fit for converting into video games since the days of Blades of Steel on the NES. It's a simple game on the surface, but beneath it, there is a subtle complexity that can really grab you if you go looking for it. A plethora of menus and a more-than-necessary simulation element notwithstanding, NHL 2K3 is a serious good time.
NHL 2K3 is hockey done right. The AI for both your teammates and opponents is superb. While you can certainly score from time to time by simply taking the puck yourself and trying to challenge the goalie one-on-one, you'll need to pass the puck and play proper hockey if you want to win consistently. Clearing opponents away from the net, setting screens, pinning players to the boards, dumping the puck off, snagging the puck in mid-air, checking, and playing smart are all crucial to being successful. While that may seem daunting, it's surprising how easy it becomes after playing NHL 2K3 for a while. Even those who know little about hockey will learn the game by playing 2K3. While it's not a perfect translation of hockey, it's about as close as you can get without becoming too much of a simulation.
NHL 2K3 may be slightly late to the party, but don't hold that against it. Sega has done an excellent job of adding new features and polishing existing ones to make the game worth the wait. Now that the series has moved on to all platforms, no one will have an excuse not to play what has become the best hockey game series on the market.
Sega's NHL 2K series began on their very own first party console system the Dreamcast with NHL 2K and has been in development ever since. Such games as ESPN NHL Hockey, NHL 2K2 and NHL 2K3 have arisen since then, and the series has continued to evolve to this day. Unfortunately the series will be ending with ESPN NHL 2K6 because EA bought the license to ESPN for 15 years starting in 2006 and Sega will no longer be allowed to create hockey games with the ESPN license. Nevertheless, while this remains to be true and unfortunate, that doesn't take away the fact that NHL 2K3 is one heck of an awesome hockey simulation, and one that should've sold many more copies than it originally has!
What it comes down to is that NHL 2K3 comes up a bit short in the end. The gameplay modes just don’t go the full length in depth, and the glaring omission of skills competitions or a readily available shootout mode is disappointing to say the least. Especially with the memory requirements that go all out to prevent the full experience, the game could have been much better. Obviously, the lack of online play is a big one, and NHL 2K3 has failed to deliver anything extra for the GameCube version. It’s easy to feel a bit short-changed while playing.
Die Vorzeichen für eine Machtübernahme im Genre der Eishockeysimulationen waren viel versprechend. Tolles Gameplay, Live-Support und viele Einstellungsmöglichkeiten sorgen bei NHL 2k3 für ein gelungenes Eishockeyspiel. Dass Segas Sporttitel dennoch nur zweiter Sieger bleibt, liegt vor allem an der langweiligen Präsentation; Grafik und Sound wirken ordentlich, reichen für ein potentielles Topspiel aber heutzutage einfach nicht mehr aus.
Segas Eishockey-Einstand auf dem GameCube, der gleichzeitig auch ein Abschied ist, entpuppt sich als schwer zu schluckende Pille. Spielerisch befindet sich die Mischung aus Arcade und Simulation zwar annähernd auf einer Stufe mit der alten und neuen Referenz, doch was Spielmodi und vor allem Präsentation betrifft, bringt man den Hockey-König nicht einmal ansatzweise ins Wanken. Insofern wird mit den umfangreichen Konfigurationsmöglichkeiten grandios Pulver verschossen, das man lieber hätte verwenden sollen, um NHL 2K3 in punkto Präsentation wenigstens auf ein Niveau mit den anderen 2K3-Titeln zu heben. Was übrig bleibt ist eine passable Eishockeysimulation mit vergleichsweise schwacher Grafik. Ob das aber ausreicht, um eingefleischte Eishockey-Fans davon abzuhalten, sich wieder mit EAs Vorzeigeprodukt zu beschäftigen, wage ich zu bezweifeln.