UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 Xbox 360
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 Xbox 360 version of UEFA Champions League 2006-2007.
The single-player game modes on offer are Play Now (which is essentially an exhibition match), UEFA Champions League, Ultimate Team and UEFA Champions League Challenge. For offline multiplayer The Lounge mode has returned (for up to 20 players) and of course you can play on Xbox Live. 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.
Oddly enough the UEFA Champions League mode isn't the highlight of the Xbox 360 version of UEFA Champions League 2006-2007. That honour goes to, the Xbox 360 exclusive, Ultimate Team mode. Essentially the Ultimate Team mode allows you to collect and trade cards to build your own dream team with the eventual goal to earn a place in, and win, the UEFA Champions League. You'll begin by reading the instructions of how to play the mode and then you'll pick a name for your team and be given a starter pack of cards. Card types include players, team talks/training/fitness/healing/contract extension, staff, club info (includes logos, kits, stadiums etc.) and gameplay (which are cards that can be played at key moments during a match). During games you'll earn credits based on your performance and with these you'll be able to purchase booster packs of cards. As well as using the cards you can add them to your Collector's Album, discard them or trade them online for credits (assuming you have an Xbox Live Gold account). There are a lot of things to consider in Ultimate Team such as Team Chemistry and player morale etc. You can even play online using the team you've created in the Ultimate Team mode. The mode is surprisingly deep as well as being really addictive. It is easily the main attraction in the Xbox 360 version of UEFA Champions League 2006-2007. Surely this mode has to make it into FIFA 08?
In regards to how it plays UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 is very similar to FIFA 07. The AI has been improved somewhat though. You'll notice keepers are now more competent and on the higher difficulty level really takes some beating. AI teams are much more capable at putting up a rearguard action as their defensive qualities are significantly better here than in FIFA 07. The AI is also a little more ruthless in front of goal and you'll be made to pay for defensive errors most of the time. All things considered the AI in UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 is the best it's been in any EA football game on the 360 so far but one would hope that FIFA 08 builds on what's here rather than simply leaving it as it is.
Graphically UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 on the Xbox 360 is practically identical to last year's FIFA 07. The frame rate does seem slightly better here, which good to see. Player likenesses are a real mixed bag though with some players looking fairly accurate whilst others are just plain hideous and slightly ghoulish. The default camera view allows a nice spacious view of the pitch although it doesn't allow you much chance to appreciate the graphical detail of the player models (which as we've just mentioned isn't much of a problem in some cases).
UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 shouldn't 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. There's also an icon that's displayed to show when the advantage rule is being played which is similar to what we've seen in previous Pro Evolution Soccer titles. The game manual could have been better in all honesty. The Ultimate Team mode could have done with far more explanation than the game manual (or the included tutorial messages) provide, which is disappointing given how enjoyable the mode is.
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. However, the Ultimate Team mode is a great inclusion and one that I hope will make it into FIFA 08. I would certainly be disappointed if it didn't.
The Xbox 360 version of UEFA Champions League 2006 - 2007 is definitely the best version to go for if you have the choice. It may play a little too similar to FIFA 07 for some people but the Ultimate Team mode is a great inclusion that will keep you busy for months.