EA’s latest footie venture sees them head back to the impervious realms of realistic authenticity; sprinting as far away from the radically-paced ping-pong experience that was FIFA Street as possible. Bucking the trend somewhat, this year the EURO 2012 game has been offered to fans in the form of an expansion pack for FIFA 12, but unlike the ludicrous map-packs that haunt console marketplaces UEFA EURO 2012 is a complete package that glistens with plenty of retail presence.
As one would expect, the game uses the same core engine mechanics as FIFA 12 but a significantly lowered in-game camera angle and subtly tweaked gameplay features (such as heavy touches and mob-tackling) help make EURO 2012 feel a lot more polished and refined in more ways than just receiving a traditional lick of visual paint. Teams get a nice modernisation with a great deal of attention paid to statistical accuracy, facial animation and EURO 2012 kit updates – however due to a poor showing of only 29 out of 53 international teams actually being officially licensed, certain countries such as Wales will have their talents laughably substituted as the hilarious “sort of made up”: Aaron Rumsey, Gareth Belth and Craig Belmont.
After loading the game and watching the wonderfully upbeat introduction, featuring an iconic floral theme and music that sounds like it belongs in last year’s Eurovision song contest, you’ll notice that the nicely animated in-game menus offer gamers a chance to compete in a great deal more than just the UEFA EURO 2012 tournament. “Challenge” mode, as akin to FIFA 12’s “Challenge” mode, pits you in situations adapted from real life EURO games, whether it be helping Spain overturn a 1-0 deficit against the Czech Republic or by winning the grand final of the tournament whilst playing as the team that actually lost in real life. “Expedition” mode seems to be the one that fans expected least, and that’s probably because it fits awkwardly into the overall bundle that EURO 2012 offers its players. Here, you select one famous player from an existing team (or import your Virtual Pro) and battle it out across Europe with a team of generic nobodies. As you win games you unlock better players for your squad (ultimately assembling a European dream team) and roads to other countries around the globe, however when you lose games you ultimately break those links – leaving you to retry games as you make errors. This mode, whilst not in the exact spirit of the occasion, is definitely interesting to play through as an offline experience and the addition of collecting “mosaics” for winning games definitely adds a lot more spice to the competition. Finally, the tournament itself (along with the online counterpart) is back in full swing and offers fans what I imagine they’d pretty much expect: the full 8 stadiums, group stages, in-game updates and the subsequent dramatic series of knockout stages.
That’s not to say the game is perfect, however, as some glaringly obvious features that have been missed out really detract from the final value of the package. Whilst an excellently produced update of the commentary by usual gang Alan Smith and Martin Tyler is appreciated, the game would have really benefited from a small new soundtrack. Seeing as official Coca Cola EURO 2012 themes have been confirmed, it doesn’t make sense that a track is used during the introduction and is then never played again. A few more songs here and there wouldn’t go amiss, but that’s not the biggest issue. The biggest and most unforgivable issue is that there’s no online mode that supports gamers who wish to play their friends. Local multiplayer is here but when I came to wanting to challenge my friend, who also has the expansion, we searched the game for 20 minutes trying to find a way of playing each other. In the end we settled for playing as England vs. Spain on the regular FIFA 12, but it just didn’t feel the same…
Overall, UEFO EURO 2012 is a brilliant package that successfully refines some key areas of FIFA 12 and adds extra layers of squad depth for those teams associated with the EURO’s. Whilst a new soundtrack (or official songs) wouldn’t have gone amiss, the bulk of the content is really very good here – however the lack of friendly online support is unforgivable given that the game it’s expanding on already possesses it. Hopefully a patch will be released soon fixing this issue, but until that day it’s a 7.5… Back of the net?