This is Football 2003
by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
The argument about which is the best console to own will rage for a long time. Of course the best console for you depends on what games you enjoy. If you like football games however, there is only one choice. The PlayStation 2 has a total monopoly on all the good football games at the moment. The benchmark title, Pro Evolution Soccer is exclusive to the PS2 and along with the annual Fifa release and This is Football 2002 there is no other console for the discerning football fan.
Of course it's that time of year again and the sequels/yearly updates are about to hit the stores. Over the last few weeks we've been privileged to get in plenty of time with both Pro Evolution Soccer 2 and This is Football 2003 and it's fair to say that football fans have never had it so good.
This is Football 2003 certainly goes for the jugular in terms of features. There's 81 international teams, 500+ club teams, 15 leagues with a total of 24 divisions, 10 grounds and 13000 players that have been made to resemble their real life counterparts (I can't vouch for some of the lesser known players but the superstars of the game all look very good). You can play in many different competitions, full ongoing seasons (with a fully working transfer system) which contains cup, domestic and continental, fixtures as well as league games, there is a total of 49 different competitions you can win, which is staggering. There is a challenge mode in which you play against a very difficult team and are given a rating to show you how good you are. As with TIF2002 there is also the Timewarp competitions that allows you to play with and against teams from the 1950s onwards. Should all this not be enough for you, it is possible to create your own cups and leagues to compete in.
Career mode is the main unique feature to TIF2003. Taking charge of a group of youngsters, it is up to you to make them a major force in the football world. You begin on park pitches with a team of fairly useless youngsters. As you progress the teams becomes more talented and with a huge chunk of effort on your part it's possible to take them to the big time. If any part of TIF2003 can be said to add originality and longevity to the game then this is it.
Of course a mountain full of features means zilch if the gameplay isn't upto much. The main question is how does it compare to Pro Evolution Soccer as that is the current benchmark for the genre. To be truthful the gameplay is some way behind PES and those gamers who have got used to the lifelike qualities of Konami's masterpiece may be a little bit dissatisfied with the action in TIF2003 because the gameplay is definitely more FIFA (although the action doesn't quite have the football on rails feel that the FIFA games have) than PES. However the gameplay is solid enough and it is good at last, to see a game that gives free kicks for handball as well as coming down hard on the divers.
The games graphics are also pleasing. As we mentioned earlier the player likeness' are good and instantly recognisable. The stadia are also impressive. Unlike TIF2002, TIF2003 doesn't suffer from any slowdown at all, the framerate remains smooth throughout. The game also features changeable weather and games that begin with a dry pitch can end up with a soggy one, which is nice. Play a match on a cold day and you'll notice that the breath from the players is visible. There are many other graphical touches that we could mention but suffice to say the visuals are very nice indeed.
TIF2003, like most football games is deaf gamer friendly. The commentary isn't subtitled but that doesn't really detract from the game. The referees decisions are all shown visually which is impressive as well as useful. When you're selecting a league to play in you can press the square button in order to obtain text info on that chosen league. In fact pressing the square button on most menu choices will give you help/info in text if you need it.
TIF2003 is certainly an impressive overall package. Not since Sensible World of Soccer has a title tried to cover so much of the footballing world. Despite the gameplay not being upto the standard of PES, it's still good and will impress those who find PES too complicated. TIF2003 deserves to be in every football fans collection because it is such a complete package and will more than likely contain their favourite club team, something that PES can't boast.
Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10 Good football gameplay wrapped in a huge and impressive slice of the football world.
Deaf Gamers comment: No problems at all for deaf gamers.