UEFA Euro 2008 Xbox 360 Review
Euro 2008 may not be happening for some unfortunate teams, although some would say that England weren’t unfortunate, instead they were just depressingly bad during the crucial qualifying stages. After he was sacked, you may have thought that you had seen the last of Steve McClaren’s face at an England match, but be warned and be prepared for his presence in EA’s officially licensed game.
Moving away from the shockingly bad England team and their now ex red faced manager for a moment (I’ll probably return to both subjects later on, so please forgive me if you’re a fellow Englishman and I bring back any painful memories for you) and on to the all important Euro 2008 game.
To have a big football event without a big football game from EA would be rather shocking. Indeed, the giant gaming empire never stays dormant when such competitions are upon us, and as each new EA football game is better than the last EA football game, I’m not going to be one to complain about their overactive football game making machine.
Perhaps only small steps have been made with EURO 2008: the game is now faster, more responsive and attractive, but EA’s engine was already a terrific one that just keeps on getting better and better, even if the new interactive celebrations are an utterly pointless and throwaway inclusion.
As long as EA keeps coming up with inventive modes and adding little tweaks here and there, I’ll certainly stay quiet. They’ve definitely turned a once consistently good series (lets face it all these spin-offs are basically FIFA with a different name) of football games into a superb series of football games.
Sure, EA may be counting their cash right now, but EURO 2008 is no thoughtless cash-in. It’s a much more successful game than England is as a team and Steve McClaren was as their manager.
It’s with little surprise that the Euro 2008 tournament is present and correct, with friendly and qualifying matches as well as the finals for you to aim your sights (or should that be boots?) towards. More surprising is Captain your Country mode, where the objective isn’t only to win the competition, but also to fight amongst three team mates to earn the captaincy (and the respect that comes with it) of your chosen country.
Utilising the Be a Pro mode that was introduced in FIFA 08 you’ll have to truly impress to be given the armband of leadership. Captain your Country can be played with up to three other players (offline only if you are wondering), all playing as overpaid professionals or their own created players. To impress the gaffer you’ll have to play to the strengths of your position: using match saving tackles if you are playing as a defender, getting into nice positions to score some nice goals as a striker, and doing everything a midfielder does if you opt for that position. Intercepting passes, passing the ball around and robbing the opposition of the ball does much to put a smile on the face of any manager, whichever position you decide to go with. All in all, Captain your country is a fantastic mode that shows why England are rubbish, all the players on the pitch must all be trying to compete for the captains armband rather than attempting to play as a team and win any matches. We all need excuses after all.
Online play doesn’t flick the ball past any innovation either, with the rather grand mode that is Battle of the Nations and a knockout cup included. Battle of the Nations has you choosing a team to stick with up until June 30th, where the country with the most points will be crowned champions. How do you earn these points you might be wondering? Playing on any mode whilst connected to EA’s servers (off or online) you’ll be rewarded these points at the end of matches, and even if you have chosen, say, England, it doesn’t mean you are restricted to playing solely as that team until the end of June. Whatever team you play as you’ll be contributing to your chosen country, and in a genius bit of thinking if you beat and embarrass a tougher team using part timers like Armenia or Andorra, you’ll get bonus points for your cheekiness.
The Euro Knockout Cup involves 16 players, and in a nice touch you can win a match and then switch the game off and you’ll be still at the same stage when you return to it, with the servers matching you up against another player that has reached your current stage. Like reality these finals can be truly heartbreaking, losing on penalty shootouts (happened to me two or three times) and reaching the final and then being hammered by a far superior opponent, which means all your players will go home empty handed, indeed those losers medals are nothing to be proud of, most likely ending up as deep down in the bin as they can possibly go.
The atmosphere and visual flair of the competition has been captured. The commentary from Clive Tyllesdey and Andy Townsend is interesting in how they talk about the history of the competition as well as specific players on the pitch, typically, it’s very good too along with those roaring crowds.
UEFA EURO 2008 is the best football game around at this current time, although it’s only a marginal improvement over FIFA 08, so do think twice before putting your cash or card down if you already own that game. If you feel that there’s no bigger fan of EA’s football games than yourself, can put up with small tweaks here and there and always welcome new modes (Captain your Country is almost worth the price alone), then consider it a purchase.