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'NFL Fever 2003' Kicks Off New Season on Xbox

by Thomas on Aug. 7, 2002 @ 8:42 p.m. PDT

While pro football players are working up a sweat getting ready for the upcoming season, football video game fans are developing a certain "fever" in anticipation of the newest release for the Xbox video game system from Microsoft Corp. "NFL Fever 2003" hits store shelves this week, and like all great sports franchises, this one made significant improvements during the off-season.

The biggest addition to the all-star assortment of features is online gaming: "NFL Fever 2003" will be the first title to appear on Xbox Live, the revolutionary new broadband gaming experience being introduced this fall. It will be like getting two games for the price of one, because for the first part of the NFL season gamers will be able to play their friends, families and neighbors. Then, when Xbox Live is introduced this November, subscribers to Xbox Live will be able to take on challengers from around the world to determine who is the real champion of "NFL Fever 2003."

Lots of other new features were added in the off-season, including up-to- the minute NFL schedules, updated rosters, the newly redesigned NFL divisions, the latest uniforms, the new stadiums and even the new Houston Texans. Of course, when you have one of the best in the business at quarterback, you don't make a change there, so Indianapolis Colts All-Pro Quarterback Peyton Manning returns as the cover athlete and spokesman for "NFL Fever 2003."

"During the development of 'NFL Fever 2003,' Peyton Manning worked tirelessly with our production team to improve on the overwhelming success of last year's game," said Pat Cook, Sports Studio manager for Microsoft Game Studios. "Along with Xbox Live, football fans will be treated to the greatest football gaming experience ever."

The most anticipated "rookie" addition to the Xbox lineup is the Xbox Communicator, a unique headset, available in November as part of the Xbox Live starter kit, allowing gamers to trash-talk their friends (or enemies) while playing on Xbox Live. So not only will gamers be able to relive those long runs or aerial bombs with the "NFL Fever 2003" replay feature, they'll also be able to provide their own personal commentary, letting their opponent know who's king of the gridiron.

"Fever" fans also can look forward to improved animation and graphics as well as numerous new gameplay and customization features, such as an enhanced uniform and player editor, hidden stadiums, and the ability to play multiple 25-year dynasty modes.

With the new Super Bowl Challenge feature, "NFL Fever 2003" gamers will be challenged by a past championship team immediately after capturing the Super Bowl trophy. If they defeat this legendary team, a handful of its players are released into free agency for the subsequent season, raising the game's overall talent pool.

Fans can unlock even more classic teams through the all-new Classic Challenge. The farther players advance in the Classic Challenge ladder tournament, the more classic teams are unlocked. Other new features include an offensive and defensive play editor, defensive hot routes, an expanded post- game highlight reel, and a My Plays icon, which lets players access their favorite plays on the fly.

"NFL Fever 2003" also introduces veteran broadcaster Kevin Calabro as the new play-by-play voice. Sports fans have enjoyed Calabro as the voice of the NBA's Seattle Sonics and Microsoft's "NBA Inside Drive" basketball franchise. Joining Calabro in the booth is former NFL player and "NFL Fever" veteran Ron Pitts.

"NFL Fever 2003" is available wherever Xbox games are sold at the estimated retail price of $49.99 (U.S.).

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