NHL 2004 Updated Impressions

EA Sports gives us an in-depth look at NHL 2004's much-improved dynasty mode.


NHL 2004

At today's Camp EA press event, EA Sports was showing off NHL 2004 and its all-new dynasty mode. This year's dynasty mode will be immensely deeper than anything the series has attempted before, letting you take the role of both coach and general manager, as well as upgrade your team, your facilities, and even your office.

The biggest new feature available in NHL 2004's dynasty mode is the create-a-GM mode, which will let you assemble and manage a team for as long as 20 years. At the beginning, you will be able to name your manager and give him a face using a list of in-game photographs of anonymous gentlemen in suits. Once you've completed this task, you are in control of everything related to your team. Your goal, as GM, will obviously be to try to make your team the most successful in the league, both on the ice and financially. As you progress, you'll be able to earn experience points by yielding higher profits, bringing in higher attendance numbers, and completing beneficial trades.

You can use these experience points to purchase upgrades for your facilities, your staff, and your personal office. Facilities upgrades include new training equipment, means of travel, gymnasiums, practice rinks, and locker rooms. Staff upgrades consist of new medical trainers, coaches, marketing and legal teams, and scouts. These upgrades will be beneficial to your team in a number of ways--for example, upgrading your scouting team will let you learn much more information about potential draft picks, whereas without a decent scouting staff, you won't have much information about the current draft pool. Office upgrades are largely cosmetic in nature but include a multitude of items, including better desks, décor, and even random items such as a stuffed bear for the corner of your office.

Another task you'll be required to take care of as the GM is scheduling practices for your players. On nongame days, you'll have the option of scheduling a long, medium, or short practice or a day off. Practices are important, since going too long without practicing will cause your team to become weak and undisciplined. However, if you go too long without allowing a day off, your players' morale will decline significantly, leading to multiple problems down the road. Morale can also be affected by how much ice time you're giving to a player. If a star player doesn't get his deserved ice time, he will become frustrated and far less likely to re-sign at contract time. Additionally, star players will also affect attendance and TV contracts. The more you have, the better, but if you have too many, you simply won't be able to dish out enough ice time for everyone.

Additional features in NHL 2004's dynasty mode include a news ticker that provides all available news and information currently going on in the league, as well as a newspaper function that lets you know how good or bad things are going for your GM. The newspaper features the look and feel of Power Play Magazine, adding an air of authenticity to the whole thing. Created teams and players will also be usable in the dynasty mode.

NHL 2004 will hit stores in mid-September for the PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox.

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