NHL Faceoff 2003
NHL Faceoff 2003 returns this year with a number of additions over last year's lackluster release including redesigned character models and the addition of a career mode. It would be nice to say that these changes have made the NHL Faceoff series competitive with EA Sports and Sega's hockey series' but frankly it's still a distant third. Plagued by a number of issues that either are significantly better presented by the competition or cause mild disappointment and frustration, NHL Faceoff 2003 puts together a sufficient game with a few moderate problems. The main issues with NHL Faceoff 2003 aren't the problem areas that most games have, but the fact that it's completely out-matched by juggernaut game developers EA Sports and Sega.
NHL Faceoff 2003 does bring a complete set of gameplay options including career, exhibition, and season mode. Unfortunately, it's the actual gameplay where the majority of the problems crop up effecting all the different modes of play. One area that seemed to stand out was it not having the realism other sports games have been able to achieve. Goalies blocking shots that should have been impossible to reach, the puck being passed around at an unreal rate, and having your team's AI in particular fail to execute basic hockey strategy, all play a role.
The graphics aren't exempt from the problems either but is more of a mixed bag. In between points or when penalties are given, the players look great as facial expressions resemble actual players and personality come through with extra bumps to opposing teams members or smacking the penalty box camera in frustration. Unfortunately, while actually playing, issues like frames missing from the beginning of animations making movements appear jumpy offset the graphics performance.
Most of the problems affecting NHL Faceoff 2003 are moderate in nature but this year's release of hockey games significantly out-pace it. With that in mind, if you planned on purchasing a hockey game this season, I can't think of a reason to recommend NHL Faceoff 2003 over its competition other than the fact that it's $10 cheaper.