Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
Buy On
  1. 88
    Mimics the real thing more than ever and therefore the joys of the sport are found in big hits, near misses and brilliant scoring opportunities that barely miss lighting the lamp. If you can get over the fact that scoring is going to be reserved only for those that deserve it.
  2. In a few fundamental ways, the game actually does manage to beat out the opposition, though ultimately it falls a bit short of being the best overall package. It's still a really great hockey game in its own right, though.
  3. Game Informer
    Saying that EA has turned it on this year is the understatement of the century... When it comes to your hard-earned dollar, the puck stops at NHL 2004. It's easly the best hockey title of the year. [Oct 2003, p.121]
  4. 85
    It's remarkable that EA has managed to catch up to the incredible effort from Sega in a single generation, and if it weren't for an overly trying physics engine on the ice, the two would be in a dead heat.
  5. Does a fantastic job for the hardcore hockey fan with endless hours of play in Dynasty mode, but it can’t quite match the competition when it comes to delivery and mechanics... Despite its small faults, NHL 2004 is still one hell of a hockey game.
  6. 80
    Some of its ideas are brilliant innovations, some are wisely appropriated standards, and some just flop - but the overall result is fun, action-oriented, authentic hockey with a few troubling flaws.
  7. For those of you that want a good game of hockey that you can play online and may have a little less simulation than "ESPN NHL Hockey," this game is for you.
  8. Play Magazine
    Not to be outdone, EA Sports has upped the ante with NHL 2004 and it truly has left me speechless. What am I so excited about? One word - Dynasty Mode... For hockey fans, this is a no brainer. [Sept 2003, p.88]
  9. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    Too much force and not enough finesse - that's the problem with EA's puck offering. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting' physical, but not when it comes at the cost of disrupting the natural flow of hockey. [Oct 2003, p.138]
  10. 90
    This is almost certainly the best release in the history of the NHL series and one of the most authentic action-oriented sports games currently on the market.
  11. It's true that NHL 2004 is a tougher game to get involved with compared to past versions of the franchise. But, with more leagues (including elite world clubs), more players and new enhanced moves, there is plenty here for fans to enjoy, if you have the stamina to master it all, that is.
  12. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    It's a good time - just not as much fun as "ESPN NHL" down on the ice. But it's easily the most full-featured hockey game ever to come along. [Oct 2003, p.121]
  13. PSM Magazine
    Difficult on anything but the easiest setting. You can't go five seconds without getting crushed by the opposition...It has the right mix that will win over hardcore hockey fans. [Oct 2003, p.38]
  14. While the game moved from the arcade feel to more a realistic feel, the impressive graphics remain.
  15. The truth is that simulation freaks who want their hockey tough and real could do no better. Arcade lovers should probably look elsewhere.
  16. netjak
    Dynasty mode will be a draw for those who have an interest in the management side of hockey. That aside, ESPN NHL Hockey is simply the better game in just about every respect.
  17. GMR Magazine
    If only the visual polish matched the immaculate accuracy of the gameplay. [Oct 2003, p.67]
  18. GameNow
    Yes, checking is part of hockey, but it's overdone in NHL 2004. [Oct 2003, p.62]
  19. Playboy
    Expanded fight controls include grappling, punch selection and the ability to pull off the gloves whenever rink rage overcomes you. [Oct 2003, p.37]

Awards & Rankings

#38 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2003
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 53 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 53
  2. Negative: 11 out of 53
  1. TylerS.
    Nov 24, 2003
    It's the best game ever.
  2. DanielD.
    Sep 23, 2003
    The game play has improved dramatically... and speaking from the stand point of playing hockey I really appreciate finally being able to move The game play has improved dramatically... and speaking from the stand point of playing hockey I really appreciate finally being able to move the puck where I want! Not where the player is pointed (watch Jagr for a game and you will know what I am saying!)... the AI is smarter and allows you to develope plays rather than just SHOOT/SCORE from the same place over and over. I think this games is just a small step away from being perfect... just make the defensemen skate like defense and not wingers! (and a few more indorsements in the gear to choose for all the real players not just gamers) and a few small touches and it will be the grail... just as long as they don't try to go back to 3D 1st person again!!!! Worth Buying... if you want hockey... not NHL Hitz. Full Review »
  3. Jul 9, 2016
    NHL 2004 introduced a plethora of new features. New leagues were added, these include the Finnish SM Liiga, German DEL and Swedish Elitserien.NHL 2004 introduced a plethora of new features. New leagues were added, these include the Finnish SM Liiga, German DEL and Swedish Elitserien. Don Taylor was replaced by Craig Simpson with Jim Hughson returning as a play by play commentator. The stick handling has been largely improved. The engine has seen a major overhaul as well. Full Review »