Game Review

FIFA 12: UEFA Euro 2012 Review

Over the last few decades football has strayed far from its working-class roots. Bleak rain-soaked terraces, pints of cloudy ale and half-time pies have slowly been replaced by generic stadia, overpriced continental lager and the dreaded prawn sandwich. It's become unreasonably expensive to attend top-flight matches. And supporting your nation at this year's Euro 2012 finals in Ukraine and Poland is beyond the means of most individuals. But even if you want to stay at home, and experience the competition from your sofa, controller in hand, you'll too have to pay a premium. UEFA Euro 2012 is DLC for best-selling FIFA 12, and costs 1800 MS points on Xbox LIVE and &#163;15.99/$25.99 on the PlayStation Store. Its high price-tag isn't necessarily a criticism, but inevitably it invites greater scrutiny of what content is on offer.<br/><br/>When it comes to gameplay, there's very little to say. It's FIFA 12, unaltered. If you're at all familiar with that game, there's nothing new to learn or get your head around. FIFA 12 is a great game, and avoided series stagnation by incorporating several new features this year and reinventing aspects of its gameplay, such as the way in which you defend. And it's all present and correct here, ensuring the gameplay experience is of the same high quality. So what are you actually getting when you download UEFA Euro 2012?<br/><br/><img src="http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/122/1221905/uefa-euro-2012-announced-20120329020013492.jpg" /><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>The real differences are superficial. What you're paying for, ultimately, boils down to a new lick of paint and a handful of game modes. Once downloaded, Euro 2012 appears as a new tab on FIFA 12's main navigation bar. Select it, and you'll tumble down the rabbit hole and emerge into a psychedelic world saturated by the tournament's official branding. Brace yourself, though &#x2013; it's dominated by a startling shade of magenta, which stains everything, like Ukrainian borscht, from the home screen to the constant scorecard. It's strikingly different, and more than a little garish when compared to FIFA's normally reserved and slick fa&#231;ade.<br/><br/> <br/><br/>Some of the graphical tweaks have been trumpeted as "spectacular presentation", but they really amount to little more than the addition of the tournament's 8 official stadia and the match atmosphere being ratcheted up a notch or two. But confetti canons and fireworks for the victors, and a few more unfurled flags, can't really communicate the carnival of a major international tournament. And most of these additions, though well-intentioned, fade once a match begins, and you soon find yourself playing a game of FIFA 12. Yes, the commentary may occasionally allude to your striker being in contention for the Golden Boot, and yes, the branding boards might have authentic sponsors now on them, but it's all veneer. The grain hasn't been touched.<br/><br/><img src="http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/122/1223542/uefa-euro-2012-20120424044153575.jpg" /><br/>England take on the Germans once again. Please, no penalties.<br/><br/><br/><br/>There are some more significant changes, it should be noted. The roster of international teams has been expanded. Every single UEFA nation is now present, including the likes of Wales and Israel who were absent from FIFA 12. (Although Wales's team is bizarrely populated by mispelled imposters, including G. Belth for Gareth Bale.)<br/><br/>Clearly, the addition of every nation has been done to make Euro 2012 appeal to even those whose national team didn't make the championship. This mainly comes into play in the DLC's main gameplay mode &#x2013; the Euro 2012 tournament itself. You can choose to play as any team in the competition, but if your team didn't qualify, they can easily be substituted for any nation that did. Out comes Spain; in goes Scotland. The mode is as straightforward as the competition itself: 3 group games and 3 knock-out games are all that stands between you and the coveted trophy. Injuries and cards are obviously more of a concern in a tournament situation. It's exactly what you'd expect it to be, and once you've lifted the cup, which is mildly satisfying, it's unlikely that you'll keep reliving the campaign.<br/><br/>Something a little bit different for the FIFA series is Expedition, in which you're confronted by what looks like a map of Europe, torn from the pages of a fantasy novel. But instead of dragons, here be repetitive games of football. You start out with a team composed of one player of your choice and a ragtag bunch of middling reserves drawn from low-ranking European nations. From within groups, you're able to 'attack' nations by playing a typical game of football. <br/><br/><img src="http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/122/1223542/uefa-euro-2012-20120424044153171.jpg" /><br/>All 8 official stadiums are included in the expansion pack..<br/><br/><br/><br/>The spoils of war are incremental: defeat a nation once, and you'll be offered one of their reserve team player; beat them again, and you can take one of their subs; win a third time, and you get the opportunity to snatch one of their starting eleven. But the rewards don't just improve the quality of your team; you also get the opportunity to build new roads across Europe, connecting you with previously-inaccessible nations. But if you lose games, the roads are sometimes destroyed, isolating your team and impeding your quest for European domination.<br/><br/> <br/><br/>The aim, of course, is to end up with a map of Europe threaded with a dense network of roads and the ultimate European dream-team. But perhaps the most baffling of prizes awarded for a victory is a 'mosaic' piece. Every team has 3 mosaic pieces to earn, each one a photo of that nation's team in action. To collect them all you have to play and win 159 games. It's a ludicrously-weak incentive to keep slogging away at Expedition mode, and it's almost unthinkable that anyone will persevere to the point of completion. It's really difficult to regard the mosaic gimmick as anything but cynical padding, and the same goes for Expedition mode itself. Although it may represent itself as a game of strategy and tactics, it's really not much more than a seemingly-interminable fixture schedule.<br/><br/><img src="http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/122/1223542/uefa-euro-2012-20120424044153889.jpg" /><br/>You can play as any of the 53 UEFA nations.<br/><br/><br/><br/>&#169;2012-04-24, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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