It's the first-ever downloadable tournament add-on in the FIFA's franchise's history, yet is UEFA Euro 2012 a bargain or a missed opportunity?
With FIFA 12 and FIFA Street still riding high in the retail charts, EA Sports spared themselves a lot of gamer outrage in recently announcing that their expected Euro 2012 tie-in would be a solely downloadable, budget affair.
After all, there’s only so many times you can push gamers towards full-price special editions and with downloadable content becoming an ever viable alternative business model, the days in which a Champions League-themed release or a World Cup-only game could sit on store shelves are long past us.
That being said, UEFA Euro 2012 may surprise gamers – reared on expectations of 2010’s World Cup release – with its relative paucity of content. This is a €19.99 title, not full-price, so you should temper your expectations accordingly.
The game itself exists as a FIFA 12 menu option (it cannot be played without the disc on consoles), which when pressed, leads gamers to the tournament's gaudy purple and flower-themed presentation, not to mention those seemingly Jedward-inspired mascots.
As expected, the download means that gamers suddenly have access to up-to-date team kits, Euro 2012 timed scenario modes (promised to update during the tournament), all UEFA teams, a few extra lines from Clive Tyldesley and a tournament mode.
That’s to be expected of course, so what’s been left on the cutting room floor? Rather disappointingly, there’s no option to relive the qualifiers (as EA Sports claim that no-one bothered to try this mode previously), no gameplay additions, no enjoyably pointless renders of team managers and perhaps most shockingly of all, a severe lack of official licenses.
Yep, despite the fact that the FIFA series comfortably won the football simulation wars over Pro Evolution Soccer largely due to its superior licensing, only around half of the included full UEFA roster have official kits and player likenesses. Sorry Wales fans, but you’ll have to settle for “Gavin Belth” bombing down the left wing this time around.
Where the UEFA Euro 2012 package begins to match expectations, however, is in the ingenious Expedition Mode, which is so bonkers that it just about works.
It’s basically a football version of the Risk board game – as ridiculous as that admittedly sounds. Here players are given a randomly assembled multinational squad and tasked with expanding their influence across Europe by defeating nations and setting up branching paths to their rivals.
Defeat a team once, you get a reserve player. Defeat them twice, one of their substitutes will wear your shirt. Win a third time and you have your pick of a star player from their starting XI. It’s strangely compulsive and though 99 per cent of players will never reach the 160+ quota of games to complete the mode, it’s fun while your patience lasts.
In truth, there's not much more that can be said UEFA Euro 2012 as it basically a re-skinned, modestly upgraded add-on for your FIFA 12 experience. Though the price tag for such an offering has been dropped, it’s still not necessarily a bargain – even at €20, though it could prove a tempting purchase once the tournament hype fully kicks in next month.
Format: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: EA Canada; Publisher: EA