Play by play, in game music, poor player-to-player transitioning.
At first I absolutely hated this game. The controls felt foreign and stupid, and very unlike the 2002 controls. But as I got used to it most of my complaints went away.
I absolutely love the dynasty mode, which allows you to become the GM for your favourite, or created team in any of the leagues in the game. You sign, draft, and trade players to build a team that can go all the way, and then you can choose to either play the season yourself or simply sim through and see how well the computer thinks you did.
The game play isn't bad either. Personally, I couldn't stand how easily the puck came off of my stick from the slightest touch from the other player, so I turned up the puck control in the options menu, and I became significantly less frustrated.
Unfortunately it seems to be a little too easy to score and to be scored on, especially when the goalies are rated in the high nineties. But other than that it's not horrible.
I do have some pet peeves though.
1. When you are changing players to either check an opponent, or pick up a loose puck, the game isn't smart enough to pick the player who will get there first. Rather it obstinately selects the closest player regardless of the direction that he is going. This wouldn't be so horrible, except that it feels like every player on the ice is using completely dull skates. You can't just stop and change directions. By the time you get your player going in the right direction, the puck isn't even there anymore.
2. The play by play is pathetic. They have an even smaller assortment of comments than 2001 had, and the ones that they have are stupid.
3. There are only about 10 songs on the soundtrack, and no apparent way to import your own cd's. A dynasty of 20 years becomes a musical marathon.
4. There is still no way to protect the puck with your player's body when you are skating past a defenseman.
5. The advanced controls are kinda cool. You get to dive in front of pucks and block shots and stuff, but if the player isn't shooting, and you dive in front of him, unless you can hit the puck with the blade of your stick, it has no effect. He stick handles right through your body, doesn't trip or anything, and usually scores just to spite you.
6. The game engine doesn't seem to take momentum into effect at all. You can be skating all out at a player with the puck and throw a bone crushing hit that completely fails to make any impact at all, and other times you can be standing perfectly still and throw a guy right through the glass. There's no consistency.
Overall this game isn't bad, and if you can pick it up on ebay for under 30 bucks I would say buy it. But don't spend $50 on it, you'll feel a little ripped off.