International competitions always seem such a strange thing to me ? you support a team, praying that they’ll win, solely based on the nationality of the players in said team. With club football, and other sports, you choose a team to support usually because: A) they’re the local team, B) you like the players within that team, or C) the team is extremely successful, so you like to support a winning team [glory hunter!].
Usually, I find most people support teams due to option ‘B’ ? so it seems strange to me that so many people come out in their millions, to support their national squad, just because they share the same nationality. I mean, I know loads of English people who are complete idiots ? it doesn’t mean if you stick them all in a football team, I’ll support them.
On this note, I come to Euro 2004: European football’s biggest prize. They came out in there millions, and so many went away disappointed?unless you’re Greek of course, then you’re over the moon that your country won. The furore surrounding the competition has died down now, but the merchandise still remains; so here I come to EA SPORTS’ latest cash in, UEFA EURO 2004 for Playstation 2. As I said, they came out in their millions to support their national squad, and I’m sure EA were hoping they would come in their millions too, to buy this bland little update.
Firstly, it has to be said that UEFA Euro 2004 is virtually the same as EA’s FIFA 2004: from the game mechanics, to the graphics, to the game physics; they’re almost identical. The differences between the titles are minimal. Firstly, it seems EA have updated the graphics engine just a tid-bit, with certain player models looking more life-like, whilst others look much the same as they did in FIFA 2004. The game also features a new soundtrack, but, to be honest, it’s quite bland and a step back from the extremely cool soundtrack featured in FIFA 2004. Also, EA have included new moves such as bicycle kicks, and diving headers. When performing a corner kick, these new moves really come into effect, and they look extremely cool.
Obviously, the single player campaign has been changed to suit the EURO 2004 motif; choosing national squads, opposed to the club teams seen in FIFA [obviously!]. The game begins at the qualification stages of EURO 2004…you can’t attempt to win the tournament without first having earned entry to the tournament?
The qualification matches are relatively simple, and the bulk of the challenges will arise when playing the actual tournament. However, whilst controlling the action on the pitch, you have to manage player emotions off it. This is a new feature to the FIFA franchise, player emotions ? certain players might have certain expectations: to be part of the first team line up, to at least be used as a substitute, etc. If these expectations are not met, their morale might go down, and they might become unhappy. If they’re unhappy, they won’t perform well. However, if their morale is good, they’ll play better.
This is quite a good feature for the series, and it adds a different side to the game. However, it doesn’t feel like a major addition, just a little gimmick which doesn’t affect the proceedings all that much. The single player campaign, whilst being quite good, only lasts for so long; it’s not that satisfying to repeatedly win the same tournament over and over again.
Besides the new morale feature, there are a few new modes to UEFA EURO 2004. Firstly, the new Fantasy mode is quite a good addition. You choose a fantasy football team, selected from a list of all the major players featured in today’s game. The computer also chooses its own fantasy team, and then the two teams face off in a match. It’s surprisingly difficult, even on the amateur setting, to play against a team where every opposing player is technically superb, and it’s both challenging and fun to pitch your ‘dream team’ against another amazing squad.
The other new mode is the situation mode. You choose a certain situation that occurs in a match, i.e: you’re 2-0 down against Holland , or you’re playing against France with only ten men, or you’re 1-0 down with only five minutes left on the clock, etc. From the chosen situation, you then try to go on and win the match; it proves a nice little distraction from the main game, and can be a great challenge. From being 2-0 down against Holland (playing as the Czech Republic), I was able to claw my way back into contention by half-time: 2-2. Then, I went on to win the match 3-2 with a stunning goal. It’s a great feeling to come back from such a huge deficit, and so the situation mode can prove to be quite satisfying.
Besides the single player campaigns, and the new modes, UEFA EURO 2004 features the familiar multiplayer option; though it’s no different from previous FIFA offerings. Up to four players can join a match, playing against one another or cooperatively. It’s typical multiplayer action: two sides, up to four players, one match.
While being fun and, at times, extremely competitive, it’s no different from the multiplayer action seen in countless other football games, and seems exactly the same as the multiplayer aspect in FIFA 2004.
A few other improvements over FIFA 2004 should be mentioned. The free kick system is a lot easier to use, and this is certainly welcomed considering the sometimes impossible free kick system in FIFA 2004. At times, the presentation looks a little sharper too, thanks to some nice little camera angels before corner kicks. However, these new additions are fairly insignificant when assessing the overall package.
Though it’s a fun game to play, UEFA EURO 2004 is just a glossed reincarnation of FIFA 2004. If you already own FIFA 2004, then there is nothing here to warrant a purchase. Nothing. But, if you’re new to the genre, and are thinking of buying a football game, then opt for Winning Eleven 8, or FIFA 2004. Both offer more in-depth single player campaigns, and have a longer lifespan. This, however, is not to say UEFA EURO 2004 is a god-awful game. No…it’s an enjoyable game and, if I had never played FIFA 2004, I would probably be extremely happy with it. But, the game is too similar to FIFA 2004, to either recommend, or see it as anything other than a cheap attempt by EA to cash in.