UEFA Euro 2008 Review for Xbox 360 (X360)

UEFA Euro 2008 Review for Xbox 360 (X360)

European Glory

Has it already been four years? It seems like it was just last Summer when the Greeks shocked the Portuguese (in Portugal) and became the footballing champions of Europe. I for one will be glued to my set for the majority of the high profile fixtures, but I suppose the majority of Yanks will let this glorious tournament go by the wayside. So too shall it be with EA CANADA’S wonderful soccer title, UEFA EURO 2008. This special edition, mid-year treatment of the world’s game, only mildly improves upon FIFA 08, but it provides several unique modes of play that make it the perfect companion to this cycle’s European Cup.

UEFA Euro 2008 screenshot

If you’ve played the last couple of FIFA entries, then you already know exactly what to expect from EURO 2008. Gameplay is almost identical, and only the flavor of the title is different. Instead of having to cover nearly every league, team, national selection, and player, the developers were able to streamline the experience and concentrate on the subtle nuances of the European game. I’m sure most fans prefer the all-encompassing FIFA titles, but Europeans, expatriates, and diehard soccer aficionados throughout the world will gush over the attention to detail and unique flair.

Before I popped the title into the console, I couldn’t believe this game was actually released in the U.S. It seemed like such a waste. “Are Americans really going to buy a ‘tweener’ title about European football? Heck, England’s not even competing this year (traditionally Americans’ favorite European side).” But after having a go with all of the interesting modes and truly getting a feel for the game, I think word of mouth will be strong enough to make it a success.

UEFA Euro 2008 screenshot

There are four unique modes of play and one interesting feature binding it all together that set EURO 2008 apart from its brothers. Of course, there is UEFA EURO 2008 mode, which lets you play just the finals, the entire tournament including qualification, or even all of the friendly matches leading up to qualification. If you want Be A Pro (controlling the action via just one player), you can do so in the Captain Your Country mode. This is a stellar choice, as it allows you (and up to three other friends) to create a player and advance him from a lowly B-International to your team’s captain and star player. I can’t say enough about this mode. I really enjoyed garnering points on my own and then dumping them into sweet skills like dribbling, tackling, strength, and mental state. Moreover, if you play with your friends, you will be teammates but at the same time competitors. That’s because each of you will be vying for the captaincy! It makes for some good times.

If you don’t have much time, then Story of Qualifying is your best bet. This mode has players relive all of the angst-filled moments that have lead up to the championship. That means you’ll be able to hop into recreations of scenarios where the given team has their back against the wall. The amount of time you have to comeback from a deficit or to stave off the onslaught varies according to what happened in real life. Additionally, this mode is accompanied by a few paragraphs that set the stage and succinctly describe what actually went down.

If you prefer to battle it out online, then EURO Online Knockout Cup will do nicely. Heading online to play in the 16-team Knockout Cup will allow you to select a country and try to get them to the final. If you need to quit for whatever reason, you can hop out at anytime. That’s because the game will save your progress in the Cup and then let you join with a new set of players that are at your same stage. Pretty cool!

UEFA Euro 2008 screenshot

Finally, binding the entire experience together is what’s known as Battle of the Nations. This is less of a mode of play and more of a companion feature. It adds a significant sense of accomplishment by having players select their favorite team, binding that team’s country to your profile, and contributing all the points you accrue while playing the various modes into one giant pool. Every day these points are tallied, and the players and nations in the top positions are awarded with points that will be used toward crowning the ultimate champions. This overall competition will be decided on June 30, 2008.

UEFA Euro 2008 screenshot

As I stated previously, gameplay is almost identical to a FIFA you may already own. Don’t expect much innovation there. However, details such as European winter weather, home and home series tactics, manager antics, and the inclusion of the eight official stadiums are nice additions. Because qualifying spans several months and even seasons, you’ll frequently be faced with blowing rain, sopping turf, skipping balls, and a torn up pitch. This is one of those subtle, EURO-centric flavors that make this game special. They don’t stop there, however.

Bad teams, i.e. Lichtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, etc. will almost always play for a tie. As such, it is not uncommon to see these teams pack their own defensive third with ten players behind the ball and leave a lone target man to break on the counter. This makes it very difficult to score on the higher difficulties. If you’re playing through a campaign, I suggest playing much longer halves against the little sisters, or you’re liable to leave the match with a poor result.

Finally, to spice things up just a little bit more, the managers and stadiums are authentically rendered. The expressions and mannerisms of the coaches are uncanny! I especially liked the bulldog-like scowl of Spain’s manager, Luis Aragones. The way he paced up and down the touchline while waving his hands in disgust at a terrible call was quite engaging.

As you can imagine, the graphics were very good. The player likenesses are fantastic and the overall presentation is wonderful. The music selection definitely has a grating, European quality to it, and the commentary is par for the EA SPORTS course.

When all is said and done, UEFA EURO 2008 is an excellent soccer title that is definitely worth the $50 price tag for true fans of the sport. If you are looking for a more general soccer title, I would suggest picking up a used copy of FIFA 08 or waiting for 09 to make an appearance. However, if money is not an object, go ahead and pick up EURO 2008 and follow the tournament in style!

Visually, the game is as good as it has ever been! 4.3 Control
If you’re new to the series there is a sharp learning curve. Veterans will enjoy the fact that the controls are identical to FIFA 08. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The commentary is solid, but not at all new. The typically great music selection is somewhat less spectacular this time around. 4.3 Play Value
Every bit as fun as FIFA, but the unique modes provide for an excellent EURO flair. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Win UEFA EURO 2008: Compete as one of 52 teams from qualification right through to a virtual reproduction of UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.
  • Captain Your Country: Play as yourself on the same team with up to three friends, all playing individual positions on the pitch. Compete collaboratively to win games, but compete against each other for the captaincy. Develop your player through eight status levels to earn the captaincy of your country and the right to lead your team.
  • Battle of the Nations: Represent your country online against your rivals around the world to win global supremacy. Earn individual and team points. Think your nation is the best? Now you can prove it! EURO Online Knockout Draw: Battle gamers from other nations online in 16-team, single elimination tournaments to gain points for your nation.
  • EA SPORTS Soccer Engine: An evolution of the market leading EA SPORTS soccer engine with enhanced goalkeeper A.I., collisions, and trapping that make this the best-playing EA SPORTS soccer game.
  • Story of Qualifying: Play the qualifying campaign and step up at key defining moments to lead your country to Europe’s biggest prize. Complete team and individual tasks.

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