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UEFA Euro 2012 DLC: Review

When football is at its best there’s nothing better. Granted the thought of a goal-less draw between Bolton and Villa doesn’t set the heart racing, but watching Barcelona dominate their rivals is a joy to behold. It’s this excitement that keeps us coming back for more. If we hadn’t of just watched the end of the Premiership go down to the last 5 minutes of extra time we would have called that scenario over the top drama. But we did see it, and it was still hard to believe.

With Euro 2012 on the horizon football fans will be wet with anticipation in the hope that we will be entertained by the thrills and spills of the international competition that saw Gazza’s greatest goal and that infamous dentist chair celebration. As ever EA Sports are jumping on the opportunity to release a FIFA tie in. However this year it has been released as downloadable content, as opposed to the full game releases we have often be forced to buy for the full £40 price tag. We picked it up for £15.99 (or 1,800 MS points) to see what challenges lay ahead of Mr Hodgson.

The main attraction is of course the official UEFA Euro 2012 tournament. Any of the qualified sides can be chosen, and from there the competition begins. Picking England the three group stages began against France. The gameplay is the great FIFA experience we are used to. There are no additions to the control system, with the most notable features being cosmetic; official logos bookend the match, with newly recorded commentary setting the scene nicely. The experience of an international tournament is created very well as your team’s chances and star players are assessed both before and after kick-off.

Fancy taking Spain to the final?

However it’s clearly been a while ago since the commentary was recorded. Amongst the analogies and statistical comments was the praise for Terry as captain of England and Chelsea, just short of being called a saint. Clearly was written before the allegations of racial abuse. Whether Terry will even appear in Hodgson’s squad is yet to be seen. However EA Sports will update the team-sheets for every nation as they are announced.

Progressing through the tournament is nothing new. If anything it is a very simple experience, with no demands on you to make choices in between games. Simple continue through a rather colourful menu as you are presented with facts about goal scorers and the latest scores until you reach the next match.

With the Football Manager – and before that the Championship Manager – experiences there was a sense of glory and personal achievement upon winning a tournament. After winning with England in this DLC however it was an anti-climax. A few fireworks, players jumping and holding the trophy are what we would expect. But it is presented so soullessly that it is just dull. I was hoping they might interview Rooney after his prolific seven goals throughout the Euros, or replay some of the team’s finer moments, or even share clips of the fans in their euphoria. Alas no. Just shallow jumping: nothing compared the real glee shown when Manchester City won the title.

Battle across Europe in Expedition mode: the most interesting feature in the DLC.

By far the best feature in the DLC is the Expedition Mode. Whereas the Euro tournament is dull after the first play through, the Expedition Mode has much more depth and playability. Starting with a team of lowly random players you are tasked with creating a nation and building a squad around one star captain: we chose reliable Rio to lead from defence. As you play nations across Europe each victory rewards you with a reserve player from the squad. If additional victories can be earned against that team you are rewarded with substitute players and finally individuals from the starting 11. Beating nations also opens up opportunities to face the more challenging opponents: you’ll start against Scotland before facing Spain for instance. You slowly amass an international team to conquer all of Europe. It’s addictive gameplay, and rewarding to see ‘State Koku’ gather the likes of Keane from Ireland, Mexes from France and the Dutch star van Persie. But due to the random nature of the rewards, it is down to luck how your team will develop, rather than tactical prowess.

But that is what FIFA has been about: fast, accessible gameplay, as opposed to a football version of chess. And Euro 2012 follows the trend: Simple and straightforward, if rather unspectacular. If the latest kits and squads is a must, or the Expedition Modes sounds like it is up your street than the DLC may be worth a look, but EA Sports have done very little to offer anything else apart from something to keep us playing until FIFA 13 hits shelves. At least it’s not £40.


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