E3 2003: NHL 2004 Hands-On Impressions
As I watched NHL 2004 before playing, I wasnít overly excited about trying the game. Last yearís version really fell off as the top hockey game to own and in this yearís game isnít anything extraordinary. The player models are average and the game just seems to lack polish in certain areas. When I did finally play the game, my assumptions were somewhat confirmed. NHL 2004 doesnít control as nicely as I would have hoped and itís rather sluggish in gameplay. I understand that EA is trying to accomplish a simulated experience and is attempting to avoid an arcade-like feel, but for me the game was just rather boring. Apparently the gameís biggest feature is new fight animations; however, from what I played the checking and physical portion of the game was rather uninspired.
As far as hockey titles go, Iíd still have to give Midway and Sega the upper hand. Both companies last year proved that they had what it takes to compete with an EA Sports game, and not only did they compete, theyíve downright outdone themselves for superiority. Iím really surprised EA wasnít able to rebound from last year, but at its current state NHL 2004 is nothing spectacular. I was informed that the game will have an outstanding franchise mode, so that will be something to look forward to. However, as it stands now, NHL 2004 lacks the excitement and speed that hockey fans desire in a hockey game. Weíll continue to update on the game, so stay tuned for further information.
5/15/2003 Matt Stensrud