UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 PlayStation 2 & PSP
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Just in time for the latter stages of this year's UEFA Champions League we have the game that's based on this year's competition. Over the last ten years or so the UEFA Champions League has become the premiere club cup competition attracting interest from the four corners of the globe. The top clubs in each of the main European countries now regard the competition as more important than their own championships and build squads for the purpose of winning the huge silver trophy. Naturally with such global interest in the competition it stands to reason that there is going to be a lot of interest in games based on the competition. This review looks at the PSP and PlayStation 2 versions of UEFA Champions League 2006-2007.
In terms of features the PSP and PlayStation 2 versions of UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 are practically identical. The modes on offer in the PlayStation 2 version are Play Now (which is essentially an exhibition match), UEFA Champions League, The Treble, Practice Mode, UEFA Champions League Challenge, The Lounge and Online. The PSP version doesn't have The Lounge or Practice Mode but it does have Juggling, Wall Attack (which are both passable mini-games) and Quiz Modes that are more suited to a handheld. The PSP version also supports both ad hoc and infrastructure online play. UEFA Champions League allows you to pick a team and guide them through the various stages from the groups all the way to the final. You don't have to stick rigidly to the teams who made the group stages in real life so if you want to control Juventus, for instance, and attempt to guide them to the trophy that the match fixing scandal prevented them attaining this year (and next year of course) in real life, you can. UEFA Champions League Challenge has a plethora of scenarios for you to undertake. These scenarios cover qualifying, group, quarter finals, semi finals and finals from recent years. These scenarios drop you into a situation and challenge you with achieving the required outcome. There is one scenario called Sick as a Parrot which puts you in charge of Tottenham as you're 1-0 down in the last match of the season. With your players feeling the effects of food poisoning (having reduced energy as a result), you have to try and defeat West Ham in order to qualify for UEFA Champions League.
The PSP and PlayStation 2 versions of UEFA Champions League don't have the enjoyable Ultimate Team mode that can be found in the Xbox 360 version but they do have a mode called The Treble. Here you have to win not only your teams League Championship but also their major domestic cup competition as well as the UEFA Champions League. It's not just a straight forward task though. You'll have a variety of conditions you must meet. You'll be ordered to play a certain player in a match or carry out specific transfer activities such as selling a certain player or bringing in a player with a specific rating for a specific amount of money. Sometimes you'll begin a match whilst it's in progress with your team losing. There are other conditions too, and they all make The Treble nowhere near as straightforward as you might think it would be.
In regards to how it plays UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 is very similar to FIFA 07. The AI doesn't seem as good in the PlayStation 2 and PSP versions, particularly when it comes to defending, when compared to the Xbox 360 version and you tend to get more of an open game with a lot more scoring opportunities. The keepers don't seem as good in these versions too, meaning you'll tend to see higher scoring games in these versions. It's possible to transfer your progress back and forth between the two versions so if you want a football game you can play whilst you're on your travels and continue on the big screen once you return home then UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 is certainly worth considering.
Graphically both versions are practically identical to last year's FIFA 07. The PSP version runs a lower frame rate but it is, for the most part, very smooth. The PlayStation 2 version on the other hand runs at a much quicker pace but at times the frame rate is a little uneven and it's possible for the action to get a little choppy in places, which is disappointing. Load times on the PlayStation 2 version are also a little on the long side, which again is disappointing. The PSP version on the other hand actually has pretty impressive load times and they actually felt quite short compared with the majority of games that I've played on the console.
Neither version of the game will cause deaf gamers any problems. As per usual the match commentary isn't subtitled but otherwise it's absolutely fine. All instructions for each game mode are given in text meaning you'll always know what to do. Icons are used to display the amount of injury time that's to be played at the end of a half. Strangely though, the icon that's displayed on the Xbox 360 version to show when the advantage rule is being played is not displayed in either the PS2 or PSP version. On the whole though, either version is fine for deaf gamers.
Those who enjoyed FIFA 07 and are looking to grab a slice of the UEFA Champions League atmosphere will be pleased with how UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 has turned out. For some it may be a little too similar and when you compare the two products it has to be said that FIFA 07 certainly has more appeal given the fact it's not based around a single competition. It's a shame the Ultimate Team mode from the Xbox 360 version hasn't made it to the PS2 and PSP versions and it's what makes the Xbox 360 version the preferred version in our opinion. The Treble is a nice inclusion though and the UEFA Champions League Challenge mode offers enough scenarios to keep most gamers busy for a few months at least and by that time we'll be looking forward to FIFA 08.
The PlayStation 2 and PSP versions of UEFA Champions League 2006 - 2007 don't have the rather impressive Ultimate Team mode that the Xbox 360 version has but on the whole both are enjoyable games that should keep football fans happy until this year's FIFA games arrive.