Ooh, we like that. Having just loaded up UEFA for the first time, we’re greeted by the stirring operatic Champions League theme so familiar for people who actually watch UK soccer, at least. God bless the FIFA series and its license-happy handlers - this is powerful stuff. Electric memories of pre-match excitement are stirred, atmosphere heavy and anticipation high. We suddenly need a bottle of Amstel.
In reality, of course, we know that our excitement has everything to do with the might and majesty of the Champions League itself – the most passionately followed and angst-ridden soccer championship that’s not called the World Cup – and very little to do with EA’s hardly-anticipated yet full-priced update of the barely six months-old FIFA 07. But still, our initial shivers make us think that another game trading on the thrills and spills of the Champions League might not be such a bad idea after all, especially if it were to come packaged with some innovative new features and gameplay improvements.
Which, predictably, is the major sticking point - it doesn’t really bring any of these to the table, significant or otherwise. Granted, the visuals are better than ever, but otherwise little has changed on the pitch since FIFA’s last romp. Kicking the ball around feels sluggish and leaden - there’s never any zip on the passes or urgency to the play. Worse still the shooting - which was coming together in 07 - again seems highly automated. The power and direction of your attempts on goal have little to do with whatever buttons you press - the ball just takes off. It’s miles away from the nuanced control offered by Winning Eleven.