Metascore
65

Mixed or average reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 39
  2. Negative: 4 out of 39
  1. Impresses with smooth, realistic game play and rib-cage-crushing intensity.
  2. It's gorgeous. The uniforms look like cloth (meaning they aren't shiny), while the ice and the plastic visors shine like the real thing. The physics are exciting and, because of the realism, the hits feel more devastating.
  3. Xbox Live integrates into this title and elevates it to a level not seen in hockey in years. While the game won't take the crown from "Blades of Steel," it certainly can hold its own against almost any hockey game out right now.
  4. Whilst this is Microsoft’s first venture onto the ice, it does quite a respectable job at recreating the action, speed and excitement of the game of hockey.
  5. A good game with solid animation, and a terrific passing system. The game may not be one of the top scorers in the league, but it set up the goal scoring opportunity very well.
  6. Features slick controls, an outstanding presentation, and challenging play. Unfortunately, the game’s AI is a little too challenging to the point of being too difficult.
  7. Part of a very stable genre, Rivals has no glaring flaws. It's only what other titles have in additional teams, game modes and animations that might be the difference.
  8. 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.
  9. In essence (online play) transforms it from being a non-descript hockey title, to the hockey game to own. What more can we say?
  10. While it doesn’t compare to "ESPN NHL Hockey" in terms of better control and game play Rivals makes up for it with the XSN sports community which you can use to create virtual leagues and better online capabilities.
  11. Everything is here for great hockey; it just lacks the flair or polish of the competition, but in all fairness, this is a debut effort as opposed to the other games that have been around for years.
  12. The Live enabled play is a big plus. The rest is not on par with Rivals' rivals (sorry, bad pun) like EA, ESPN and Sega.
  13. Gameplay falls right where it should be - not too fast, not too slow - just like hockey should be. [Dec 2003, p.98]
  14. 75
    With all this going for it, it's a shame the single-player game is so humdrum.
  15. If you think you will play on-line, then it is worth getting.
User Score
8.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. BlueFalcon
    Mar 9, 2005
    5
    There are a few things that this game does better than any other hockey series. But for the most part, it's not quite up to par. The There are a few things that this game does better than any other hockey series. But for the most part, it's not quite up to par. The graphics need a lot of work, but I very much like the different camera angles during replays. I think this series could be a contender with some relatively minor upgrades. But as it is, I wouldn't recommend it. Full Review »
  2. AnttiK.
    Jan 24, 2004
    10
    Excellent game. The Real Suprise. I've played all new NHL-games and this is the best of all. I hope that next year custom soundtracks Excellent game. The Real Suprise. I've played all new NHL-games and this is the best of all. I hope that next year custom soundtracks are also available during gameplaying. Full Review »
  3. BillD.
    Dec 11, 2003
    8
    I sometimes wonder who is pocketing the magazines.They loved EA NHL 2004 (which ea keeps handing us the same crap for the past 5 years) and I sometimes wonder who is pocketing the magazines.They loved EA NHL 2004 (which ea keeps handing us the same crap for the past 5 years) and they don't like NHL Rivals(A good first year effort thats more fun than EA) Do they know anything about the sport?This game Is alot of fun!Sure it's gotta a few flaws but,for a 1st year effort,it is a good solid game.It not as deep as others.Controls are sharp,graphics are very crisp.Best arena music.The fighting engine is the best so far and it acyually works!.This game shine on the pro level . Its a blast to play.Could easily topple EA NHL with refinements and deeper play.Did I mention how fun this game is?If I had to pick only one hockey game this year .It would be Sega NHL2k4,but I would miss NHL Rivals alot. Full Review »