It’s the last Sunday of the month, and as such it’s time for RGM Gaming History where we’ll look at July 2003. Aah I remember it well, I’d finished secondary school (UK equivalent of High School) and the summer was looking good, but maybe not so for Kobe Bryant who was arrested for sexual assault, but it was good for Serena Williams and Roger Federer who won the women’s and men’s Wimbledon titles (respectively…of course). Other than stuff going on in the “real world” there was some great things happening in the world of gaming.
We were still very much in a pre-Steam world on PC (with the first stable version of Steam not coming for another 2 months) but the current-gen consoles of choice were the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2 (and PS1 was still knocking about), and Microsoft’s first foray into console gaming with the Xbox. July 2003 was an OK month for gaming releases, with one game being released which would be a GOTY and heavy contender for Game of the Decade. We’ll get there in the end, but first let’s see what else was released this month.
Pirates of the Caribbean (PC – June 30, 2003 / Xbox July 1, 2003)
This easily forgotten Pirates of the Caribbean game from developer Akella (a Russian dev who has been involved in the Postal games) and published by Bethesda and Ubisoft was not based on the Disney films, was an action-RPG putting the player in the boots of Captain Nathaniel Hawk, who would go on a series of quests in the Caribbean, buy ships, recruit a crew and officers and had fairly decent gameplay both on land and at sea, and even had Keira Knightly doing a little bit of narration. Check out the PC trailer below from PiratesAhoyCommunity on YouTube.
NCAA Football 2004 (PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube – July 16, 2003)
Football! Touchdown! Erm…Super Bowl! OK, I’m probably not the best person to talk about NCAA Football 2004 being an avid “proper” football fan from England, and this game was released solely in North America, but hey, who am I to judge! NCAA Football 2004 was released to massively high scores (>90%) across the board (apart from its eventual N-Gage release in December 2003 which was decisively lower) with a football game that promised a real college atmosphere; more than 150 new teams; over 300 chants; new trick plays; over 65 mascots (20 being new from NCAA Football 2003) and classic teams from the 1920’s through to 2002 – NCAA Football 2004 was (at the time) the definitive college football game for the avid football fan. Check out the trailer below from VGArchive on YouTube.
The Great Escape (PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox – July 23, 2003) [SPOILER ALERT]
One of the most iconic movies of all time, The Great Escape would make an incredible video game especially if taken on by a studio that could to it justice like TellTale Games. However, this was 2003, and it wasn’t TellTale Games, it was Pivotal Games who folded in 2008 and apart from The Great Escape video game developed the Conflict series of games. Anyway, The Great Escape was an action, adventure stealth game that put the player in the position of 4 of the inmates of Stalag Luft III – MacDonald (Gordon Jackson), Hendley (James Garner), Hilts (Steve McQueen) and Sedgewick (James Coburn). The game received average to OK scores (around the 5-7 out of 10 mark) and had an alternate ending to the game where all could escape as opposed to the film where only Sedgewick makes it. Check out the trailer below, from VergilHilts on YouTube.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox – July 15, 2003)
Didn’t I tell you? Way back up there at the start of the article? 2003 GOTY? Contender for Game of the Decade? You’re damn right I did. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was and still is (in my opinion) the greatest Star Wars game of all time. You can keep your Star Wars: Battlefront. I loved games like Tie Fighter, X-Wing and X-Wing vs TIE Fighter – but none of them come close to the majesty and magnificence of KotOR. If you haven’t played it, then you are truly missing out – it’s available on PC through Steam nowadays and there are rumors abound of a possible indie remaster using the Unreal 4 engine, but the original game from 2003 is a true jewel in the Star Wars gaming and BioWare crowns. Set some 4,000 years before the events of the films, KotOR was free to forge its own destiny without the influence of major players like Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Luke Skywalker – and forge they did. KotOR was a classic tale of heroes and villains, the Dark Side and the Light and a plot-twist as big as Darth Vader being Luke and Leia’s pop. With a multitude of ways to play, the story is compelling, the gameplay is immersive and the atmosphere is more like Star Wars than the prequel trilogy by miles. Check out the trailer below from Darth LeBeau’s Star Wars Game Chamber on YouTube (TRUE FACT – I have goosebumps watching the trailer).
So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, RGM Gaming History’s summary of July 2003. Do you remember any of these games with great fondness? Where there any other games from July 2003 that I missed out that you would have included? Do you still play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic? Let us know in the comments below, the RGM Forums or on Twitter.