• Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: Aug 30, 2004

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
Buy Now
Buy on
  1. Play Magazine
    Let me get it out in the open right away - ESPN NHL 2K5 may be the best hockey game you'll ever play. [Dec 2004, p.103]
  2. The improvements in the gameplay become obvious the second you’re slammed against the boards or the very instant you perform a snap shot at just the precise moment the other team’s defense drops.
  3. 92
    Harder hits, smarter AI, better gameplay, a deeper Franchise Mode, and online leagues? Yeah, there's a lot going on this year to be happy about. It's not all perfect -- in fact, there are a few things I have major issue with -- but overall NHL 2K5 is the only hockey game you need.
  4. An incredible hockey package that's filled with more game modes than you'll probably know what to do with. And once again they've orchestrated the best hockey gameplay you're going to find anywhere.
  5. When you combine the depth of gameplay, breadth of modes and quality of delivery with the salary-cap friendly $19.99 price tag, it’s easy to see how ESPN NHL 2K5 stays on top of its division.
  6. More than just a slight improvement over last year’s version. It’s my favorite version to date primarily due to the reduction of goalie ability. While the neutral zone play isn’t there like the past, overall the game plays better than ever.
  7. The default difficulties are done so well that you'll have to play a lot to even consider going into the slider screen.
  8. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    Bells, whistles, and foghorns aside, it really feels like hockey. And it's only 20 bucks. [Oct 2004, p.99]
  9. GamePro
    Despite the shortcomings, ESPN NHL 2K4 is the Cup champ because it really plays and, aside from the rather sluggish-moving players, feels like a hockey simulation should. [Dec 2004, p.144]
  10. AceGamez
    The best in its genre - period. There's something on offer for everybody, it's great for the serious hockey fan, it's fantastic if you have a few mates around to play in party mode or even buzz in on the trivia games and it's even soothingly, surprisingly good fun for the casual gamer.
  11. The controls are perfect for a hockey game while also only being as difficult as you want them to be.
  12. More of an evolutionary product than a revolutionary one in the series.
  13. The multiplayer gameplay alone makes this a sports title worth owning.
  14. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    For me, the big thing is feeling like I'm actually on the ice. ESPN's physics and skating put me there. "NHL 2005" is too stiff compared with the flow in 2K5. [Oct 2004, p.99]
  15. Aside from the lack of internet play (although there is the option of 8 player gaming thanks to the joy of the multitap), it could be said that this is as close as gaming has ever come to a classic Ice
  16. PSM Magazine
    The actual hockey is a bit of a mixed bag in 2K5. It still controls beautifully (that "smoothness" we mentioned earlier), and the gameplay is again top-notch - once you tweak it that is. The default settings are pretty awful. [Oct 2004, p.31]
  17. 80
    EA's game may be slightly deeper from a control perspective, but it's not as much of a blast to play. Between the classic ice and addictive battle mode games, we're more than willing to substitute this game for the real thing, if need be.
  18. GMR Magazine
    True icenicks will revel in the new dream mode and party mode. [Oct 2004, p.106]
  19. ESPN is a top-shelf pick that has an unrivaled franchise mode, but the gameplay doesn't have the hard-hitting finesse of EA's "NHL".[Sept 2004, p.103]
  20. Realistic, challenging and far from ugly, the development team have put in a good performance here. I can't help feeling that a little more could have been done to round the package off, but even without online play, the game is still a decent proposal for hockey fans.
  21. In truth there wasn't much wrong with last season's ESPN NHL Hockey, and the minimal changes aren't enough to justify buying NFL 2K5 as well. [PSW]
  22. It offers a beguiling mix of arcade action and serious simulation.
  23. An absolute must for Hockey fans as well as anyone who likes sports games.
  24. Ultimately, this is an enjoyable and involving game, marred by an unhelpful interface and over-complicated controls. There’s a decent game hiding in there somewhere - if you’re willing to persevere.
  25. It seems to be, in the end, a victory of quantity over quality – the parts are decent enough, but not to the degree that we can strongly recommend it. If you’re a cheapskate or just fancy a bit of action on the ice, however, it could be worth a look.

Awards & Rankings

#84 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2004
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. JamesC.
    Apr 21, 2005
    Way better than EA sports. you wont get much better. last years rosters a bit disappointing.
  2. BobP.
    Sep 6, 2004
    I'm not much of a sports fan, so the real draw for me was the game's $20 price tag. It's a bit much on the full sims side of I'm not much of a sports fan, so the real draw for me was the game's $20 price tag. It's a bit much on the full sims side of sports but the graphics and gameplay tend to be on the better than I'd expected it to be for a $20 game. The weekest point is that the game still has last year's roster/stats. Full Review »
  3. Nov 18, 2016
    Likely the best hockey game released by 2K sports. The gameplay is fluid, the controls are great, the graphics are not as good as in NHL 2005,Likely the best hockey game released by 2K sports. The gameplay is fluid, the controls are great, the graphics are not as good as in NHL 2005, but still serviceable . I really like the historic teams 2K included in the game. Full Review »