This Is Football 2003 - PS2

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Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Sport: Football - Soccer
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Sony Soft. Co.: Sony
Publishers: Sony (GB)
Released: 4 Oct 2002 (GB)
18 Jul 2003 (GB)
Ratings: 3+
Accessories: Memory Card, Analogue Control Compatible: all buttons
Features: Vibration Function Compatible, Multitap adaptable


The beautiful game just keeps on getting, well, more beautiful. Sony have finally cracked the football genre with This is Football 2003. Discounting the Psone versions in the series, and passing over TIF 2002 (not bad, but no ISS/Pro Evolution) the 2003 model is pretty much there as far as early 21st century soccer titles go. Sony's near-obsessive quest for football heaven is here, and it's made in England: SCEE's London studio has something to be proud of.

Player models haven't been so much upgraded as completely overhauled, with more animation points, resulting in greatly improved player actions and reactions. The sight of a midfielder rubbing his head after taking a whack in the face with the ball illustrated to us just how much thought has gone into this game. Goal celebrations and player reactions to red or yellow cards are varied too. Stadia haven't been forgotten about either, and those featured have larger models, enhanced detail and more advanced lighting. The crowd is a strange bunch, however. Let your focus drift away from the pitch when one of your men is getting a caution from the referee and watch the crowd for a few seconds. However badly your team's performing, the fans are never downhearted. Look out for them and think, '100mph Mexican wave'. They're really quite amusing.

So, This is Football 2003 looks good, but it's not just cosmetic makeover that tempts you to part with your hard-earned. Re-vamped AI means that players behave in a more logical way, both individually and as a team. Your keeper, for example, will stray off his line more frequently, reading the field of play. There's also a broader selection of formations and strategies for the manager in you to choose from. To add to the game's longevity, further competitions have been added, taking the number of trophies up for grabs to a mind-boggling total of over sixty. TIF 2003 spans the world, see: there are teams in the selection menu that even the most hardened footy fan will struggle to place. You can get your teeth into the new career mode and take young school teams up through the semi-pro ranks to the lower divisions and beyond.

Let's give the props to Sony's London studio, then. Their hard work and attention to detail has brought PS2 owners a football game to seriously rival any contender from Konami, and easily puts one over on EA Sports' FIFA series. Is this Football, 2003-style? It certainly is.