Conclusion: It was only a certain amount of time before EA Sports finally put the biscuit in the basket with one of their most complete installments in the long running franchise. NHL 2004 is going by the slogan “painfully real hockey,” and these three words represent this game to a tee. The series is turning towards the likes of Madden, with realism being added into every nook and cranny of the game.
Conclusion: If you eat, sleep, and breathe hockey then chances are you’ll purchase a copy of NHL Rivals 2004 just on principle; that’s what I’d do. That being said, Rivals 2004 isn’t able to come close to the level of hockey that their competition has managed this year and being a new franchise mirrors an expansion team in the pros; you can see promise, but there is a long road to hoe.
Excerpt: “Sound the alarm, EA. The NHL franchise needs help – now.” – NHL 2003 review, Digital Sportspage, November 2002 That was the final line of my review of NHL 2003, probably the low point of console hockey for EA Sports. The gameplay was broken in so many areas that I wondered if EA ever would think of putting its ubiquitous logo on a decent hockey sim.
Excerpt: NHL Rivals 2004 like Top spin is Microsoftâ€™s first voyage into the online Hockey arena for the Xbox. NHL Rivals is what Microsoft hopes will counter Segaâ€™s ESPN NHL Hockey (formerly NHL 2K4). While it doesnâ€™t compare to ESPN NHL Hockey in terms of better control and game play Rivals makes up for it with the XSN sports community which you can use to create virtual leagues and better online capabilities. You can also eventually keep track of leagues through your PDA.
Excerpt: When “NHL Rivals 2004” from Microsoft arrived at my “Hockeytown” address for review, I had high hopes. I love Hockey. “Rivals” coverboy Steve Yzerman is not only my favorite hockey player ever, but one of my favorite athletes in the world. I was horribly addicted to all of the other XSN Sports titles that had been released up to that point (except for “NFL Fever”). This was a match made in heaven. Let’s drop the puck!
Excerpt: Not having grown up near an icy pond, or even anywhere near cold weather, I've had to observe the grace and beauty that is hockey from afar. Well, I guess the days of longing for the slick stuff are now over, with the release of NHL Rivals 2004. Coincidentally, it's rather slick outside my window here in lovely SC after a day of sleet, freezing rain, and snow...unfortunately even that doesn't really get me in the mood to strap in and play a game of Rivals.
Excerpt: XSN sports has put Microsoft into the hockey gaming franchise, but in my eyes, failed to be the best at it - even if NHL Rivals 2004, although a bit late and not exactly the best hockey game out there, is definitely a good start. Many differences can be pointed out from this game towards traditional EA series or even Midway's hockey games.
Conclusion: For all of NHL’s advancements and polish, I just couldn’t get over the fact the fun factor has dropped way off in favor of realism – my biggest problem with NHL 2004. You’ll notice this immediately with the absence of Don Taylor doing the color work, and any amusing banter whatsoever between John Hughson and Craig Simpson.