NHL 2004/ESPN Hockey

Impossibles
09-25-2003, 03:53 PM
Anybody bought it yet?

If so, let us know what platform you bought it for and what you think about it.

incawg
09-25-2003, 03:59 PM
ESPN Hockey for xbox (i'll be picking up NHL 2004 early next week so I can do a direct comparison).

This is my first time venturing away from the EA series.

The gameplay is pretty fluid. It "feels" very good. Controls are pretty responsive. My only problem here is that the deking system stinks. Or maybe I just stink at it. Anyway, I like the EA-style of deking much better. I feel useless on breakaways with the ESPN system.

Graphics leave something to be desired. I know the xbox is capable of much better.

Sounds are awful. The only redeeming factor is that they have good arena music (the classic songs with lyrics) and individual team chants. But the play-by-play and commentaries are brutal compared to the EA series. You basically have no choice but to mute it.

Lots of extras. Tons of teams, jersies, mini-games, collectibles, etc. Excellent replay value here.

They have the 1994 canucks team, which is the first thing I unlocked, but - to my dismay - they're missing pretty much all the player names! Guys are just listed as "Center 1", "Goalie 2". I have a feeling it has to do with the NHLPA but it still stinks.

Overall it's pretty decent, but I have a feeling that I'll enjoy NHL 2004 more, if for no other reason than that I'm used to the gameplay engine.

Jussi
09-25-2003, 04:18 PM
ESPN Hockey for xbox (i'll be picking up NHL 2004 early next week so I can do a direct comparison).

Graphics leave something to be desired. I know the xbox is capable of much better.

Sounds are awful. The only redeeming factor is that they have good arena music (the classic songs with lyrics) and individual team chants. But the play-by-play and commentaries are brutal compared to the EA series. You basically have no choice but to mute it.

They have the 1994 canucks team, which is the first thing I unlocked, but - to my dismay - they're missing pretty much all the player names! Guys are just listed as "Center 1", "Goalie 2". I have a feeling it has to do with the NHLPA but it still stinks.



That's odd, most reviews I've read have praised the graphics, especially the players faces.

And the same goes for the sound. The play-by-play has been hailed as the best in hockey video game history. Or did you actually find that Don Taylor funny?

They would have needed permission from every player on the historic teams to have them in the game. This page should help with those rosters: http://www.wewantthecup.4t.com/NHL2K4/Historicrosters.html

As for gameplay problems, the Thunderpuck forums have some threads dedicated to different slider settings. I found my settings (with some personal modification) for 2K3 from there.

Peter Griffin
09-25-2003, 04:29 PM
I have ESPN for the PS2 and it's great. The graphics are much improved from last year, especially the player faces which are the best I've seen in any hockey video game. The game plays like real hockey(teams will set up on the power play and wait for their chances, teams such as the Wild will forecheck heavily and then fall back into the trap). I personally think the sounds are great, the commentary is much improved. It's a lot better then NHL 2003 commentary which was just plain sad. The best thing about the sounds are in the arena. Fans will chant their team's names as well as specific players(Canucks fans chant "Cloutier, Cloutier,Cloutier") and the goal horns are amazing(every team has the right horn). It's a very realistic and enjoyable game.

incawg
09-25-2003, 04:32 PM
That's odd, most reviews I've read have praised the graphics, especially the players faces.

Relative to other hockey games that graphics are good, but they don't have that "wow" factor. And after playing Soul Calibur II the graphics look 8-bit ;) I'm just saying that the potential is there to do much better.

And the same goes for the sound. The play-by-play has been hailed as the best in hockey video game history. Or did you actually find that Don Taylor funny?

I suppose the play-by-play isn't so bad (although hughson's voice is better imo) but I find the commentary ridiculously repetitive and brutally inaccurate (for example, in their pre-game analysis of the canucks they called them a "strong defensive-oriented team"). And yes, I will take Don Taylor's inane comments any day of the week over Clement telling me that "This Player" is "Good Defensively" or "Good Offensively" at every single stoppage in play...especially when I'm well aware that it's not even an accurate description of the player in question and that player had nothing to do with the preceding play.

nazzy
09-25-2003, 04:38 PM
I have NHL 2004 for PC, one of the best EA hockey games in year, I love the gameplay and it's not too easy to win anymore against the computer.

KOMO_ROCKS
09-25-2003, 04:44 PM
nhl 2004 for Playstation is a pretty damn good game....I have had it for close to a week now....good to try out all the teams at first

IceMelter
09-25-2003, 05:05 PM
I just got NHL 2004 for PS2 today, I think it's awesome, no longer can I deke through three players and score like peanuts.

The clutching and grabbing is a real part of the game and they use it well.

Only thing that sucks is I was used to controling my players using those arrow buttons, now I got to use the stick, will just take me awhile to get used to gliding around players.

LaVal
09-25-2003, 05:18 PM
NHL 2004 is complete crap. those who actually like it need to give ESPN Hockey a try which is so much better it's not even funny.

i would normally go through and list the problems with a game but 2004 just has too many to list.

Canadian Chris
09-25-2003, 05:47 PM
I played both....and will likely be playing both again tonight...and personally, I'll take EA over ESPN....

I loved NHL 2K3 last year, and despised 2003.....this year, I LOVE 2004, and don't have a huge hate for ESPN, just it doesn't feel quite as nice as EA does....personal preference? Probably....but my opinions are mine, and unless you can show me something substantial to change them, I doubt I will because EA just kicks some serious ass

KOMO_ROCKS
09-25-2003, 05:49 PM
NHL 2004 is complete crap. those who actually like it need to give ESPN Hockey a try which is so much better it's not even funny.

i would normally go through and list the problems with a game but 2004 just has too many to list.

and your flaws of nhl 2004 EA would be? At least back up your point

KOMO_ROCKS
09-25-2003, 05:50 PM
EA just kicks some serious ass

I tend to agree with that :handclap:

LaVal
09-25-2003, 05:52 PM
and your flaws of nhl 2004 EA would be? At least back up your point

my quote

i would normally go through and list the problems with a game but 2004 just has too many to list

lets just say everything minus franchise mode, graphics, and commentary. i might make a list later on. let it be known however that i say this based on the fact that i prefer a realistic hockey simulation over an arcade game. the game may be fun for someone who doesn't care if it's realistic or not.

KOMO_ROCKS
09-25-2003, 05:54 PM
my quote

i would normally go through and list the problems with a game but 2004 just has too many to list

lets just say everything minus franchise mode, graphics, and commentary. i might make a list later on. let it be known however that i say this based on the fact that i prefer a realistic hockey simulation over an arcade game. the game may be fun for someone who doesn't care if it's realistic or not.

I disagree with your assessment, though you are entitled to your opinion. This game kicks ass

incawg
09-25-2003, 05:54 PM
It really is a matter of personal preference. Overall, ESPN has gotten better reviews but usually it's by a small margin. I'd recommend renting them both before buying.

The other game not being talked about much, but getting solid reviews, is NHL Hitz Pro. I'll give that a try too when it comes out. Apparently midway has opted for a more simulation-feel to their game.

KOMO_ROCKS
09-25-2003, 05:56 PM
I have NHL 2004 for PC, one of the best EA hockey games in year, I love the gameplay and it's not too easy to win anymore against the computer.

Hey, how's Terrace....I lived in Kitimat, B.C for 14 years....it was a 1 hour drive from Terrace

nazzy
09-25-2003, 06:08 PM
Hey, how's Terrace....I lived in Kitimat, B.C for 14 years....it was a 1 hour drive from Terrace

Haha ****imat. :D About 45 minutes away acutally, Terrace is the same, a lot of natives as usual, the economy is pretty bad right now but it's liveable.

KOMO_ROCKS
09-25-2003, 06:11 PM
Haha ****imat. :D About 45 minutes away acutally, Terrace is the same, a lot of natives as usual, the economy is pretty bad right now but it's liveable.

My parents got divorced in 94' , so I am living in Richmond, B.C now for the past 9 years. We lived on Columbia Street in Kitimat...dad still works at Alcan in Kitimat. I will come there next year, to celebrate my 10 year leave ;)

Frightened Inmate #2
09-25-2003, 06:35 PM
Kitimat... holy crap i thought i was the only one.

But I used to live on Dunn street, which is my last name also. but I moved when i was 4 and never looked back.

ping
09-25-2003, 06:40 PM
I rented ESPN Hockey 2004 for a week but I haven't played NHL 2004.

I had NHL 2003 last year and hated it because it was so unrealistic. When normal games are 17-11 you know there's a problem. However I do realize that NHL 2004 is apparently a totally new different game more on the simulation side.

(All this is compared to NHL2k3)
I owned NHL2k3 last year. ESPN Hockey 2004 is a major upgrade over 2k3. ESPN has better graphics (the faces are just great) and a much better commentator (Last year was brutal). ESPN has tons of options and sliders to adjust difficulties. Like others said the chants in the game are pretty cool. There are 5 difficulty levels with 1-2 being for high scoring games and 3-5 for the simulation games. There are also features this year like playing in an Outdoor Rink. I played it a couple of times. I think there are no line changes, no rules, 5v5, but played like normal hockey. This mode is great for multiplayer. The 2v2 mini-rink game is kindof fun. It's 2v2 plus a goalie for each team. It's a sped up game of hockey with bouncy boards so the puck will move around quite a bit. You've also got the skills competition which I think is really well done. There's even a simple air hockey game that you can play. There are plenty of jerseys and teams and a few modes to unlock. I unlocked all the Canucks ones. Yes even the stick one. Oh and if you have an Xbox don't forget about their unparralled online mode.

I really liked this game and I'll probably buy it but I want to see what NHL Rivals 2004 is like first. It sounds pretty good.

Graphics - 10
Gameplay - 10
Controls - 8
Sound - 9 (Big improvement over last year)
Features - 8.5 (Xbox Live, sliders, game modes, etc. Only minus is that the Franchise mode isn't as great as NHL 2004)

I'd give it a 9.5 and I would've given NHL2k3 an 8.2 or something.

nazzy
09-25-2003, 06:45 PM
My parents got divorced in 94' , so I am living in Richmond, B.C now for the past 9 years. We lived on Columbia Street in Kitimat...dad still works at Alcan in Kitimat. I will come there next year, to celebrate my 10 year leave ;)

Cool, my cousins moved there a couple of years ago from Terrace, not much of a move though, they're on Oriel I believe. It's pretty much a dump except for Alcan, but I think Prince Rupert is struggling the most, it's pretty sad to visit with so many local shops closing down.

Impossibles
09-25-2003, 09:24 PM
My parents got divorced in 94' , so I am living in Richmond, B.C now for the past 9 years. We lived on Columbia Street in Kitimat...dad still works at Alcan in Kitimat. I will come there next year, to celebrate my 10 year leave ;)

:D Add me to the Kitimat-alumni club.

Lived on Gannet street, moved when i was 6 ('86)
Still have a lot of family up there.

KOMO_ROCKS
09-26-2003, 04:45 PM
:D Add me to the Kitimat-alumni club.

Lived on Gannet street, moved when i was 6 ('86)
Still have a lot of family up there.

Cool, good to see a Kitimat reunion on HF :joker:

Mole ii
09-26-2003, 06:37 PM
asdf

Blane Youngblood
09-27-2003, 06:18 AM
Anybody bought it yet?

If so, let us know what platform you bought it for and what you think about it.

I've had ESPN Hockey (NHL 2k4) for 2 weeks and NHL 2004 for a week. Personally I think the Franchise Mode is amazing in NHL 2004, the only bad thing about it is that it's not 2 player. ESPN has a pretty good franchise mode as well except the player ratings are often way off. I'd say I'd give management to NHL 2004 and actual on ice play to ESPN. The game is just more fun IMO. Scoring in both games isn't really a problem, even on the hardest difficulty settings (actually the same kind of deak works in both games if you can get open). I'd say get them both if you can because they each have their strong poins.

p.s. I hate the new controls in NHL 2004

p.p.s. There is a stupid amount of injuries in ESPN Hockey, its a must to turn them off.

FacelessButcher
09-27-2003, 07:06 AM
NHL 2004 is complete crap. those who actually like it need to give ESPN Hockey a try which is so much better it's not even funny.

i would normally go through and list the problems with a game but 2004 just has too many to list.
Agreed, Espn hockey is the best hockey game of all time only ones close are last years 2k3,Nhl 93-94, Mutant League Hockey. One thing I would like to voice is Nhl 2004 has no fluidity in movement what so ever they look great in the animations but their is no transition from one animation to the next(It looks like stop-and-go animation from the 60's) this nagging problem ever since they went 3-d has never been fixed they spend millions on getting the most realistic animations but they are so disjointed and hokey it makes me feel like vomiting. I will admit Nhl 2004 is three times better than 2003 but that game was the biggest piece of crap ever I had to seriously contimplate if I should return it to EB(wonderful return policy) or break it into a million pieces just to save another poor soul from having the pain of playing it. Nhl 2004 also is much weaker in skating movement it is unsmooth and unrealistic and harder to cut in between defenders(not cause they are smart and block u just the actual task of doing so). AI in 2004 is well below 2k4 all around but I would say it is most telling in defense as 2k4 always trys to react appropriately to what u are doing and has good defensive coverage. For those who complain about graphics, 2k4 looks beautiful but if u rather watch something a little prettier in 2004 but sacrifice all the gameplay and richness of a good hockey game go ahead, but its your loss.

Ironchef Chris Wok*
09-27-2003, 08:16 AM
Relative to other hockey games that graphics are good, but they don't have that "wow" factor. And after playing Soul Calibur II the graphics look 8-bit ;) I'm just saying that the potential is there to do much better.



I suppose the play-by-play isn't so bad (although hughson's voice is better imo) but I find the commentary ridiculously repetitive and brutally inaccurate (for example, in their pre-game analysis of the canucks they called them a "strong defensive-oriented team"). And yes, I will take Don Taylor's inane comments any day of the week over Clement telling me that "This Player" is "Good Defensively" or "Good Offensively" at every single stoppage in play...especially when I'm well aware that it's not even an accurate description of the player in question and that player had nothing to do with the preceding play.

BRING BACK DON TAYLOR!! BRING BACK DON TAYLOR!!!

Mizral
09-27-2003, 08:32 AM
I've played both games. I own ESPN Hockey and it has a few issues, but most are minor. The game I'd give it a 9 out of 10, one or two small things take away from it getting a perfect score.

NHL 2004 I played for about 5 hours. It's a good game, but it's just not quite as good to me. The graphics are about equal, and NHL 2004 I find has a superior menu system & dynasty mode seems better. However, that's about it. Options are far better in ESPN Hockey, as is gameplay (my primary importance for buying a game).

Both games are good, but NHL 2004's gameplay is just flawed, flawed flawed. Arcadish to me. ESPN Hockey has much more realistic play.

Bobby Lou
09-27-2003, 01:00 PM
I've owned both games for about a week and ESPN is starting to collect dust.

EA 2004 simply blew me away. The new controls are so vastly immersive that defense becomes a question of skill instead of repeatedly hitting the 'triangle' button and big hitting around the ice. The graphics are good, nothing insane (though the replays look super realistic in my eyes)...the teeth on the players piss me off though...they look ridiculous when they open their mouths.

The redux of the right analogue deke move allows me to pull off some ridiculously pretty plays, and the sharpness of the movements feel more like skating and less like running...the sharp turns are awesome.

EA fighting simply owns ESPN fighting in my opinion as well, me and my buddies have one heck of a time tilting in 2004, but ended up turning fighting off in 2k4.

The combo L1 moves are kickass as well, the dive and shotblock are extremely useful and the L2 pin, hook and tie up features are awesome.

2k4 is an upgrade over 2k3 obviously...but nothing close to the upgrade that 2004 is over 2003....EA really turned it up this year.

I enjoy 2k4 gameplay as well, but the Dynasty mode in EA really led to the death of 2k4 in my console collection.

There is a move that scores with a bit too high a consistency though, cutting in off the wing and shooting far side seems to yield goals too easily. My housemates are getting pissed at me because I seem to be scoring at will, but it's a nice goal in my eyes.

Overall, they are both good games. EA is simply better this year in my opinion, though 2k4 is definitely worth some playing time too.

Dynasty mode makes 2004 the better buy though.

LaVal
09-27-2003, 04:33 PM
OK. I've decided to write up some of the fatal flaws NHL 2004 contains. I'll update it as more come to mind, but there are so many it's hard to keep track so i'll write them down as i come up with them playing the game. Keep in mind this is for the PC version.

- AI. This is the problem that i found plaguing NHL 2K3, however it's much worse in 2004. Your computer helpers don't know how to play hockey. They constantly set up picks against you, and just follow the puck. They can't play positionally and the defense doesn't know how and when to pinch.

Your goaltender is absolutely pathetic as he'll make crease spawling saves on pucks barely trickeling in. My goaltender has been scored on by a lose puck i knocked away from an opponant.

Your teammates cannot defend against cross ice passes in front of the goal. If it happens, it's a sure goal.

- The only real simulation part of the game they managed to capture is the trap. The computer clutches and grabs constantly... and no matter how good the player is at puck posession, the simplist of grabs and poke checks, the the slightest little bumps of hits will almost always knock your player off the puck.

- Controls. There is so many things wrong with the controls i'll be hard to capture them all. First off, they are very hard to learn. If you become a die-hard fan it could be an asset because they are very in depth, but until then they are too spread out and poorly structured to enjoy the game.

I'm positive this game would be impossible to play without dual analogue controllers. I have one, and they are so vitally important i doubt you could go without them.

I for one, am glad you can't go skating around just using the big hit button, but you can't seem to hit anything in this game, even if it's a well placed and well timed hit along the boards, yet the computer has no problem running around just using the big hit button. In fact any old open ice position near a computer opponant and they can outright flatten you or pin you effortlessly, however you and your computer helpers seem to be lacking this feature.

The movement is not pressure sensitive. You can't skate slow or correctly position yourself in certain areas (e.g. in front of the net to clear). Any slight tab of the analogues result in your player going at full out speed. Since the player cannot turn on a dime anymore, it makes setting up for a goal impossible.

It's far too easy just to have one player skate circles around the oppositions defense, and scoring is far too simple. I get outshot 40-20 and still win 6-5 (playing only 5 minutes a period) playing on Medium. as mentioned a cross crease pass in front of the goaltender seems to completely stump them. Add that to the fact that the defense doesn't seem to know how to defend against such.

- Trivials. Just a spot for trivial gripes that don't really mean anything. Even at the lowest levels there's far too many fight opportunities a game. It wouldn't be so bad since you can ignore it, however the score and clock dissapear when it happens, meaning you can't see how much time is left when you are either protecting a lead or need to tie it up.

That's what i've gotten so far playing about 10-15 minutes of it. The game is so far from realism and reminds me of playing those 2 on 2 arcade games at Scandia.

zamboni
09-27-2003, 09:35 PM
Besides the jerky gameplay, the thing I hate most about the game is how you pass it up to your teammate, and the player would start to skate away from the puck. That had me going :rant: a couple of times...

Besides those 2 things, it's a good game and a HUGE, HUUUGE improvement from 2003. I still think ENH is better, though.

I was disappointed today when I found out EB, who was supposed to have NHL Hitz Pro on the 25th, had it held back until late October. Oh well, it should be at Futureshop by Monday. I've heard a lot of good reviews about this game and how you can change between a realistic sim style and an arcade style. It sounds like one of the major surprise games of the year...