Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. 84
    A solid game that improves only marginally -- if at all -- over last year's game.
  2. 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.
  3. The new features, especially the dynamic deke control are remarkable and may warrant an upgrade from a previous version for the true hockey fans.
  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. 90
    You know this gameplay: There’s been a lot of excellent tuning but no mammoth overhauls.
  7. 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.
  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. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. If you liked “NHL 2002” then NHL 2003 is almost the exact same game.
  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. 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]
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 67
    All of the defensive techniques are a shambles. [Nov 2002, p.76]

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