Like Madden NFL 2004, NHL 2004 has a deep career mode, titled Dynasty Mode. You take on the role of GM for up to twenty seasons. As GM, you'll have to negotiate contracts, conduct drafts, make trades, sign free agents, make sure your players are getting the training they need, and more. If you're good enough, you may make it into the GM Hall of Fame.
Besides Dynasty mode, you've got the basic game modes; Season, Exhibition, and Playoffs.
The control for NHL 2004 has been refined, allowing for more precise movement than in the previous games. Precise passes, shots, and accurate skating are accomplished by simply tapping the button.
NHL 2004 features a new fighting engine, allowing for more accurate and realistic fights. The right analog stick controls "Bruise Control", which lets you perform different moves by tilting the stick in different directions. Before you get into fights, you'll need to agitate a player, and this is where his Agitation Meter comes in. Losing the game, being checked, making sloppy passes all raises his Agitation Meter, until he is ready to burst and will fight at the slightest poke check.
NHL 2004 contains the EA Sports Bio, which is a feature found on all console versions of EA Sports game. Playing more EA Sports titles, playing them for a long time, and winning special accomplishments (such as your first shutout in NHL 2004 or your first number one finish in NASCAR Thunder 2004) will earn you a higher Gamer Level, and will reward you with bonuses, such as cheat codes and new stadiums. This feature isn't found on the PC version.
In addition to the standard roster of NHL teams, there are thirty nine international teams for you to choose from, such as Germany's DEL or Sweden's Elitserien, plus the usual U.S.A., Canada, and other regulars.
The PlayStation version of NHL 2004 supports online play.