Also available on: PS3
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
With UEFA Euro 2012, Electronic Arts has opted for digital distribution rather than a traditional boxed retail release, launching the official game of the European championships as a FIFA expansion for the first time ever. The good news of course is that football fans don't need to shell out big bucks to get the authentic tournament video game experience, provided you kept hold of that copy of FIFA 12, of course.
Unfortunately, despite costing less than a full retail release, UEFA Euro 2012 still feels a little overpriced, lacking the killer features of a standalone game, and failing to match fellow tourney titles such as 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa in terms of in-game atmosphere and presentation.
For those who have never played FIFA 12, it's undoubtedly one of the finest football games of all time. Obviously, as a FIFA 12 expansion, UEFA Euro 2012 shares the same game engine. There are no tweaks, upgrades or alterations, so fans will be able to jump straight in.
Starting with your Virtual Pro from FIFA 12 or your favourite player from the selection of participating countries, players attempt to make their way across Europe, besting teams in order to unlock new games, players and mosaic pieces - of which there are 180. Together with an average team of unknowns, your journey typically begins against one of Europe's minnows.
Beating a team once grants access to one of their reserves, twice unlocks a sub and three times gives you dibs on one of their starting 11. In the early stages, almost every additional player improves your squad, so you'll find yourself tweaking the formation to accommodate new signings, leading to forced tactical experimentation - a good thing for players who are slightly set in their ways.
Defeating teams also unlocks new paths around Europe, leading to games against higher quality opposition and ultimately granting access to a better standard of player. Likewise, losing games erodes paths, resulting in rematches with teams previously bested. Early stages typically involve avoiding the bigger teams until squads have enough strength and depth to be competitive, adding a welcome dose of strategy to the FIFA experience. Conquering all 53 nations takes a great deal of time and effort, but it's a satisfying journey to the top.
Unfortunately, outside of Expedition, UEFA Euro 2012 offers little else. Challenge mode has potential, and will apparently come into its own during the tournament, with users able to alter the course of history as the championships progress. As it stands, there is very little to get stuck into. Instead of a collection of challenges, single scenarios are live for a set period of time.
While we look forward to revisiting the tournament's monumental moments, the developer could have included 10-15 challenges from the qualifying rounds to get us started, instead of drip-feeding content.
The expansion is also guilty of a few major omissions, leaving out tournament qualifying rounds and failing to secure licenses for every team, including co-hosts Ukraine. Last year's Rugby World Cup 2011 shared a similar problem and really suffered as a result.
It's also a crying shame that you can't select your own squads from the list of players in FIFA 12, although in fairness, teams are constantly updated, so it's usually a pretty accurate representation - unless you're Welsh.
Unlike 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, which really embraced the atmosphere of the World Cup, UEFA Euro 2012 doesn't look and feel particularly unique, save for a lick of paint in the menu screens. The soundtrack is the same and there isn't much in the way of extras, which could have explored the history and heritage of this major European tournament.
In summary, Expedition mode is a wonderful addition to the FIFA 12 roster, adding a strategic element absent from previous releases. It's a long and challenging journey with a satisfying outcome for those who persevere.
Unfortunately, outside of Expedition, the rest of the package fails to score. Challenge mode has potential, especially when the tournament kicks off, but the lack of qualifying rounds, fully licensed teams and extras leaves this FIFA 12 expansion falling short in front of goal.
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