Champions League game goes all Pokemon

Friday 12 January 2007
EA's Champions League spin-off, out in time for the culmination of the real-life tournament on 23 March, will feature a curious new card system, to compliment regular online match play.

Only available in the Xbox 360 version, Ultimate Team mode will enable players to create a team by picking virtual cards that represent players, team staff and gameplay tactics. Also available are Staff Training, Morale, Fitness and Healing cards that are used to boost your team's prowess in online matches.

It's not really in the spirit of football, with one use of the cards being to give you a tactical advantage over your opponent mid-match or to improve the fitness and ability of your players, turning what should be a skill-based experience into a game of snap.

Above: Quick! Play the 'histrionic dive in the penalty box' card

As in any card-collecting pursuit, you can play 'got' and 'need' with other players online in order to collect the elusive cards needed to create your dream team. Or perhaps dream 'deck' is more appropriate.

It's certainly a creative way of adding new life to a game that is essentially an advanced version of the FIFA engine with the Champions League branding, but we can't help but feel it's going to give the Pro Evo faithful another reason to mock its rival for messing with the purity of football.

The PS2, PC and PSP versions of UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 won't feature the Top Trumps option and will play in the regular manner, including an option to take place in classic matches from the League's history with contemporary team's line-ups.