UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 Xbox 360 Review
FIFA 07 offered an outstanding game of football, and the two nines that we awarded the two very different versions were certainly well deserved. It was with little doubt that the latest Champions League game would be a repeat performance with few differences to speak of. Read on to find out why this game is still well worth a look.
As the game is basically a slightly refined version of FIFA 07 then please allow us to refer you to our earlier review. We’re not going to be echoing our love for the game all over again, as our 07 review already tells the world why we think FIFA has become such a force to be reckoned with. Instead, we’ll talk you through the additional content, as well as the unspectacular changes that are present to the game itself.
On the pitch, the latest Champions League game has been slightly slowed down and proves to be a little more fluid than FIFA 07. Another notable refinement is the through ball system, which now has the ball travelling beyond the defence and into the path of your front men at different speeds, dependant on the amount of time that you hold the button down. These small changes do improve the matches, but it’s still pretty difficult to tell the difference between the two.
At least Clive Tyldesley is back on the commentary mic, taking over from Martin Tyler‘s less accurate and less convincing play-by-play, and with Clive back in the fold, commentary is typically brilliant. We’re also glad that they turned the base of the crowd up this time around, which means more noise and atmosphere bouncing around the pitch, instead of the rather bored lot that seemed to frequent FIFA 07’s stadium seats.
Obviously the game gives you the chance to taste Champions League glory with any one of the available European clubs, given that it’s a game based on the competition. A challenge mode (similar to EA’s 2006 FIFA World Cup game) meanwhile draws 42 real life historic moments from the competition’s storied past and tasks you with the completion of major objectives (score two goals to qualify etc) as well as optional minor objectives (qualify before extra time etc) that earn you more points towards unlocking the next set of challenges. The excellent Lounge mode also makes a welcome return (along with the usual on and offline multiplayer options), and is as fun and daft as it was in EA‘s previous footy games.
It’s the Ultimate Team mode that is clearly the games main attraction though, particularly if you’ve already experienced the many delights that FIFA 07 had to offer. In this mode you are given the opportunity to take the reins of a club, christen them with the name of your choice, and then play some football in a bid to get hold of the golden ticket, which gains you access into the Champions League. It doesn‘t stop there, though, as Ultimate Team is a unique and compulsive card-based mode that has its many talking points.
You’ll begin Ultimate Team with a random deck of mostly average players from a starter pack of bronze level cards. Playing in the majority of the games modes earn you credits, as does filling up the virtual collector’s album. These credits can then be used to purchase additional packs or individual cards if you are connected to Xbox Live. Prestige points meanwhile contribute to elevating your level and getting you nearer to that all important golden ticket. Upon reaching the required levels, you’ll unlock the right to buy the more expensive silver and gold card packs, which obviously gives you the opportunity of strengthening your team with higher rated player cards randomly found inside these superior packs.
Team chemistry is something that is obviously worth some consideration when organising your first 11. You’ll be swapping your players around to get the chemistry number to rise into something that at least suggests a team of sorts. It’s tempting to just use the highest rated stars and group them together of course, but sometimes this isn’t as effective and the team just don’t gel as they should.
Interestingly everything in Ultimate Team mode is dictated by cards, including training, fitness, player and staff contracts, injuries, and even your home stadium as well as the home and away kit that your players don when out on the pitch. Matches can even be dictated by gameplay cards, which either serve you in giving your players various stat boosts, such as a fitness or shooting boost for half of the match, or bring into play detrimental actions that cause your opponents passing and shooting to falter, and so on. It’s always worth keeping in mind that once these cards are used they take their leave from your collection, until they are found randomly once again in purchased packs or if you are on the lookout for particular cards, you could always cut a few corners and check out the online trading area.
In the trading area you can put up to ten of your unwanted cards up for sale and even set your own asking price. In spite of EA’s good intentions, this actually works against the mode in more ways than one. You can purchase gold level cards at anytime for example, and oddly this can be done way before you have access to purchasing a full pack of gold cards. This upsets the balance somewhat, and what’s even worse is that we’ve seen many people place premium talent on the server for ridiculously cheap prices, which can make team building all too easy and too early on. Of course, it could be argued that you don’t necessarily need to make a trip into the online trading area, although if your 360 is hooked up to broadband, the temptation to do so is always going to be there.
Regardless of its problems, Ultimate Team is still a stupidly addictive mode and definitely the most valid reason to purchase UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 if you already own the very similar FIFA 07. If you are looking for a totally different game of football though, then you should probably look elsewhere, as this is basically a repackaging of the brilliant FIFA 07, albeit with a lesser number of clubs and a few quiet tweaks here and there.