Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. The new features, especially the dynamic deke control are remarkable and may warrant an upgrade from a previous version for the true hockey fans.
  2. True purists may prefer to look elsewhere for their hockey action, but those seeking a fast-paced, action-packed game are in for a real treat.
  3. 90
    You know this gameplay: There’s been a lot of excellent tuning but no mammoth overhauls.
  4. A slick hockey game that delivers all of the action, realism and play modes fans of the series and the sport could want. As ever though, this latest edition in the series plays, by and large, like the other nine.
  5. 86
    Those expecting a sim-style game, beware. NHL 2003, like last year's edition, slants more toward arcade-style hockey... Another good installment.
  6. 84
    A solid game that improves only marginally -- if at all -- over last year's game.
  7. There are only a few improvements to help distinguish it from NHL 2002, but these changes further increase the realism of what is considered the best hockey simulation on the market.
  8. Hockey fans looking for a major overhaul of this series won't find one, but that's not necessarily bad. [Dec 2002, p.46]
  9. There’s more fluency to the [Hitz] gameplay, and the “on fire” element is handier than EA’s aptly named “gamebreaker”.
  10. The sound package continues to be exceptional in this series. But the camera work is atrocious. There's simply no good camera in the game.
  11. If you liked “NHL 2002” then NHL 2003 is almost the exact same game.
  12. 80
    The latest version of EA's yearly hit isn't the quantum leap ahead of last year's, but it's improved enough to keep it at the top, drinking from the virtual Cup.
  13. It's a little different, but if you dissect every little detail, it's actually a step down from last year's release. [Nov 2002, p.120]
  14. EA Sports continues to feel that this franchise mode is superfluous, and the ten-year franchise you can play in NHL 2003 is very rudimentary and poorly explained...[yet] you'll definitely have a lot of fun playing NHL 2003.
  15. A better-playing, all-around more realistic game than 2002 with a level of control that puts all past EA NHL games to shame. [Dec 2002, p.212]
  16. The puck has strikingly solid physics...The trouble is, defense is a joke. [Dec 2002, p.164]
  17. It’s not sim enough to match up with Sega’s offering, and Midway has a faster, more fun arcade hockey game in NHL Hitz.
  18. Instead of going back and fine-tuning the game's fundamentals, the developers let the broken stuff stay broken and added in some cheap new bells and whistles.
  19. 67
    All of the defensive techniques are a shambles. [Nov 2002, p.76]
  20. As always, the graphics in NHL 2003 are exceptional... There were times when I thought I was watching an actual hockey game. [Nov 2002, p.88]
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 10
  2. Negative: 4 out of 10
  1. JoshH.
    Jun 5, 2003
    If anyone has played any of the previous NHL series games and liked them, DO NOT GET THIS GAME!!!!!! I got this the day it was released, and I was so excited, yet when I started to play, I had turned the game off within ten minutes, and put NHL 2001 in. The gameplay is horrendous compared to the previous NHL games, and the charecters and their respective animations look like puffy disney characters. The worst game I have bought in years, only surpassed by any of the WWF/WWE games. Full Review »
  2. BradC.
    Mar 23, 2003
    This game is probably one of the best games i own, bsides nba 2k3 and nfl 2k3....and i own all the newest games, whoever says this game is a less then 7 is crazy, if you do say that then you havent played it that much or your not a hockey fan....the graphics are amazing, and so is everything else....maybe try using the rangers, they have all expierenced players, and they have kovo, and bure....or the reason you didnt like it is because you couldnt beat the computer, keep tryin.. Full Review »
  3. AnthonyS.
    Dec 19, 2002
    NHL 2003 has the most realistic gameplay. Most of the aspects of this game are excellent so I will only list the things I don't like: The player's faces looked more realistic in NHL 2001. The repetitive, between whistle, views of the crowd's actions and corny dancing are annoying. The game also shows the players pushing, shoving and taunting each other after every single whistle. This does not happen that frequently in real hockey. I liked the momentum meter better instead of the game breaker. I don't like the player cards option. To me, this is cheating and is not realisitc to hockey. (I guess I don't have to use it, right!) The only exception to the above are the celebrations and easter eggs which are kind of neat. Again, the above citicisms are minor. The game has the most realisitc gameply that I have ever seen. I have read reviews that the game is high scoring and not defense oriented. This is simply not true. The game forces the player to pay more attention to his defense than previous NHL games. Full Review »