NHL Rivals 2004 (Original Xbox) by Microsoft

NHL Rivals 2004 (Xbox) by Microsoft Box Art

North Amercian Release Date: November 18, 2003.

Region(s) Released: North America, Europe

High Definition Resolutions Supported: 480p
Widescreen Supported (16:9): No
System Link Support: Yes

Average Overall Score:
6.46 / 10

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced NHL Rivals 2004, the company's very first attempt at the sport of professional ice hockey. Rivals 2004 is a simulation-style hockey game that clearly draws influence from gameplay elements found in both EA and Sega's NHL games. Unfortunately, NHL Rivals 2004 doesn't do much to set itself apart from the competition, and, additionally, it has some rather problematic flaws that deteriorate its gameplay to the level of subpar, at best."

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This dramatic hockey simulation immerses gamers into one of the most realistic and exciting hockey experiences ever created. With more than 700 in-game, motion-captured animations, hockey fans will be able to take one-timers, blast slap shots, and dish out the big body checks, just like real NHL superstars.

NHL Rivals 2004 will provide hockey fans with a variety of game modes including online play, single games and playoffs. Using Xbox Live, gamers will be able to settle grudge matches, create rivalries, track stats and download team rosters and player ratings.


Friday, October 3, 2003
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Thursday, April 10, 2003

Cheat Codes

      Zero Ice Friction
Enter the password: AIRHOCKEY
      Unlocks the XSN Sports West All-Stars
Enter the password: XSNSPORTSWEST
      Unlocks the XSN Sports East All-Stars
Enter the password: XSNSPORTSEAST
      Unlocks Microsoft Team
Enter the password: BLIBBET
      Unlocks Invisible Players
Enter the password: INVISIBLEMAN
      Unlocks Increase Gravity Mode
Enter the password: HEAVYPUCK
      Unlocks Big Shot Mode
Enter the password: HOWITZER
      Unlimited Speed Burst
Enter the password: CAFFEINE
      No-Bounce Dasherboards
Enter the password: DEADBOARDS
      Heavy Shot Trails
Enter the password: THESTREAK
      Small Players
Enter the password: TINYTYKES
      All Snipers
Enter the password: SHOOTOUT
      All Enforcers
Enter the password: BRUISERS
      All Agitators
Enter the password: PESTFEST
      NHL Rivals West All-Stars
Enter the password: CUJOWEST
      NHL Rivals East All-Stars
Enter the password: CUJOEAST
      Big Puck
Enter the password: BIGBISCUIT
      Big Players
Enter the password: BIGDUDES
      All Balanced Players
Enter the password: EVENSTEVEN

User Reviews

Score: 65
Overall User Average: 6.58 / 10 (64.6%)
Gameplay User Average: 6.50 / 10
Graphics User Average: 7.08 / 10
Sound User Average: 6.67 / 10
Date reviewed: October 4, 2004.

Overall: This has to be the worst hockey game i have ever played since Wayne Gretzky Hockey 98 for the N64. The gameplay is horrendus, the visuals are anything but polished and the sound makes me want to throw the game out the window.
Gameplay: The gameplay was anything but fun, almost impossible to score or hit. Your players would shy away from the puck and plays. scoring was impossible because u couldnt do one-timers. all round gameplay was brutal compared to the EA Sports and even the ESPN game which i didnt enjoy that much.
Graphics: lacking, u want to see visuals, buy NHL 2004. I mean the playes looked like boxes to me. they skated like they were robots leaving no realism to the game whatsoever. horrible game.
Sound: anything but spectacualar, with the Xbox you should at least be able to add your custom tracks onto the game, but then again none of the EA sports games nor the ESPN games have done it yet but still, nhl rivals blew the big one.
Suggestions: Get better at making hockey games.

Overall: 30 %
Gameplay: 20 %
Graphics: 20 %
Sound: 20 %

Date reviewed: June 14, 2004.

Overall: This game isn't that fun offline the season isn't great and there isn't much to do. But being a ONline player I really like this game. There are 3 different modes in this game Pickup (pond hockey) and non-ranked games and ranked. This is the first online game that allows you to play more then 1v1 this game can be very fun if you like hockey and you learn how to play the game
Gameplay: The gameplay is pretty good. You can pick your stratigy and this will be a very big factor in your game. If you play overload your going to have your team going after the puck overloading on offense, if you have the lead you can change your stratigy and play to win, not just break out on offense and attack but keep your defenders back.
Graphics: The graphics aren't amazing but there not to bad for a hockey game. The checks in this game look very good and the saves look well to, this is a great looking hockey game
Sound: The sounds in some of the arenas are very good like the coyatoes have the coyatoe noise going everytime they score its pretty funny some of the sounds are great but i think they need alittle more

Overall: 100 %
Gameplay: 100 %
Graphics: 80 %
Sound: 60 %

Date reviewed: March 10, 2004.

Overall: i thought that this game would be more up to the standard that i have come to expect from MS games, but sadly it wasn't... i thought that it would convert me into a hockey player, like top spin did for me with tennis, but again... sadly it didn't... i might posibaly have enjoyed this game if i was a hockey fan.... but i am not, and i didn't enjoy it at all.
Gameplay: i found the controls easy enough to get used to, but i found it nearly imposibal to score... i think a tutaurial mode would have been useful. i didn't try multiplayer mode, or xbox live (because i dont have it) but i wasn't bothered, it is reppetative, limited and shallow.
Graphics: graphics in the game are good, and the crowd are very detailled and realistic, but the ice, players, and arenas dont really look as convincing as they do in other MS games.
Sound: unless i missed it,(which is a possibility) i dont think you can copy your own tracks onto the game... which is a bit of a let down... and so you are stuck with annoying reppetative songs in the menus, and while playing... but the commentry sound good enough... and it sounds smooth enough... and doesn't sound like every pre-recorded word is being played at a random tone... but the average sound doesn't help this game from being a dissapointment.
Suggestions: well, if another MS nhl game comes out i doubt i will try it... but if MS decide to release 2005... simply improve...... EVRYTHING.

Overall: 40 %
Gameplay: 40 %
Graphics: 70 %
Sound: 60 %

Date reviewed: February 29, 2004.

Overall: Well we are at turning point of the nhl season..... Nhl Rivals is definitely the best hockey game on the market.... the online play is fun... So is xsn sports the online leagues for xbox live... this game is a must if you own xbox live and you a true hockey fan ....
Gameplay: the gameplay is fun... there is a season mode.... instant rivalry..... and also... xbox live is the man form of gameplay i use in the game... the pond hockey is unbelivable... you can play one on one or two on two and last three on three...(i warn you it gets quite addicting)... the only problem with the teams is the red wings are too good on the game... it is almost impossible to score a goal on him... he truely is the dominator in the game...but that is really the only flaw in my mind
Graphics: the visuals in the game are good... the ponds in pond hockey look really great... the arenas look very realistic...
Sound: theres nothing like playing hockey and you here eye of the tiger in the backround.... each arena has a differnt type of goal horn like the phoenix coyotes have a coyote howl everytime the coyotes score... also you can use custom soundtracks in the game...
Suggestions: not one thing keep it up fellas your doin a great job it least one microsoft sports game is gonna be a do good if ea crosses over into the xbox live market.....

Overall: 80 %
Gameplay: 80 %
Graphics: 70 %
Sound: 100 %

Date reviewed: February 7, 2004.

Overall: Worthless. As a few others have stated, your teammates skate away from the puck, or curl away from the play/pass. Graphics are at best average. The music is flat-out lame. Scoring is almost impossible due to the fact that one-timers are virtually impossible, since your teammates are never in position.
Gameplay: Again, bad player AI. Shooting is to difficult to move and aim while attempting either a one-timer. Checking is almost non-existant. Poke checking is TOTALLY non-existant. The "speed" or "power-boost" that certain players have don't equate to the actual player (aside from the fact that the CPU controlled players are much faster than your players.) Coming in on a break away is darn difficult since control of your player seems to slip as you try moves... god I could go on forever.
Graphics: Average. Nothing special. I can't see how M$ can "make" their own XSN Hockey game on their OWN system and hav eit come out with AVERAGE GRAPHICS... I don't get it.
Sound: Piss poor. I put it on mute and listen to something else. God to be playing ESPN NHL Hockey 2K4 and be listening the the best duo in hockey, Thorn and Clement... Oh, wait; I can: **pushing eject to swap in NHL 2K4**
Suggestions: Jeeze, do developers really read this this stuff??? Take a clue from your rivals. EA and SEGA have you beaten you like a rented mule! Get a clue.

Overall: 30 %
Gameplay: 40 %
Graphics: 50 %
Sound: 20 %

Date reviewed: January 27, 2004.

Overall: This is a pretty good game, especially for Microsoft's first hockey game. Definitely as good as its competitors. The best part of the game is playing it on XBOX Live. It is the only hockey game out that is compatible with the new XSN Sports site.
Gameplay: The gameplay is as good as any I've seen. There are some interesting new features that NHL Rivals 2004 has introduced. One is using the right thumbstick to pass rather than the A button. This allows you to pass in any direction, regardless of what direction you are skating. Another is that each player can be one of four types of player: sniper, agitator, enforcer, and balanced. Each player type is especially strong in some areas, and weak in others. The fighting, although very hard, is very good in this game. There are a few bad parts about the gameplay. The two-line pass rule gets pretty annoying. A lot of the goals are scored on rebounds or even by poke-checking the puck off the goalie's stick and into the goal.
Graphics: The visual part of NHL Rivals is one of the game's weaker points. The players are shaped pretty weird. The way the players skate is also strange. One very good visual part of the game is the fans. They are the best I have seen in a sports game.
Sound: I don't really pay too much to sound in the games I play but it sounds pretty accurate. I play hockey in real life and it sounds good enough to me. I also like the commentators.
Suggestions: Keep making and improving this game.

Overall: 80 %
Gameplay: 90 %
Graphics: 70 %
Sound: 80 %

Date reviewed: January 18, 2004.

Overall: I was very excited to rent this game. New XBox love hockey games couldn't wait to play. Sadly this game was a horrible let down. The gameplay was totally unrealistic. It was virtually impossible to check the other team, and the stupid opposing goaltender always froze the puck which made for very tedious gameplay.
Gameplay: Very disappointed in the gameplay. The controlls are so complex you almost need 10 fingers per hand to use them to their full potential. The players on your team that were controlled by the computer were useless, they'd just stand around or skate away from the puck. You can setup coaching options which are pointless because the rest of the team doesn't follow them. Another annoying feature of this game is the oppossing goaltender. Everytime he would get the puck he'd freeze it, that is if he didn't let off a huge rebound first. I was also disappointed with the way checking was done in this game. When you were able to check an opponant (which isn't very often) it seems like a wimpy check, even though the announcers make a big deal about it.
Graphics: Visually this game looks alright. Realistic rink and movments. The players look good and their movements are convincing. But the overall low quality of this game reduces my vote on this.
Sound: The sound is not be in this game. Could use a larger library of in game music and perhaps more of a database of comments from the announcers. Beyond that not bad, always room for improvement.
Suggestions: Read the reviews from the fans, check out the competion and maybe try to play your own games from time to time so you can see how bad they really are.
Hope to see much improvement in 2005.

Overall: 20 %
Gameplay: 20 %
Graphics: 40 %
Sound: 30 %

Date reviewed: December 15, 2003.

Overall: i enjoyed this game, i'm not sure what all the bad reviews about r. I dont have a large background on hockey games, but i liked this one more than espn
Gameplay: gameplay is fun. It can sometimes be difficult to get the puck from the opponent when bodychecks dont work as well as they should, but thats not too much of a downfall. I like the way that 6 xbox can be in a game at once aswell, makes for a large game with lotsa people
Graphics: graphics were good. Most animation are good with a few here and there that look a little unlike what they should.
Sound: sound was a strong point. The announcers were well done with how they talk smoothly and keep up with whats goin in the game. The soundtrack is also pretty good. Although could've been a bit bigger.

Overall: 90 %
Gameplay: 90 %
Graphics: 90 %
Sound: 90 %

Date reviewed: December 15, 2003.

Overall: NHL Rivals is bringing up the rear in the hockey videogame derby. There's not one thing it does better than any of its competitors. It's strongest features like the pivot mode and shot physics are basic elements of NHL 2004 and ESPN NHL Hockey. The Sega game has a stronger online component because its core gameplay is stronger. EA's hockey title took a stand and went all out for realism even if not every fan could grab hold of it. If Rivals' greatest innovation is right analog passing then you know we're not talking about a revolutionary title. Chalk up another MS sports game that's just content to be on store shelves. There's a "2004" hanging off the end of NHL Rivals which means there may be more to come. Good thing there's plenty of room for improvement.
Gameplay: Silly face-off controls and the lack of player skill required really hurt. They need to work on this otherwise it will never be good.
Graphics: Shaky animation and adequate character models really hold this one back. First party games should look better than this.
Sound: Weak announcing is countered by good crowd reactions and on-ice sound effects. Just need new announcers and it would be good.
Suggestions: Horrible really.... compared to the others. Work on it and make the gameplay much beetter and it will be good.

Overall: 60 %
Gameplay: 60 %
Graphics: 70 %
Sound: 70 %

Date reviewed: December 9, 2003.

Overall: This game isn't very realistic, as it is more of an arcade style of play, and I personally feel the gameplay is awfull. On the plus side the visuals were good, soundtrack is decent, and there are lots of multiplayer modes.
However I'll stick with Espn 2004.
Gameplay: The lack of customizable options is a great downfall for rivals. You can't edit your controls :( I also don't like the bodychecking, as there is like a homing device on the player you're trying to hit, and when you hit them usually they don't give up the puck. The puck physics are kinda off as well, as numerous time I'd take a shot from right beside the net and the puck would bouce off the post straight up into the air. Multiplayer has lots of unique modes which is good.
Graphics: The graphics are very polished, and look good. Most animations are good except sometimes they look kinda goofy.
Sound: I hate the whistle sound they picked it's really annoying. Other than that all the sounds are good and in place, nothing to complain about. Announcers don't suck either.
Suggestions: make basic functions such as controls customizable.

Overall: 70 %
Gameplay: 50 %
Graphics: 100 %
Sound: 100 %

Date reviewed: December 4, 2003.

Overall: Overall this is THE best game if you own a Xbox. The graphics are top noch, online games are the best I could have ever dreamed and the gameplay has a ton of neat features.
Gameplay: Tons of different controls such as a drop pass, pivot, dump, and also a new passing system where you aim the pass which helps a ton for cycling.
Graphics: Here is where the game shines. The ice textures is simply amazing. Reflections are the best to date and the players look good themselves.
Sound: This is one part that needs help. The commentary is average, the whistle is way off, but the crowd-custom soundtracks-and on ice sounds make up for this. The horn could also use some customizing.
Suggestions: Fix the whistle, goalies coming out of the net and going down in the butterfly, line changes, but leave that amazing pond hockey online play ALONE!

Overall: 100 %
Gameplay: 100 %
Graphics: 90 %
Sound: 80 %

N Y R 2 0 0 5
Date reviewed: November 25, 2003.

Overall: After seeing all the other microsoft sports games i figured this can't be too bad. Feaver is a great game interms of graphics, but not really in play realism, however this game is by far one of the best hockey games i have ever seen.
Gameplay: The gameplay is very smooth, and very realistic. When an oppsoing team shoots, and the goalie saves it, the entire crowd cheers, as well as when their are hits and stuff. The comentary is very good, and i have not had them say something that did not happen in the game. The controls or a bit difficult to get used to at first, but once you figure out all the stuff you can do it is enjoyable and alot of fun.
Graphics: The Graphics are simpliy outstanding in this game. Reflections on the ice, as well as each arena having its real look, all add to it. Microsoft games are best for the graphics, and this wont let you down.
Sound: The sound is really cool. The crowd cheering at the right time, the puck hitting sticks, boards, posts is really realistic. The players skates, and bodies as they hit boards all add to the realism.
Suggestions: Keep it commin!

Overall: 90 %
Gameplay: 90 %
Graphics: 100 %
Sound: 90 %

NHL Rivals 2004 News

Microsoft Cuts XSN Sports
Microsoft has shut down its internal sports game studio XSN Sports, developers of NFL Fever, NHL Rivals, and Inside Drive. A positive turn on bad news would be the Links and Amped titles won’t be affected.

XSN Sports Revolution Hits its Stride
XSN Sports completes it’s fall sports portfolio with NHL Rivals!

NHL Rivals 2004 Hits Shelves
Microsoft Game Studios announced that “NHL Rivals™ 2004”, their first-ever hockey title made exclusively for Xboxâ as part of Microsoft’s XSN Sports brand, is now available at retail stores across North America.

NHL Rivals 2004 Goes Gold
Microsoft Game Studios today announced that NHL Rivals 2004, the first hockey title made exclusively for the XSN Sports brand, has gone gold. Rivals is expected to be on shelves November 18.

Xbox to hit the ice with NHL Rivals 2004
With intense NHL Playoff battles opening throughout the league, Microsoft Game Studios announced today its first hockey title for the Xbox video game system, "NHL RivalsTM 2004." The game is scheduled to "go top shelf" in stores this fall.

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