|Microsoft shores up its sports lineup with the release of NHL Rivals 2004 on Xbox. In addition to a Single Game, Tournament Mode, Playoff Mode, and Season Mode, NHL Rivals features online play via Xbox Live. Online members can track both individual and team stats, view leaderboards and win-loss records, and compete in a variety of events, including team, cooperative, ranked, and non-ranked contests. Players can also ensure their game is in sync with the latest roster changes, All-Star game voting, and team ratings with downloadable content available on a quarterly basis.
One of the key elements of NHL Rivals 2004 is the ability to play each game at a specific position and attempt to carry out specific roles, such as a sniper, enforcer, or agitator, each with a variety of special moves, to help their team win. The title of the game alludes to classic matchups in league history, such as the Montreal Canadiens versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, which are playable in a game variant called Rivalry Mode. Also available are round-robin tournaments supporting eight, ten, 12, or 16 teams.