STAFF REVIEW of NHL Rivals 2004 (Xbox)

Monday, December 1, 2003.
by Chr0nik

NHL Rivals 2004 Box art Earlier this year, Microsoft announced NHL Rivals 2004, the company's very first attempt at the sport of professional ice hockey. Rivals 2004 is a simulation-style hockey game that clearly draws influence from gameplay elements found in both EA and Sega's NHL games. Unfortunately, NHL Rivals 2004 doesn't do much to set itself apart from the competition, and, additionally, it has some rather problematic flaws that deteriorate its gameplay to the level of subpar, at best.

Gameplay is a mix between NHL Hitz and EA Sports NHL2004. Gameplay controls are fairly easy to get the hang of. If you have played hockey games in your life, it should only take you a period or so to get used to all the controls. Gamspot sums it all up with the following comment "NHL Rivals 2004 is most certainly geared to cater to fans of simulation hockey but lacks the cohesive gameplay of its competitors. The game just feels very loose and sloppy in some key areas. Specifically, Rivals' AI is often questionable at best, especially when it comes to goalies.

Compared to the other available hockey games on the market, NHL Rivals ranks at the bottom.

NHL Rivals' graphics are probably one of its strongest features, but they still have alot of work to do for next years incarnation. Ice Textures are very nice as well as arena detailing. Player models and animation are average at best. Animation is often choppy and player models do not justly represent the actual look of a character. Seeing that this is a first party Microsoft game, there is no reason why they are not fully utilizing and exploiting the Xbox's graphic capability.

The only good thing about the sound in this game is the custom soundtracks and the crowd reactions. Game commentary is awful and is extremely repetative. It often "clips" or gets cutoff.

Play ESPN hockey and take alot of notes. If MS wants to be a real player in the Hockey video game market, they need to step up to the plate with next years release and give the fans what they want.

Overall: 5.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 4.0 / 10


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