NHL Rivals 2004
Although not the best hockey game on the market, NHL Rivals 2004 can be a lot of fun to play and offers up enough multiplayer options to make it worth the money. Don't expect to break any new single player ground. The game features all of the same sorts of controls and functionality you've come to expect from the big hockey games so you'll have no trouble at all playing it relatively well soon after you turn it on.
The four basic buttons control shooting, dekeing, and passing or the basic round up of defensive maneuvers. Your triggers control speed and pivots and the thumbsticks control your movement. The play is relatively smooth, allowing you to swoop back and forth across the ice with little or no stutter.
One of the neat new ideas Rivals adds to the mix is the ability to pick one of three different approaches to a face-off. When the ref drops the puck you can choose between a clean swipe, tying things up with your stick or a body block. There's a whole rock-paper-scissors thing that determines who wins. Although this may seem a little silly, I think it adds to the realism of the game.
Graphics are also relatively well packaged, though there is a noticeable different in the quality of graphics between the players and the audience. It seems that Microsoft isn't in to spending much time on their background graphics ' too bad because it really does add to the overall experience.
The sound is lackluster at best with slow play calls and generic audience white noise. Where this game truly shines is in the realm of online play where the Xbox plugs you into Microsoft's XSN. The game allows you to set up massive tournaments through XSN or play single matches.
The most fun I've had in quite awhile is playing the Rivals pick-up games ' a fast moving, no-sticks-barred, 3-on-3 game of ice hockey on a little ice pond out in the middle of nowhere. The pickup game allows you to hook up with five other Live players to smack around the biscuit. Too bad you can't play with sticks and a rusty old tin can ' now that would bring back memories. Although Rivals may not be the best hockey sim out there, it does offer up a fun in a lot of unique new ways.
Download NHL Rivals 2004
I have given a name to my pain, and it is NHL Rivals. From the second you take to the ice, you'll notice huge problems plaguing this game. First of all, the face-off camera obscures the referee behind one of the players, meaning you can't see the puck being dropped. Then, once play actually starts, everything moves with syrupy slowness and the players' momentum feels very wrong. For kicks, try out the exclusive "pivot
My biggest problems, though, are with the unevenness of the penalties called and shots that go in. I've been dragged down during a breakaway and seen a penalty called only once (not to mention I've never been given a penalty shot). And I've seen slap shots come off defensemen's feet, just because they happen to be near the guy who's supposed to be taking the shot. The whole game feels terribly sloppy and unfinished--there is absolutely no reason to even play Rivals."]
Launching a new sports-game franchise may be tough, but there's no excuse for releasing a game that doesn't feel finished. Rivals is fundamentally flawed: Your teammates constantly wander offside; you actually slow down when you get the puck; players are called for roughing when all they did was bump into another guy; goalies never leave the crease; penalty shots are never called. I even saw a CPU player slip the puck under his net to score on his own team. Fifty dollars for this? Are you high?
I think Greg and Demian woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning (just hopefully not the same bed). Granted, Rivals is clearly not the best hockey game in town, but for a first effort, it could've been worse. All the basics are in place; what the game lacks is finesse. Spotty A.I. leads to a lot of frustrating (and often ridiculous) situations, and the overall pacing is too slow. Support for online leagues is a big plus; if Microsoft can up the realism next year, Rivals could be a contender.