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Critic Reviews

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GameCubeGameZone (Oct 04, 2002)
This game is stunning to look at and a joy to play. The racing dynamics are excellent, and everything is in place for the best racing experience to date on the GameCube.
PlayStation 2GameZone (Oct 02, 2002)
EA really went out of their way to not only bring all of the fun, excitement, and intensity of NASCAR racing into your home, but also did one heck of a job making it very realistic and as true to the real thing as you can get on a PS2. The difficulty was the main thing that kept this out of the high 9’s overall, but it is definitely worth the ticket price. EA has once again proven why they are still the top of the mountain when it comes to sports titles. If the conversion from 2002 to 2003 is this good, I am really looking forward to seeing what 2004 will bring.
PlayStation 2GamePro (US) (Sep 23, 2002)
With NASCAR Heat 2 gearing up for a November start, stock-car fans have plenty of exceptional action to choose from. Judging from a preview version, Heat 2 will probably handle a bit better but look a bit worse, and its unique Career mode might appeal more to some gamers. But you can’t go wrong with Thunder’s excellent, exciting performance. Its hearty NASCAR personality will hugely appeal to fans, while its innovative and deep approach will reel in plenty of racing gamers.
GameCubeGamePro (US) (Sep 23, 2002)
For NASCAR fans, it’s all about the drivers personalities, and NASCAR Thunder 2003 delivers them in a big way. The pre-race intros in pit lane are worth watching again and again, and cool videos of drivers pop up all over the place. In the new Lightning mode, everyone from Dale Jr. to Tony Stewart introduces you to a famous race moment, then puts you behind the wheel to try to duplicate their feat. And in the new Thunder License mode, you follow your favorite driver around the track while he teaches you the best line. You’ll also find a 43-car pack, all the Winston Cup tracks and drivers, and a full Season mode.
XboxGamePro (US) (Sep 23, 2002)
For NASCAR fans, it’s all about the drivers personalities, and NASCAR Thunder 2003 delivers them in a big way. The pre-race intros in pit lane are worth watching again and again, and cool videos of drivers pop up all over the place.
PlayStation 2PSX Extreme (Oct 09, 2002)
However, if you're willing to stick with the game, the rewards and satisfaction that they bring is well worth it. In my opinion, Nascar Thunder 2003 is a good example of what racing is all about. Bumping cars out of the way and making your way from 40th position to 1st as you zoom around a tight track filled with 43 cars is what anyone who loves racing games craves. Many games try to emulate this, but Nascar is one of the few that does it very successfully.
GameCubeGameSpy (Oct 17, 2002)
As someone who isn't a big fan of NASCAR, I still found it hard to stop playing NASCAR Thunder 2003. The career mode is akin to an RPG, and the customization available throughout ensures that it can be tailored to suite most tastes. Calling it the Gran Turismo of NASCAR might be a stretch, but NASCAR fans may seriously never have to buy another video game. Even those who have had no love for stock car racing in the past should give it a rent and see if they can resist addiction.
XboxGameSpy (Oct, 2002)
Far from suffering from a "sophomore jinx," Thunder 2003 has managed to smooth out some of the rougher edges of last year's model -- similar to the way last year's Thunder 2002 for the PS2 ironed out a lot of the wrinkles from the franchise's PS2 debut. Thunder 2003 gives gamers more tracks, more stuff to do, and better graphics. And, like the best of racing games, it'll probably boost your trip to the mall by a few mphs.
PlayStation 2IGN (Sep 19, 2002)
The only real qualm I have is that the repetitiveness of racing in ovals and other similar shapes for countless laps over and over again, could wear thin after while. But with a high number of street tracks, ergonomic driving, and other plusses I mentioned elsewhere in the review, this is one racing game that I'd recommend to veterans and newbies alike without hesitation.
PlayStation 2GameSpy (Oct 17, 2002)
And, if you want mission-based objectives, again, it's there. The balance between pleasing hardcore gamers while pleasing Joe Gamer is astounding -- EA Sports is to be commended for that. If you even halfway like driving games, you owe it to yourself to check out NASCAR Thunder 2003.
XboxIGN (Sep 20, 2002)
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed NASCAR Thunder 2003. Not a big stock racing fan by any means, the user-friendly controls and interface along with an absolutely splendid presentation really helped draw me in, and I expect it will do so for the majority of console owners out there as well.
XboxGameZone (Oct 01, 2002)
NASCAR Thunder 2003 comes close to being one of the most perfect NASCAR racing games available so far and much of that has to do with the realism factor this game pushes to its farthest limits. While its heavy-on-the-realism feature can be too realistically demanding the game’s racing fun does not slow down very much.
GameCubeIGN (Sep 20, 2002)
Racing games are probably the most difficult of all genres to review. With such slight modifications made to the simplest of categories, your experience can go from a god-awful bore fest to bona fine fast-paced entertainment in the blink of an eye. It's a fine line that separates the two, as only the proper amount of tweaking and testing can determine which is the best way to go. "Should our game be like a simulation, or should it be more like the arcade?" It's a question asked by many a developer before, and one that EA Sports has seemed to finally found the answer to.
GameCubeGameSpot (Oct 10, 2002)
In the past, GameCube owners haven't had many options for getting their stock car fix. In fact, they didn't have any options at all. Now that EA has brought its Thunder series to the GameCube, though, Nintendo-bound NASCAR fans will have more than enough on their plates to keep them racing until well into next year. The only Cube-specific caveat we can offer is that it takes more than one Memory Card 59, even an empty one, to save everything that Thunder 2003 has to offer. This may not be an issue, however, depending on what you want to save. Overall, NASCAR Thunder 2003 is a well-made, polished, and thoroughly playable game, and stock car racing fans should be quite pleased with it.
XboxGameSpot (Oct 10, 2002)
Overall, NASCAR Thunder 2003 is an impressive update to last year's game. The core gameplay remains solid and is perhaps a bit more focused, and the game gives veteran racers not only the latest drivers, cars, and tech, but also a good number of new gameplay modes and features to play with. Yearly sports franchise updates don't always provide enough of an upgrade to even warrant their existence, but in this regard, NASCAR Thunder 2003 definitely satisfies.
PlayStation 2Netjak (Sep 23, 2002)
Has all the goods, and is definitely a must purchase for NASCAR/racing fans. The create a driver mode is well executed, and is yet another way in which you can expand the replay value. The best NASCAR game available on the PS2, and one of the best racing games overall.
PlayStation 2GameSpot (Oct 10, 2002)
To sum up, NASCAR Thunder 2003 is a fine update to EA Sports' popular stock car racing franchise. It does pretty much everything a yearly sports update needs to do to be a success: It improves on features that previously were lacking, and it brings some new additions into the mix as well. PlayStation 2-owning NASCAR fans, even those who played last year's game, will be doing themselves a favor by checking out Thunder 2003.
WindowsActionTrip (Oct 26, 2002)
OIverall, I don't know what to think of this game really. Even though it is not as interesting as Formula 1, NASCAR Thunder 2003 can be intriguing. The large number of different tracks, some of the greatest names in racing and the smell of petrol you "feel" after being in the cockpit for some time are reason enough to play this game. I only hope that the inconsistent graphics won't spoil your enjoyment too much.
GameCubeNetjak (Sep 30, 2002)
Has all the goods, and is definitely a must purchase for NASCAR/racing fans. The create a driver mode is well executed, and is yet another way in which you can expand the replay value. I was hoping for a little more polish for the Gamecube version, however seeing that the PS2 title was so well executed, I can certainly be satisfied with it. The only noticeable advantage for the GC version are slightly faster load times, and my ability to use the control stick vs. the d-pad on the PS2. Probably the best NASCAR game available on any system, and the first top-notch, must own racer for the Gamecube.
WindowsGameStar (Germany) (Jan, 2003)
Die Boliden steuern sich dank vorgefertigter Setups gutmütig. Nascar- Neulinge werden dennoch wenig Freude an der Simulation haben: Zum einen landen Sie selbst bei kleinen Fehlern direkt am Ende des Feldes. Zum anderen fehlt die Möglichkeit, eine Ideallinie mit Brems- und Beschleunigungspunkten einzublenden. In puncto Technik hinterlässt Nascar Thunder 2003 einen durchwachsenen Eindruck: Exakt modellierten Wagen stehen durchschnittlich gestaltete Strecken gegenüber, die Motorensounds klingen etwas zu kraftlos. Insgesamt ist der direkte Konkurrent Nascar Racing 2002 von Vivendi Universal mindestens eine Klasse besser und mit 30 Euro deutlich günstiger.
WindowsComputer Gaming World (CGW) (Feb, 2003)
With Papyrus’ NASCAR Racing 2002 on the shelves, there’s really no reason to consider Thunder and its inferior racing experience. But Thunder is a very respectable racing simulation that could b a worthy competitor someday.
WindowsGameSpy (Apr 09, 2003)
Since Papyrus' NASCAR Racing run is ending with the 2003 version, that pretty much leaves the PC NASCAR market in EA's hands for now. If NASCAR Thunder 2003 is any indication, that doesn't bode well for PC gamers who love serious racing sims. NASCAR Thunder 2003 has a few strengths that the franchise can hopefully build on, but for now, with its extensive list of problems and missing features, it simply can't compete.