It’s difficult to start a football gaming review without mentioning the battle between EA’s FIFA series and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer titles. While the latter gained notoriety over the last decade as the "better" game, it sadly failed to claim the top spot in terms of sales. But all that changed last year as FIFA 08 thoroughly thrashed the terrible Pro Evolution Soccer 2008.
UEFA Euro 2008 then isn’t the next step in the FIFA franchise. Instead it takes the solid base that all us football fans purchased last year, and offers quite a number of gameplay tweaks, and a few delightful additions to make this the best football gaming title available at the current time.
If you glance back to our review of FIFA 08, you’ll notice that we adored the "Be A Pro". This glorious opportunity to take charge of just one single player’s movements during a 90 minute spell was absolutely spellbinding, but with only single games able to be played, it felt like a missed opportunity for long-term lovers of the mode.
UEFA Euro 2008 takes this mode that step further forward, and offers up far much more for our gaming buck. This time entitled "Captain Your Country" you can now start off as a lowly international B squad player, and slowly but surely make your way up into the full team squad, and eventually captain your chosen national side.
For single player gamers, this is a superb introduction, and one that’s surely to devour a large chunk of your future gaming time. You’ll need to utilise every ounce of skill and talent in order to claim a starting spot in the full starting 11, and ultimately achieve the opportunity to captain the side. It’s a wonderful step forward.
Equally as appealing are the series of "what-if" scenarios during the Story of Qualifying mode. This hands over a wide selection of tests and challenges to match the kind of spectacular one-off results that populated the Euro 2008 qualification campaign. Some of these challenges provide a real stern test, with each opposing team playing in the kind of manner you’d expect.
So if you just need to scrape a victory from a lowly national team, they’ll happily chuck all 11 players behind the ball, invite on the pressure, and tempt you to try and break them down. It’s really quite incredibly difficult at times, but well worth playing through solely to test your skills in some incredibly tricky scenarios.
Other than those, you’ve got all the standard gameplay modes, including the chance to play through the full Euro 2008 finals themselves. All the online multiplayer options of FFIA 08 remain, and it offers a stunning multiplayer experience, particularly online.
Aesthetically things aren’t too much of a leap from FIFA 08. Though that's certainly not a major down point as its still the best visual representation of kicking a bit of leather around a field witnessed to date. Alright so players do still at times look like they’ve been coated in a few layers of Vaseline, but that doesn’t detract from what is an unnervingly accurate visual spectacle.
No, it’s no great leap forward. And at a full retail price, some of you who spent a lot of cash on FFIA 08 just a few months ago might baulk at shelling out all over again for what isn’t a true sequel.
But if you want to play the best football title currently available, you simply need to get out there and pick this one up. A fantastic game in every respect.