Great visuals and controls make Euro 08 a winner, unlike England.
Euro 2008 is underway, and that means another blatant rip off advertisement of a videogame, right? Licensed games just have that tendency to be crap, not even worthy of the slightest look. ,Actually, EA Canada's latest project, the official videogame of the Euro 2008 tournament sports some crisp visuals, tight controls, and lots of content to justify its price.
The best thing about this impressive soccer game, are its surprisingly outstanding graphics. Everything looks incredible. The great player models move fluently with a large list of fluid animations, that sell the believability of the athletic, acrobatic things that these players can do. The player scans are about as impressive as any sports game on the market. The players and coaches look very similar to their real life counterparts, even their height and weight are accurate. With over 50 teams, that's a huge accomplishment. What you don't see enough in sports games, are great looking sidelines, and that's actually something that you'd find perfectly in this game. Coaches react to what's happening on the field, they walk around, throw their arms up in despair, cheer, all with nice facial animations to match. Players on the sideline are no cardboard cutouts. They don't look quite as nice as the players who actually count, but they are there, and don't all move in routine. Players' jerseys fold realistically, too. Stadiums sport much detail in the crowd, and the field. Grass actually isn't just a green layout, it's all very dynamic, and it seems like it actually exists. There are some slight framerate drops and pop in during pre rendered celebrations and ceremonies, but overall, this is one of the finest looking games so far this year.
Sound quality is also great. Crowd AI actually makes sense, with some booming chants that can get in your head at times. Sound effects work well, also. The soundtrack is limited, but just about every song is very well, with some Euro pop, and some alternative rock. These songs aren't hits, but they seem like they could. The typical EA soundtrack.
The actual soccer gameplay is very enhanced over FIFA 08. There's a new meter that effects passing and shooting, depending on how long you hold down the button for. This has been somewhat a part of FIFA in the past, but it's so much easier and forgiving to use this time, that it puts the ball at your feet when you need it. Controls are responsive, yet the learning curve is steep. There are 5 difficulties, I found the 2nd one the most balanced. It provides a challenge, but isn't impossible. Opponent AI is very tactical. They know where defenders are at all times, they know which dekes to perform, and they can find the openings in the net. It makes the immersion factor very high, and it seems like you're actually playing professionals. Ball physics are also the best they've been. There's no clipping, gravity is in full effect, it all works really well. Player animations are so fluid, it's a wonder how the mo cap work was actually done for it. UEFA Euro 2008 is a very engrossing and rewarding soccer game that's technical, yet easy to pick up.
There's lots of ways to play the game. Of course, there's kick off, which is just a simple game, but you can set the scenario for it, whether a friendly, or the finals for the cup. UEFA Euro World Cup is where you'll get the most play. Pick any of the 52 teams, take them through the tournament. You can pick up at the beginning, during qualifying, or at the actual tournament. The tournament is presented just like it is broad casted. All the graphics are the same (images with info), and overall the Euro license is used well without being abused. Online play is great and lag free mainly. There's a battle of the nations thing, which gives you points for whatever you do with your country, which you pick when you first boot up the game. These points go to a worldwide leaderboard. Right now, Romania is winning. Ugh. There's a Be a Pro mode, which is similar to Madden's superstar mode. You can pick a player, or create one from scratch, and lead your team to victory. For 50 bucks, there's plenty of content here to last you a long time, even after the tourney is over, and Germany has won. =)
It's hard to think of a soccer game that has everything Euro 2008 does well. Outstanding visuals, good use of the Euro license, smooth controls, lots of game modes, and good sound quality are all pluses. The only real minus I can think of is the fact that it's UEFA, not FIFA. This is a look at where EA's soccer franchise is going, and the future looks bright.