ESPN NHL Hockey Xbox

Metascore
88

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
Buy On
  1. Play Magazine
    100
    The true star of the ESPN NHL Hockey is the play-by-play commentary. Courtesy of ESPN's Gary Throne and Bill Clement, this is some of the best commentary I've ever heard in a hockey game. [Jan 2004, p.80]
  2. The game is outstanding, but I would possibly add the possibility of using downloaded rosters online.
  3. The most significant difference in this latest Sega hockey game is the graphics, really the only weak point in the last edition. Where once clunky uninspired graphics were the norm, now, well-rendered motion capture and realistic athletes put the final polish on an over-the-top game that excels in its field.
  4. Cheat Code Central
    95
    The best Hockey game I have played so far. I love hockey and ESPN gave me the feel of what has been missing in past hockey games. The feeling of total control and not having the computer interfere with the game.
  5. The complete package - awesome graphics, stellar control, and meticulous realism.
  6. All the great things from last year's NHL 2K3 are back and better than ever. Even more bells and whistles have been added, the least of which is the addition of the ESPN name which goes much deeper than just the name itself.
  7. 93
    The finest hockey video game we've ever played...The graphics have been refined, the gameplay has been considerably tightened, the already great control has been made better, and there are several new modes to keep everyone quite happy.
  8. With the new modes of play, and astonishing online play, it will be nearly impossible for any other franchise this year to touch Sega’s masterpiece.
  9. If they can just clean up the fighting and add some extra fire to the Franchise, we’ll definitely be seeing this series' “A” game.
  10. The control is spot-on, player ratings make a huge difference in checking, skating and passing, and it just feels like real on-ice action. ESPN NHL 2K4 has ironed out most of the wrinkles from last year, and turned the presentation up to 11 - you won't find a better playing, better looking, or better sounding hockey game available.
  11. A spectacular follow-up to last year's NHL 2K3, building upon all of the best aspects of that game and correcting the bulk of its flaws.
  12. The controls are perfect, the gameplay is paced just right and the ESPN brand sucks the player in like no other sports title can.
  13. 90
    A stunning game. Graphics, sound and online play benefit the most from the treatment, but there isn't an aspect of gameplay that hasn't received attention, making this the most comprehensive slapshot sim available.
  14. Official Xbox Magazine
    89
    A completely new graphics engine combined with more ESPN-style replays and the excellent play-by-play of Gary Thorne and Bill Clement has vaulted the presentation of ESPN NHL head and shoulders above the competition. [Oct 2003, p.81]
  15. The best hockey game out today is ESPN NHL Hockey.
  16. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    88
    For the second consecutive year, it leaves the competition slack-jawed and two steps behind with its finesse game. Aside from being the best looking of the latest hockey titles, it's also the most realistic. [Oct 2003, p.138]
  17. Getting by the learning curve will yield fantastic results as the game is quite deep, especially in the management of players and teams.
  18. Game Informer
    85
    The title's AI (including the too-strong CPU on the penalty kill) still leaves you in a lurch too often. Finally, I'm still not a huge fan of the dekes. [Oct 2003, p.138]
  19. This is a nice looking, sounding, and smooth game of hockey. The gameplay AI and even Franchise AI is suspect - and below par, in my opinion.
  20. When the gloves come off, ESPN NHL Hockey is really just a manicured version of last year's game. The new graphics engine looks slicker than any competitor's.
  21. Xbox Nation Magazine
    80
    ESPN Hockey's offensive game is sublime... Unfortunately, playing defense can become frustrating, as players are often slow getting back to the goal. [Oct/Nov 2003, p.97]
  22. I miss my sprite-based 16-bit hockey games, deficient opponent AI and all. Somehow I recall enjoying those more than I did ESPN NHL Hockey, even despite all that it brings to the genre: nuanced controls, deep physics and mechanics, a licensed presentation and polished visuals.
  23. 80
    Once the action's underway, however, ESPN NHL is old school all the way in its approach to passing and skating, but it offers the most extensive array of moves, and everything just handles butter-smooth. For sheer playability, its controls rule.
  24. A game that will delight casual and hardcore fans of hockey alike.
  25. 60
    A great choice for gamers who enjoyed "NHL 2K3" but wanted something a little flashier in the audiovisual department. But it isn't as ambitious as "NHL 2004" in terms of control options or depth in franchise play. ESPN Hockey's biggest knock is its goalie AI, which isn't reflective of the sport and seems artificially enhanced in an attempt to create low-scoring games.

Awards & Rankings

#33 Most Discussed Xbox Game of 2003
User Score
8.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 4 out of 18
  1. BenjaminS.
    Jun 19, 2004
    3
    I also can't see why this game is getting such high reviews from serious gamers. Once you get over first impressions and really want to I also can't see why this game is getting such high reviews from serious gamers. Once you get over first impressions and really want to emerse yourself, you're driven crazy by settings that won't save, constant replays that wear out your thumb getting past and a manual that is useless for anything other then controller settings. Having bought the game a couple of weeks ago, I imagine I will be selling it on eBay next week before I get so frustrated that I smash my Xbox!! I don't want a game where I'm controlling an ESPN telecast - I just want to play the game and refer to a manual that tells me how to maximize my experience. Full Review »
  2. AustinW.
    Jan 1, 2004
    4
    A good game, but I'm thoroughly disappointed with the lack of attention to the crowd. Its all about the 2d "paper people" and take my A good game, but I'm thoroughly disappointed with the lack of attention to the crowd. Its all about the 2d "paper people" and take my word for it, it looks horrible. Another flaw that really REALLY dissapointed me was the size of the goalie's mask. ITS HUGE and it looks absolutley AWFUL, not to mention; it doesnt even sport the correct artwork that each goalie wears...it merely replaces it with a solid color and the generic logo of the team on the top. HORRIBLE JOB THERE SEGA. The last and most mentally effective dissapointing feature (or lack thereof) was the non-existence of celebration at the the end of winning a game and even when you win the Stanley Cup, there is HARDLY any celebration. Totally unrealistic. If you dont mind the little details, go ahead and get this, you wont be disappointed but if you expect the great looking goalie masks from EA's NHL 2004 and the amazing crowd of XSN's NHL 2004 Rivals, I would advise you take a pass on this one. Full Review »
  3. JasonP
    Dec 2, 2003
    9
    You AI aint hard, but when you play the game, AI is hard. If it ain AI, its just has hard to pass the puck so they dont get it..