NFL Fever 2003
by Microsoft Game Studios
The best American Football title of last year was NFL Fever 2002. It surprised a lot of people with its purely enjoyable gameplay and its well thought out Dynasty mode. Of course this was one hell of an achievement when you consider it's competition comes primarily in the shape of EA's Madden series, a long established series with a hugely loyal following. This time around NFL Fever attempts once more, to be the NFL title to own.
I have to be totally honest and say that before I played NFL Fever my knowledge of American Football and the NFL was very small indeed. I'd heard of the Dolphins and Redskins etc., but my understanding of the game was practically non-existant. Even with this handicap though I've found the game to be very enjoyable indeed. The game comes with a superb tutorial that explains the basics and gets you up and running in no time. If like me you're a complete novice about the sport and fancy giving the game a go then this could be the one for you.
The game includes exhibitions modes and practice modes but the Dynasty mode is where you're going to spend most of your time. You can choose any team you want and play through a whopping 25 seasons. By way of trades, drafts and free agents you can create the ultimate team to dominate the NFL. In fact the beauty of the Dynasty mode is that you can get involved as much or as little as you want. The Dynasty mode can be played on any of the games difficulty settings so it can be enjoyed whatever your ability is. In addition to the the Dynasty mode there is also a Classic challenge mode in which you get to take on some of the greatest teams.
Visually the game is one of the finest sports games ever made. The stadia in the game look truly amazing. The players move and look great too. It is even possible to see the stadium reflections on the players helmets. The level of graphical excellence found in Fever is seldom seen in games. When played on a widescreen TV, which the game supports, the game looks even more impressive.
There are some gripes with an otherwise top notch sports title though. I've never seen a Field Goal missed which has to be unrealistic. Out of the thirty or so games I've played on Fever, all of the Field Goals were made successfully. Some might argue that the easy difficulty setting becomes too easy far too quickly. While this isn't a major problem it can give a false sense of achievement to the newbie player.
Deaf gamers will be disappointed to note that some areas of the game are unsubtitled. The games good verbal commentary is not subtitled which is a shame. Out of the three practice modes one of the key areas, Chalk Talks, is not subtitled and this is a setback because it gives you some important pointers on how to play the game more effectively. If you know your NFL inside and out then this won't be a problem but if you are a newbie this can be seen as a disadvantage. The manual is not that brilliant either and could have provided more useful information for beginners. The manual spends 5 of its 33 pages talking about the XBOX Live feature of the game which at present is irrelevant in Europe as Live is not up and running. These pages could have been put to better use with a leaflet discussing the Live features.
As I said earlier this was my first real NFL game and Fever had enabled me to learn how to play and appreciate the game. The game has one or two problems but overall I really enjoyed it. Let's hope the 2004 version is a little more deaf gamer friendly.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10 One of the best sports simulations on the XBOX.
Deaf Gamers comment: Some important omissions with the subtitles but on the whole there are not too many problems.