UEFA Euro 2008 PlayStation 3
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
With most European domestic seasons coming to a close, the focus of every football fan is beginning to turn to the UEFA European Championships. Of course it’s a bit of a blow that England won’t be involved but at least we will be able to watch the tournament without the pain of watching England perform like a Sunday afternoon pub league team. UEFA Euro 2008 is the official game of the championships and comes with all of the high polish and immaculate presentation that you would expect from an EA Sports title. Unfortunately though, the PlayStation 3 version also comes with some major performance issues that do their best to wreck the experience.
The game may be based around a single tournament, but UEFA Euro 2008 certainly has a lot to offer. Naturally, you can choose to play through the finals with one of the qualifying teams or you can take one of those who didn’t qualify and take them through the qualifying rounds in an attempt to make the finals in Austria and Switzerland. You can take on one of many scenarios, based on the qualifying rounds for Euro 2008 and the Euro 2004 finals, in the Story of Qualifying mode. You can play online either in a 16 team tournament or for one-off ranked and unranked games. If you fancy something different you can always try the Captain Your Country mode which allows you to create your own player and compete with three other players (either human or AI controlled) in a quest to become the captain of your favoured nation. You’ll earn experience points for your performance (for positional awareness, well timed tackles and so forth) that you can then use to upgrade your players attributes. As a single-player or multiplayer experience, Captain Your Country is a rather addictive mode. In short there’s more than enough here to keep you busy until FIFA 09 is released.
In terms of how the game plays, UEFA Euro 2008 is an improvement from what was on offer in FIFA 08. The game plays at a more realistic pace, the AI has definitely been improved and as a result it’s much more enjoyable as a single-player game than FIFA 08 was. The animations have been improved and the general flow of the game just feels more natural. Power bars have been added to make it much easier to gauge the strength of passes and shots and you can even carry out your own goal celebration which doesn’t add anything to game but I daresay some will be pleased with its inclusion. The weather also appears to have a more dramatic effect on how matches play. We were disappointed to see that Steve McClaren was the England manager but at least he wasn’t carrying a brolly during the matches when it was raining.
You may remember last year how quite a big issue was made of the fact that certain EA Sports titles on the PlayStation 3 suffered from performance problems. Madden NFL 08 for instance ran at 30fps instead of 60fps like the Xbox 360 version and the game couldn’t even manage to run at 30fps consistently. Peter Moore, President of EA Sports, even went on record saying that all future PlayStation 3 EA Sports titles wouldn’t have performance issues. Unfortunately this hasn’t turned out to be the case. Only the PlayStation 3 version of UEFA Euro 2008 has arrived for review so it’s difficult to compare it with the other versions (although the 360 demo was a noticeably smoother experience compared to the PlayStation 3 demo) but it’s fair to say that it does suffer from some major slowdown at times and this is very disappointing even if it doesn’t manage to completely ruin the experience. Whilst the graphics are generally fine, the players still don’t look natural enough and there are times during those close-up cutscenes of the players and crowd where you’ll notice some rather ugly moments where players and the crowd just pop into view.
UEFA Euro 2008 is a decent experience for deaf gamers although there is some speech that isn’t subtitled. When you load up the game there’s a verbal only introduction to the ‘Battle of the Nations’ which deaf gamers will be oblivious to. The match commentary is also not subtitled, which isn’t much of a surprise to be honest. Aside from that there are no real problems. All of the important information is shown visually either through the use of text or icons so deaf gamers won’t have any real problems with the game.
If UEFA Euro 2008 is any indication, FIFA 09 is going to be something special. The game shows that the developers have continued to improve on the successful FIFA 08 formula and in every respect it plays a more realistic and satisfying game of football. It’s very disappointing that yet another PlayStation 3 EA Sports game has performance issues and it’s something I hope is sorted out for FIFA 09. As an official game of the UEFA European Championships, UEFA Euro 2008, frame rate issues aside, is impressive with the traditional high presentation values that EA Sports are famous for.