Game Review Data
Game Title
FIFA Football 2003
Electronic Arts
1 - 2 Players. Battery Save.
Soccer Sim
Andrew Blanchard



Ratings Scale:






Archived Game Reviews:

From A - Z



For many years now the FIFA series has been considered the definitive version in the crowded market of soccer Sims. Slick presentation and great graphics have always been the hallmarks of a FIFA game, but most importantly, thanks to EA's licensing deal, it's one of the few that actually feature real teams and real players. This time around, the development behind FIFA Football 2003 is UK developer Exient, the team behind Total Soccer and the GBA version of NHL Hitz. As such, it'll be interesting to see if they can live-up to the FIFA tradition and give us all a soccer game to remember.

Screen Shots


Your first challenge is to select not only a team but also the competition you wish to enter and the options available here are truly impressive. For starters, you'll be able to choose a team from almost all of the European leagues and some forty International teams too. It's then all down to exactly how you wish to tackle the game, which could be anything from a one off friendly to a full tournament.

FIFA Football 2003 is also loaded with a variety of options, which allow you to alter the style of play according to your preferences. It's all here, whether you wish to increase the difficulty levels or adjust the on screen displays. Gamers who desire a quick fix can also adjust the amount of time a match will last and banish stuff like extra time. You can even control how strict the referee is, meaning players can perform some outrageous tackles on the opposition with absolutely no repercussions.

Strategy fans who wish to take on a more managerial role can alter the team's playing positions when they're on the pitch and may decide on a defensive or offensive line-up according to the opposition's strengths. This is always worth spending a little time on and I played several enjoyable games between Liverpool and Everton which had significantly different outcomes simply by changing the striker and defender options.

Another useful feature I hadn't encountered before is the 'replay', which can either be viewed automatically or manually. This allows you to view the action step by step and helps you pinpoint your team's strengths and more importantly, weaknesses.

If you have a friend, an extra copy of the game and the GBA link-up cable, you'll be pleased to know that a two-player option is also available. I don't need to convince anyone that this is the best way to play a soccer game (or any sports game for that matter) because even with the variety of in-game options available, you simply can't beat the interactivity and strategical possibilities of another human opponent.

Thankfully, there are also two save slots, which is essential for some of the longer competitions that can consist of around forty separate matches and take hours to complete.


You might initially find the control system a little complicated but trust me, as soon as you've mastered it, you'll discover that it offers great maneuverability and greater ball control.

On a positive note, your players are reasonably intelligent and will pass to the closest player available with great ease. Getting the ball from your opponent, however, will require either a conservative or hard tackle, with the latter resulting in a booking if the referee sees you.

Goal kicks, penalties and corners are also given a greater degree of control thanks to a directional pointer indicating exactly where the ball's going and at what gradient. All this adds up to a degree of control only previously encountered on home consoles and the fact that it's all available on the GBA is a major achievement.


The side-scrolling 3/4 overhead perspective and close camera works well to show clearly what's happening on the pitch for the majority of the game, while the small radar at the base of the screen is a helpful indication of where all the players are.

There are also many well-designed menu and statistic screens, which make inputting and extracting information incredibly easy even on the GBA's tiny screen. The real highlights, however, are the wonderfully animated (not to mention big) players that not only look like they're playing football but actually enjoying it too. This is apparent especially when a goal is scored and you get to see the scoring team performing their own unique victory dance, which is a good incentive to score as many goals as you can.

Sound & Music

As with Exient's other football titles, the audio in FIFA Football 2003 is top notch and although there's little in the way of music, the actual in-game sound effects do a great deal to enhance the game. As such, you'll not only hear the crowd moan in disappointment after a near miss at goal, but also cheer if the ball finds its way past the goalkeeper. I must say that FIFA Football 2003 is one of the very few GBA titles to successfully harness dynamic sound effects in order to enhance the realism and atmosphere of the game. So make sure you have your headphones plugged in to really enjoy it.

Final Comments

FIFA Football 2003 has it all - great graphics, addictive gameplay, a multitude of options, two-player link-up and even a battery save. There are some minor niggles, such as the required additional copy of the game for the two-player link-up mode but these fade into insignificance when compared against the huge range of outstanding features. In short, FIFA Football 2003 would be a great addition to any soccer fans GBA collection and is undoubtedly one of the best titles yet to celebrate "the beautiful game".

@ EAGB Advance 2002. All rights reserved.