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 3 and Xbox 360, it runs on the same FIFA 08 game engine, but with some pretty notable tweaks made to the gameplay, which I'll get to later.
The rundown is simple, the game greets you with a voiced intro which states that once you select a team to trek the campaign with, there's no turning back, so choose wisely. You'll have the ability to choose one of the game's 52 European national teams, so the variety is high enough. After choosing your team, you'll be brought to the game's main-menu where an interface unlike past EA Sports games welcomes you. Here you can choose from Kick-Off, UEFA Euro 2008, Captain Your Country, Story of Qualifying, Euro Online Knockout Cup, Battle of the Nations, and Play Online.
Kick-Off features the standard quick-match play called Team; pick a team, an opponent, do some pre-game checks, and begin playing. Be-A-Pro is the other Kick-Off feature, and in this game mode, instead of controlling the entire team, you'll control a single player on it. Finally, the Penalty Shootout mode is a good inclusion for practicing penalty kicks, and familiarizing yourself with the enhancements made over FIFA.
But it's the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament and Captain Your Country mode that might take up most of your time. The Euro 2008 mode is rather self-explanatory; here is where you'll begin your UEFA campaign in hopes of winning the Euro 2008. 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 Story of Qualifying mode is a scenario-based gameplay mode where you're allowed to recreate, or even alter, the events of a number of Euro 2008 qualifying matches years ago. Some moments will be casually easy, others may be hard and against odds. By pressing Square, you can check what actually happened during a specific scenario, as a report appears and details it all. Accurately progressing through the horde of scenarios will require sharp skills, and so FIFA veterans should be able to adapt more easier to these situations as opposed to newer players.
The Euro Online Knockout Cup allows you to join a 16-player online tournament, so that should excite a lot of you online tournament gamers out there. Additionally, the worse the team you play with, the more points you score. In case you're wondering, Battle of the Nations isn't a gameplay mode so much as it's more of a tracker that directly relates to the game and your performance with the team you've selected. The intro of Euro 2008 does a good job of explaining how the mode works, so we'll leave it at that.
Multiplayer supports seven gamers offline for the PlayStation 3 (four players for the X360), and four players online. As explained already, offline multiplayer isn't limited to just team matches, but also the Captain Your Team mode. So far, the online experience has been enjoyable, with some bearable lag issues that you'll have to get used to.
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. Regardless of those issues, Euro 2008 actually plays better than FIFA 08 thanks to smoother, more responsive controls, and much better pace - where as FIFA 08 felt a little slow, Euro 2008 feels just right.
Visually, because Euro 2008 runs on the same engine, don't expect many differences over FIFA 08. While the framerate during gameplay is a silky smooth 60, the replays and cut-scenes are choppy and run well below 30. Player models look largely the same between both games, and they continue to perform up to 1000 options and reactions per second, or 60,000 real-time calculations per-minute. The stadiums are riddled with spectators, complete with movement in the background. The grass still looks nice, but in Euro 2008, real-time deformation and mud occurs when it rains. And if you think that the mud is purely aesthetic, it isn't - it'll actually have an affect on how your players pass and run.
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 Euro 2008's loud crowd.
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 now run at a more brisk and realistic pace and the controls feel a touch more responsive. 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. The Captain Your Country mode is, arguably, worth the price on its own. Check this one out.
5/31/2008 Arnold Katayev