Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. You can’t really go wrong with this one.
  2. What accounts for the less-than-perfect score is the extreme amount of tweaking it takes to get everything just the way you like it.
  3. 90
    You know this gameplay: There’s been a lot of excellent tuning but no mammoth overhauls.
  4. 87
    This year's game just maintains at the status quo level. True, that's a high level, but it isn't the marked improvement we were hoping for.
  5. There is room for improvement in execution of strategy and AI but it looks great, sounds great and is fun to play.
  6. 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.
  7. It's everything you'd expect from NHL 2003, except - isn't it time you expected more? [Dec 2002, p.133]
  8. The Game Breaker special shots are, frankly, corny; and the Dynamic Dekes are just too hard to control. [Nov 2002, p.142]
  9. There's just enough innovation here to warrant spending another 50 clams, but only if you're a die-hard fan of the series. [Winter 2002, p.105]
  10. The realistic puck physics and new goalie animations are the best additions, but certainly do not make up for the cheap computer A.I. and the Swiss cheese defense.
  11. 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.
  12. As always, the graphics in NHL 2003 are exceptional, especially on the Xbox. There were times when I thought I was watching an actual hockey game. [Nov 2002, p.88]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. Uter
    Sep 5, 2003
    There isn't a more disappointing hockey game out there. NHL went from being my favorite game series of all time to one of my least. They keep adding gimmicky things, and fogetting to improve the realism and gameplay. Also, the graphics are almost unchanged from last year. I really hate this game. I will never buy another EA NHL game ever again! Full Review »
  2. AndrewM.
    Jul 24, 2003
    Superb! A truly great game that suffers from a few minor glitches. For someone that does not own, or has never played NHL 2002, then this is a sound purchase. Having said that, this is the 3rd EA hockey title that I have purchaced and again it is still top notch...(I must say however it has been a long time between drinks for myself... NHL 94 and NHL 96 (SNES) which at the time were awesome) Graphically, NHL 2003 may not make the most of the xbox's capabilities, but the replays and soundtracks, and generally animations, (of players, refs and crowd) makes for a worthwhile experience. The statistically minded are also well taken care off with a very impressive aray of stats from the current and previous season, as well as playoffs! The only minor draw-back can be noted with the defensive linesmen AI. Leaving men alone infront of the net, giving away stupid penalties etc... However, with practice the advanced player can learn to ignore the puck carrier, and iron out those camping infront of the goalie (even if sometimes the action is not on the screen). Despite some flaws, this is a well rounded game, with a way cool soundtrack, and in-depth gameplay! A winner. Full Review »
  3. SeanC.
    Feb 20, 2003
    This game is the best hockey game i have ever played in my life. the best part was 100 million.