The last version of the bunch to be released, GameCube's NHL 2004 is the second in the series for Nintendo's platform, delivering high-end visuals, smooth gameplay and an intuitive control method, courtesy of the Cube's ultra-ergonomic controller.
At face value, NHL 2004 boasts the usual set of player and team updates and statistics, but once players become involved with the virtual sport, they'll uncover a whole new set of features. First and perhaps foremost for a game of this kind, EA has incorporated a new fight system, boasting new fight animations and improved decking and hitting. Second to gameplay, the fight engine is a vital aspect to this latest NHL game and it's one that delivers.
In terms of playing an actual game of ice hockey, NHL 2004 is very similar to any football game you may have played. It's a simple case of get the puck, pass it, then shoot for the goal. The control method is remarkably simple, provided you are using a third party controller and not a mouse and keyboard, and makes the game easy to learn.There's also a Dynasty Mode in which players can assume the role of GM. Here you'll be responsible for detailed aspects of management and given time and experience, you'll be able to upgrade facilities, hire new staff and sign new players. Effectively, it's a management sim as well as a sports title.