UEFA Euro 2008 Review
You may be thinking to yourself, 'why is EA releasing another soccer game? Don't we already have FIFA?' Well, yes, we do. But, you see, with the Euro 2008 approaching its start, it's only right for a videogame to fill the void of those who wish to virtually recreate their own Euro 2008. And because FIFA is...well, FIFA, it can't quite perform those duties, now can it? So here is UEFA Euro 2008 for the PlayStation 2, it runs on the same FIFA 08 game engine, so it'll feel similar to many. But the inclusion of the Kick Stick sets Euro 2008 apart.
The rundown is simple; the game greets you with an optional tutorial of the Kick Stick controls. The Kick Stick allows you to use the right analog stick of the Dual Shock to perform all of the game's various penalty kicks, and it even allows you to manipulate the curve of the ball's travel. The feature is surprisingly intuitive, much more so than many other similar mechanics found in other sports games, like baseball and hockey. After watching the tutorial, you'll be brought to the game's main-menu where an interface unlike past EA Sports games welcomes you. Here you can choose Play Now, UEFA Euro 2008, European Campaign, Captain Your Country, Penalty Shootout, The Lounge, and Practice. The last four game modes are tucked away under the "Game Modes" selection, for whatever reason.
Of course, Play Now is the standard quick-match where you pick a team, an opponent, do some pre-game checks, and begin playing. The Penalty Shootout mode is a good inclusion for practicing penalty kicks, and familiarizing yourself with the enhancements made over FIFA. The Lounge is where you'll enter when up to seven of your friends gather at your house and want to play a few matches.
But it's the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament, European Campaign, and Captain Your Country modes that might take up most of your time here. The Euro 2008 mode is rather self-explanatory, here is where you'll begin your UEFA campaign in hopes of winning the Euro 2008 - you can choose to start from the qualifying events, or enter straight into the playoffs. Captain Your Country mode is a completely different gameplay mode where you take a low-level B-international athlete, draft him into a team, and strive to make him the captain of it. You can either create your own athlete, or use a real one here. In this mode, your athlete will compete against three other teammates who are either controlled by other users, or by the CPU. Play your best throughout the tournaments in order to outdo the competition, progress through eight status levels, and gain the right to captain your team. Completion of the Captain mode will allow the athlete to be used in a standard team match.
The European Campaign mode is a scenario-based challenge where you choose a team, and enter a series of scenarios that your team is facing against an opponent. Your goal is to complete those scenarios and come out triumphant. These challenges will range in difficulty and will often leave the odds against you, so it'll be up to your skills to turn the momentum around and dominate all of Europe's soccer franchises. Furthermore, challenges also boast a Be A Pro version, so as opposed to controlling the entire team's performance, you'll handle just one player for the scenario.
To address a few complaints, the game's lack of customizable sliders leaves gameplay solely dependant on what difficulty level you choose. Also, the A.I. can make some stupid mistakes, such as self-goal, stay motionless as a ball rolls by, not hustle to a nearby ball, among other irritating problems. You'll still often lose the ball because you've accidentally pre-loaded a pass as the ball was turned over to you, all because you were tapping X to steal a second ago. Unlike the PlayStation 3 version of Euro 2008, the PS2 version doesn't feel all that much different than FIFA 08. But the inclusion of the Kick Stick and the three core modes really help set the game apart.
Visually, because Euro 2008 runs on the same engine, don't expect many differences over FIFA 08, either. The framerate during gameplay is a smooth 30, as it is during the replays and cut-scenes. Player models look largely the same between both games; with the camera zoomed-out they all look largely identical. But up-close, the players exhibit some pretty good details for a PlayStation 2 game. Additionally, the animations are well done, and problems such as clipping don't tarnish the game, either. The stadiums are moderately populated with spectators, but they're barring animation in the background.
Euro 2008 continues to offer the same play-by-play commentary that FIFA 08 had. And that's not a good thing. Color commentary is infrequent, and so what you'll primarily hear is the chanting crowd, the ball being kicked around, and a few play-by-play calls from Clive Tyldesley. Andy Townsend lends his voice to Euro 2008, as well, but his contributions are nothing deep or meaningful in terms of commentary. You'll be disappointed by the generic commentary, but you'll likely enjoy listening to the soundtrack during the menu screens.
All in all, Euro 2008 is yet another superb soccer game from EA Sports. It picks up where FIFA 08 left off, and adds improvements to the overall experience. Players can now use the right-analog stick to perform corner kicks and penalty kicks, and the three core modes offer a good dose of value to a package that's worth only $30. While issues with A.I., a lack of movable sliders, and poor commentary hinders the game, Euro 2008 remains a solid sports title that fans of the FIFA franchise will absolutely love. Check this one out.
6/1/2008 Arnold Katayev