For many, the closest you’ll ever come to playing football for your country at any international level is the stand that you’ll be sitting in. The next best thing is to represent your country via any means possible, and for the majority of the people reading this review, that means in a video game. Every two years the opportunity arises and usually that also means your wallet is going to take an unexpected hit. Not such a big hit this time however.
For the first time ever, EA have decided against releasing a standalone title for the European Championships, taking place in Poland and Ukraine this year. For 1800MS Points (around £15) this content can be downloaded straight from the marketplace onto your Xbox and playable through your copy of FIFA 12. That obviously means you require to have FIFA 12 to play this new game, but chances are that’s a given for any football gaming fan. So what exactly do you get for your money?
Upon downloading the UEFA EURO 2012 Poland-Ukraine pack and entering through the normal FIFA 12 setup you are met with a new lush looking menu that gives you a few different options to begin your Euro 2012 adventure. As expected you can choose from one of the 53 UEFA registered national teams and attempt to bring European glory back to your home country - a rare thing for a Scotsman and I suppose Englishman too. These games are just against the AI so you can decide the level of difficulty.
If you’re like me and prefer playing online, then the online championship is the place to be. Represent your country on Xbox LIVE and try to take down the European championship. I’ve yet to take home glory but I have made several Cup Final appearances. Once I was beaten again in the final I then moved onto EA’s new game mode, Expedition.
Expedition is a brand new game mode that has a unique twist. The aim of this game mode is to beat all 53 European teams with your own custom created team. To begin with, your team consists of your favourite player or virtual pro and a selection of reserve players taken from any of the national teams. As you progress you can build your own custom team and eventually have a team filled with star-studded players. Beat a specific team once and you’ll be offered a reserve player from that team, beat that team twice and a substitute will be offered. If you’re persistent enough to beat a team three times you’ll be offered a first team player from that country to join your team. Without complicating things too much, beating a national team unlocks roads to other countries and this allows you to play countries that have better players. You’d rather have a team of Spaniards than a team of Lithuanians after all.
In terms of gameplay the game pretty much runs on the FIFA 12 engine. There's nothing that immediately stands out however, once you go back to the original FIFA 12 game you can notice subtle differences. Euro 2012 seems a little slower in the build up of play and a little harder to glide past players, unless you are on the ball with someone extremely speedy like Ashley Young, Theo Walcott or Gareth Bale.
Woops, the latter was a lie, as you can't actually play as Gareth Bale. You also can't play as Craig Bellamy for that matter either, as surprisingly, and most shockingly, super licence rich EA do not, I repeat, do not hold all the licenses for the European teams. The majority of the big teams are licensed, and I include Scotland in that, however Welsh fans will be extremely disappointed. Instead of Gareth Bale running down the wing its Gareth Belth running down the wing.
And that’s really all there is to it. As a customer I much prefer the downloadable content route in replace of the £39.99 standalone title. The content is perfect to get you in the mood for the European championships, and for 1800MS Points your wallet won’t take such a big hit. If you’re a fan of FIFA 12 and enjoy immersing yourself in the cup atmosphere, get yourself out to the shops onto the marketplace and download this content. Right, I’m off to win Scotland’s first ever Major trophy.