Game fails to meet expectations

Despite boasting a list of realistic and expansive game-play options, Electronic Arts National Hockey League 2004 falls short of the expectations of non-hardcore hockey fans.

Today, video games serve as an unbeatable marketing tool for a company or athletic organization trying to promote itself. What better way to create new fans than by allowing them to have hands-on experience with your sport?

Realizing this it is easy to see how this sports simulator does not quite make it.

NHL 2004 does feature an impressive inventory of game-play choices. Fluid controller-to-screen command allows for what EA Sports calls “Total Player Control.”

This allows you to completely control every line change, every board check and every “slapshot” in the game.

There is only one problem with this. People who are not an avid hockey fan are wondering, “What is a slapshot?”

EA Sports also trumpets a deep “Dynasty Mode” and “international leagues” for this title. Veterans of other titles such as Madden or NBA Live understand the quality of EA Sports simulation modes. However, even they could be lost in the sink-or-swim method of this game.

NHL 2004 also boasts an improved look and feel that allows gamers to play in realistic arena settings with animated players that really resemble NHL stars.

The only problem is a lot of video game fans have never been to a hockey game and only recognize hockey stars from close ups on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Honestly, the only redeeming quality of this game -for anyone who is not a hockeyfan-is the EA Sports Bio feature. As in other EA Sports games, this feature keeps a record of all significant accomplishments and rewards its owner with unlocked items on other EA titles.

At the end of the day the formula of high control simulation and brand name equipment and players is enough to keep this title from receiving a failing grade.

However, the inability of this game to educate novice fans and retain their attention will also prevent the title from receiving high marks.

Garrison L. Vereen II can be reached at