NFL 2K3 delivers just about everything a football fan could want.
It's very hard to find any faults in NFL 2K3. The game offers a variety of modes, including a significantly improved franchise mode, as well as incredibly balanced passing and running components that faithfully mimic those of the actual sport. In addition, the excellent commentary and graphics and the introduction of the ESPN-style presentation round out an overall excellent football experience.
NFL 2K3 has a relatively wide selection of modes to choose from. You can jump right into a game by choosing the quick game option or the exhibition option. Likewise, you can create your own tournament with up to 16 teams, or immediately jump into a playoff situation. There's also a practice mode that will help you become familiar with the fundamentals of NFL 2K3's gameplay. You can practice special moves while running with the ball, practice plays in your team's playbook with no defense, or hold a full scrimmage with a randomly selected defense, which is helpful since it essentially replicates a game-time situation and gives you a chance to get a feel for your team's strengths and weaknesses. In the Sega Sports challenge mode, you play games on default rules and options settings and then receive a password that corresponds to the stats you put up in each game. You can then use that password on segasports.com to rank yourself against other players and their statistics. It's not quite a full substitute for online play, but it does draw on the same sense of competition.
Perhaps one of the more intriguing options is the situation mode, which lets you edit everything from the score and the amount of time left on the clock to the line of scrimmage. So, for example, you could set up a game so it starts in the fourth quarter with two minutes remaining, and your team has the ball but it's losing by six points. You can create just about any scenario with this feature, and it can present quite a challenge for even veteran players, but if you're looking for something with a little more depth, you'll find it in NFL 2K3's season mode.
The season mode lets you take a team through a single season of football and the playoffs. Along the way, can set and tweak your roster, release players, and engage in trades. You can view any injuries that occur over the course of the season and adjust your roster as necessary. The season mode also provides you with a number of coaching-related options. In the coach game plan, you can place an emphasis on particular types of plays, so you can have your defense focus on blitzing or have your offense lean toward running. In addition, you can edit your team's playbook by searching through other teams' formations and plays and selecting the ones you want to add. Of course, most teams already have a large number of plays to choose from, but there may be a few occasions when it seems like your team doesn't have a play that's suited to its particular strengths or a specific situation. The season mode can be quite fun for those who don't necessarily want to get involved in the deeper layers of the sport, but those who do enjoy those deeper layers will undoubtedly be impressed by NFL 2K3's franchise mode.
Before you even dive into the franchise mode, there are a few customizable options to mess around with. You can decide whether or not to have a preseason, a trade deadline, or a fantasy draft, and you can also decide if the computer should handle drafting, re-signing, and other contractual dealings--though, part of what makes the franchise mode so entertaining is being able to handle such things yourself. In addition, you can create an entirely new league by moving teams into different divisions and importing players from NCAA 2K3. When you've set these parameters, you can then select your team and edit the coach's name and physical appearance.
From there, you're brought into an office area, which serves as your team's headquarters. This is where you can monitor upcoming games in the season, adjust your roster, look at injury reports, edit the playbook, and take care of other general coaching duties. If you select the front office option, you'll be sent to an entirely different office area where all the behind-the-scenes work is done. You can view the current status of individual player contracts and then choose to release players, renegotiate contracts, initiate trades, or put players on the trading block.