If the unison of Poland, the Ukraine, and the greatest sport in the world fail to stir up anything in your loins, then you should probably stop reading. For everyone else, it should conjure up visions of some of the biggest stars in football: Torres, Ronaldo, Rooney, Balotelli, Nasri, and Gomez all in an inter-continental tussle for supremacy.
The EURO 2012 is a footballing highlight, placed perfectly in between each FIFA World Cup tournament. It brings together some of the sport’s power houses in a magical month of madness – it’s just a shame it’s all happening at around 7am in the morning over here in New Zealand.
Unlike previous years, where EA released a physical ‘in-store’ title for the South Africa World Cup or the 2008 Austria/Switzerland EURO, this time around FIFA ’12 owners will need to download an add-on pack to get in on the action. Clocking in at around 657MB and 1800 MS points ($36), this DLC is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s convenient to most gamers as a relatively quick download and is only a fifth of the cost of a full retail game. But on the other hand, the amount of scope is limited to within the FIFA ’12 framework. Remember that EA’s South Africa World Cup 2010 title introduced a lot of gameplay features that are still present in the latest FIFA.
Personally I think this DLC (at the right price) is the ideal way to go. FIFA ’12 owners waiting for the next annual iteration to kick-off wouldn’t be keen to splash out $100 in between games. With a tournament that lasts a month (outside of the qualifying matches), the buzz around the EURO will fade quickly, especially over here in NZ (where local news outlets are only covering half of the action anyway).
With this download, fans can play as their favourite team and rewrite history as the tournament comes to a close. For those disappointed that France and the Netherlands have been knocked out, this is your chance to bring home the Henri Delaunay cup. The EURO 2012 add-on also includes every UEFA qualifying team, so any Scots out there can turn up at the Finals, instead of Denmark.
However there are some glaringly obvious omissions with some of the smaller European teams. Wales, for example, doesn’t seem to be within EA’s FIFA license, and eagle-eyed supporters will notice that Gareth Bale has been strangely replaced with Gareth Belth. Even with my limited knowledge of European rosters I noticed a number of teams with incorrect names due to licensing issues. A surprising and disappointing omission considering the authenticity of previous FIFA releases.
While the gameplay is exactly the same as FIFA ’12, players will be presented with new visual themes and menus that tie in with the lavish branding of the tournament. All of the European stadia, player rosters, and unique playing kits are on hand, complete with the colourful EURO 2012 atmosphere of flying confetti, fireworks, and official sponsors. Because of the Eurocentric subject matter, this DLC also sees the return of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend on commentating duties. The end result turns FIFA ’12 into a different machine, even if it’s just primarily a cosmetic update.
On top of a slick tournament mode that encompasses all of the UEFA EURO 2012 and new challenges, there is also one new mode that is just so bizarre it deserves a mention. It’s titled Expedition Mode and seems to take the concept of European dominance to a whole new (scary) level. It should probably be called Conquest mode and feels like the developers at EA Canada have been playing far too much of the board game Risk.
The concept is you pick the UEFA country of your choice and you are allocated a team of unknown footballers. With your random squad of wannabes, you take on your European neighbours in a tournament just like the UEFA qualifiers. However in Expedition mode, if you win a game, you get to steal a player from your opponent’s team. The end result is, after numerous games of human poaching, you’ll end up with an army of European superstars playing under your nation’s banner. It’s complete madness, but it still makes for an enjoyable experience as a ‘bonus’ mode.
While 1800 MS points is a considerable payment for an add-on, EA are currently having a 25% off sale for the UEFA EURO 2012 pack on XBOX Live. At this cheaper price, it makes this a semi-worthwhile download for true fans considering how far through the tournament we already are. The EURO only rolls around every 4 years and it’s fun to play alongside with a controller in your hand (instead of a pint). But for casual FIFA fans, we suggest saving your money for the full-fledged FIFA ‘13 release around late September this year.