UEFA Euro 2008 PS3 / Xbox 360

UEFA Euro 2008 PS3 / Xbox 360
It would be very easy to call EA Sports a bunch of cynical opportunists because every couple of years, they manage to squeeze out an extra football title thanks to the occurrence of the World Cup or, in this case, the European Championships. Except for one little thing — UEFA Euro 2008 is not only a really good game it actually improves on the usual annual instalment in quite a few ways. Some of the changes are quite subtle — the graphics have been polished a little and there are some nice new animations — but the changes to the game play have tightened things up in general, making for a more satisfying experience.

It is with the "Captain Your Country” mode that things really come alive. It is an expanded version of "Be A Pro” mode from FIFA 08 and allows players to take command of their national team in a full-blown campaign, beginning with the early days of the qualifying stages. There is a lot more depth than before and it is the most compelling option in the game by far because of the challenge of competing against three other players to finally claim the captaincy.

With the focus firmly on the European Championships, there are also some intriguing scenarios to play through based on circumstances from the qualifying stages, such as duplicating Scotland’s famous victory against France. But it also means that the only teams on offer are the national teams, translating into a lot less choice, but most of the big names are here and the only real disappointment is the Dutch team being comprised of generic players rather than the actual team.

There are only a few reasons not to give UEFA Euro 2008 a glowing recommendation. First, the trade-off between the new stuff and the lack of non-national teams might not be enough for those who already own FIFA 2008. But the second reason is the more important one: this game is just a hint of what lies ahead. And so it might be worth waiting for FIFA 2009 to appear later this year. (EA Sports)