Season Ticket Football 2003 is the worst sort of sports management title. The Dave Koch Sports effort (best known online as Action! PC Football) is one of those curious amalgams of a migraine-inducing interface and relentless number crunching, a program so needlessly complex that you can't bring yourself to call it a game. Add in continual crashing and you have the leading entertainment option in the circle of hell designated for wife-neglecting couch potatoes who don't move a muscle on Sunday afternoons.
The biggest issue is the interface, which couldn't have been more counterintuitive. Strictly from a visual standpoint, things aren't that bad. But although the graphics are in line with those of the typical, text-heavy sports management sim (in this case, one with literally no sound at all), getting from point A to point B is nearly impossible. This is a problem right from the moment the program loads, as the initial menu screen doesn't actually offer the option of creating a new league. You can load a league, but that isn't much good if you don't have one to load. Not all the buttons even work properly. Hitting "Play" results in a run-time error and a drop to the desktop, unless you have a league up and running. Or, at least it seems that way--it's hard to make any concrete judgments about a menu system that is so vague and obscure.
Getting started with a league from scratch is a nightmare. Absolutely no pointers are given, so you're left to flail about, trying different menu commands in the hope that one actually leads where you're intending to go. Finding your way can take quite a while, as there are many likely candidates under the "Start" and "League Utilities" pull-down menus. Even when you do blunder into the right place, it takes a considerable amount of time to wade through the setup options. Something as straightforward as taking over a single team is about as much fun as applying for a mortgage. Things eventually become sort of clear, although you'll run out of patience with the pointlessly intricate design long before you start enjoying any football management. Never has a game more desperately needed an online help feature or a comprehensive print manual. The on-disc documentation is thorough, but it's poorly written and useless for getting started because it assumes that you have a basic idea of how things work. Virtually nothing is in the CD booklet at all, aside from a table detailing the effects of game time on player fatigue that is so brief it could have been tucked into a fortune cookie.
Going through all that hassle isn't remotely worthwhile, either. Season Ticket Football 2003 is too limited to satisfy most players. For starters, there is no career or dynasty mode. Although you can age players by a year before beginning a new season, ask the computer to select random retirements, and have a rookie draft, you essentially start from the beginning with every new season. You can't even bring a season to its proper conclusion, as there is no way to simulate the playoffs without setting up an independent tournament and manually plugging the teams into their respective places. All of which is odd, because there is a long list of rules and options that can be tweaked when setting up a league. There's no flow between the years or sense of building a franchise unless you take your league online and find human players. Generated numbers are respectable either way, though since we're dealing with fictional players and not the real superstars of the NFL, it's hard to make a determination about what's acceptable and what's not. Nothing stands out as being outrageous or impossible to believe, though.
Coaching a team in an individual game should be somewhat satisfying. You can even go online to take on live opponents. There are a lot of options available in regard to calling plays, and the games that result are typically authentic and entertaining. But you often can't finish them. Run-time errors show up frequently, often dumping you out to Windows in the midst of running a play. Actually, the program has trouble any time it has to deal with more than one window, or when you try to move a window. Just clicking on a menu bar will frequently reward you with a shortcut back to Windows via a run-time error box. Hitting buttons also brings up apparently random run-time errors. Additionally, it's easy to inadvertently ask for a report that cannot be generated. This brings up the same error message over and over again until you Ctrl-Alt-Del your way out. You'll want to raise a toast on those rare occasions when you get to intentionally shut down the program.
All this makes Season Ticket Football 2003 nothing short of insulting. You shouldn't have to waste hours of your leisure time trying to figure out the basic mechanics of the interface. You shouldn't have to jump through hoops just to set up a league with the default settings. You shouldn't have to experience recurrent run-time errors and crashes to the desktop. Thankfully, you can avoid all these problems by leaving the game on the shelf where you found it and backing away slowly.