Somewhere Deep in the Caribbean…
Return to Monkey Island Review
Zen 4 ushers in a new era for AMD CPU performance when it comes to straight-up gaming.
AMD Ryzen 7600X Review - Gaming Excellence
Alongside DLSS 3 and the Next Generation of Ray-Tracing
GeForce RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 Announced!
Forspoken from Luminous Productions might be something of a sleeper-hit this year, here's why!
Hands-On with Forspoken - Magical Parkour Engage!
Christmas 2003 Games Wrapup
Post by trog @ 09:39pm 20/12/02 | Comments
Here's a brief look at a bunch of the big name titles that are on the shelves this Christmas, as well as some quick impressions.

The following is a brief run down on a variety of titles that gamers might find worth checking out over Christmas. Some of these titles are old, and some of them are new, but I many of the games are still played regularly and I thought it might be worth putting down some impressions for them to give people a chance to check them out.


As always, there are heaps of sports games on the market. EA Sports dominates with a huge range of titles catering to almost every taste. EA Sports Australia also offers a bunch of games locally tailored for the Australian audience.

In addition to the regular sports titles, a new genre is slowly gaining ground - action sports. Games such as Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 and others in Activision's O2 range of games are appealing to a wide audience, and offer fast and fun gameplay.

Here is a look at a few of the titles on offer this Christmas:

EA Sports Total Club Manager 2003
Platform: PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts

VRBones has done a review of this title - here's a snippet:
One of the first choices of the game is probably one of the biggest. Along with choosing the number of players, you get to choose whether to start as a manger for hire, a manager already hired at your chosen club, or fixed club. Fixed club allows you to always stay at your club, regardless of the performance you do.

Total Club Manager Demo

Rallisport Challenge
Platform: PC / Xbox
Publisher: Microsoft

Rallisport Challenge is one of the new generation of off-road rally driving games. It features 29 fully licensed Rally vehicles, 48 tracks across 4 different terrains, and multiplayer action. Developed by Dice (developers of Battlefield 1942), the game uses their impressive 3d technology to deliver a fast-paced racing game. Definitely worth a look if you're into the racing games.

RalliSport Challenge Demo

EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
Platform: PC / Xbox / PlayStation 2 / GameCube
Publisher: Electronic Arts

This is definitely only one for the golfers - while a lot of other games are easy to get into for the casual gamer, I personally have so little interest in golf that even the mere mention of it makes my eyes glaze over as my brain goes catatonic in an attempt to avoid having to absorb any of it. However, there are a lot of golfers out there, and some of them no doubt enjoy playing PC games.

Visually, Tiger Woods is right up there, with some impressive scenes. The models and animations are very well done, and the environments are pretty nice as well. There are 12 different courses, including Pebble Beach, plus a bunch of famous golfers that you can play with. The PC version allows you to play online through EA Sports Online, which offers a good challenge for people that are really keen to get into the game.

Overall, one for the keen golfer, but if golf isn't your cup of tea, stick to
the action sports games.

Tiger Woods PGA 2003 Demo

EA Sports NHL 2003
Platform: PC / Xbox / PlayStation 2 / GameCube
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Ice hockey is a game that anyone can watch. Nice and fast and brutal, and the EA Sports conversion is no less so. This is a nice, simple sports game that just about anyone can pick up and get into, but obviously targetted more towards the true hockey fans.

The game features great visuals, on par with the recent EA offerings, and a big soundtrack including titles from artists such as Papa Roach and Queens of the Stone Age. For the PC gaming crowd, EA Sports Online is there when you're ready to compete seriously. If you're an NHL fan, this is practically a must have, but is nice and accessible for the casual gamer as well.

NHL 2003 Demo

EA Sports FIFA Soccer 2003
Platform: PC / Xbox / PlayStation 2 / GameCube
Publisher: Electronic Arts

FIFA 2002 was a game that took me by surprise - I had an absolute blast playing this on the Xbox and PC when it was released, timed perfectly to catch the gamers in the height of World Cup fever. I was quite surprised when 2003 came out so soon after, and was really looking forward to giving it a bash.

The game has gone through some enhancements since the 2002 version, although not enough such that I would call it revolutionary. Visually the game is still excellent and looks great. Controls on the PC are a bit awkward initially, especially when compared to the Xbox version, but you'll get used to them soon enough. 8 player action on the PC over LAN is really great fun as well.

If you're into soccer, I would go so far as to call this game a must have. For the fans, it has all the features you would want, including officially licensed teams, uniforms and players - over 10,000 players are featured, and they've even gone to the detail of giving most of them faces so you can tell who they are. For the casual gamer, it is a great game to kick back to on the couch with some mates and have a crack at each other over. Great visuals, great sound effects, and great gameplay.

FIFA 2003 Demo

Rally Fusion: Race of Champions
Platform: Xbox / PlayStation 2
Publisher: Activision

Rally Fusion is another impressive entry in the rally driving genre. Right from the start this game impresses - it features some really amazing visuals, especially on the Xbox where the high detail shows - the textures are really crisp and the visual effects are fantastic. I'm by no means a racing game expert but I found the handling of the cars to be nice and the gameplay well suited for my below-average rally skills.

Feature-wise, there are 19 cars on offer, which you can unlock as you progress through the game. All the cars are fully licensed and modelled in great detail. There are 24 tracks, again which you unlock as you progress through the game, over a variety of detailed environments.

Again, not qualified to really compare this game in terms of how it stands up as a driving game, but with its split-screen multiplayer and awesome visuals (oh, the Xbox is so sweet), this is a great one to sit back and have a bash at with a friend.

Tony Hawk' Pro Skater 4
Platform: Xbox / PlayStation 2 / GameCube
Publisher: Activision

The Tony Hawk series continues to do well, and with the latest release Pro Skater 4 looks set to establish itself as a household name. This game is simply great fun and scales itself perfectly to variety of skill levels, with a nice smooth learning curve so anyone can get into it. Again, the Xbox version is visually superior with nice, crisp textures and a great framerate, but the gameplay on all platforms is the same - this game is definitely one to get. The worst thing about it is you're likely to play it for a few hours and come out of it thinking you can skate like Tony, resulting in a broken ankle.

Check out my full review of this game over on Telstra GameArena.

Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer
Platform: Xbox / PlayStation 2 / GameCube
Publisher: Activision

In a similar vein to Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater is the official surfing brand of the Activision O2 series. My biggest complaint about surfing games in the past has always been their so-called "realistic" wave generation engines. Kelly Slater's is pretty good, but still not what I would call realistic - it is definitely starting to take advantage of faster hardware and new technology, and with some more work I'm sure we're going to see it looking fantastic in coming versions.

As with Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater is very similar in terms of gameplay. You've got to bust moves and score points in order to make your way through the game. Overall, I found Tony Hawk's gameplay to be more appealing, but if you're into surfing you might see things differently. Nice graphics, great surfing animations, sweet scenery and nice, smooth gameplay - overall worth a look if you're into the sporting games.

NEXT: First Person Shooters...