First off, don’t worry - England’s absence from this year’s European Championships is rectifiable. UEFA Euro 2008 allows you to play through qualification, or just jump straight into the finals - with the correct team line-up or your own selection. So you can take JT, Lumpard and the rest to glory after all, until their egos are so gigantic they can’t stand up under the weight. Then there’s an international take on FIFA 08’s Be a Pro mode called Captain Your Country, which allows you to take a created player from B International obscurity all the way to European glory. But despite all this, and no matter how many times they see their team lift the virtual trophy, England fans will no doubt experience pangs of sorrow playing Euro 2008.
What will also disappoint England supporters - and followers of any other team - is that once you look past all the official kits, pitches and logos, you’ll find the FIFA 08 game engine simulating the action, producing almost the exact same gameplay that disappointed us in the autumn. There has been one major change, though - the speed of the action has been increased so the ball can be played from one end to the other with more purpose. This prevents the action getting bogged down in midfield and so produces a slicker and more dynamic game of football.
What this increased pace can’t correct is the woolly, distant feel you get when playing, caused by the disparity between the actions you try to take and what actually happens. For instance, when you spot a winger’s run, you want the through ball to go outside or inside the opposition full-back - only for it to do neither and get easily intercepted by the defence. It’s not that we expect everything to go right in every attack, but we have to be able to tell why a particular pass was or wasn’t successful, or we’ll keep failing and feeling frustrated. UEFA - and indeed FIFA - offers no help in this regard.
This doesn’t mean EA should rip up everything and start again, though - Euro 2008 displays some impressive foundations to build on. For instance, there’s the player movement, the overall shape of the game (which isn’t as stretched as PES), and the glorious animation which looks natural and spontaneous. It’s for these reasons that EA are on the right path to make their football a success - even if UEFA Euro 2008 has only taken them a little way along it. Will FIFA 09 be the one to finally make the grade? We’ll see.
Apr 22, 2008