UEFA Euro 2004
You can watch football on about seven different television channels, there are tons of guests in talk-shows explaining their enthusiasm on the latest matches, tons of papers and magazines are bringing extra-long specials, radio-reports and even clothing is based around Euro 2004. But if after all that, you are still not satisfied you can play EA’s latest episode in football games. This is not a matter of a good or bad game because with all the know-how EA has collected with its FIFA serie this is bound to be a good one. The question is: is yet another football-game necessary?
The music is really great and so are the sound-effects. The commentators do their best not to repeat themselves and still give, at least for a layman like me, interesting opinions on your game. “Would it have been possible, he should have done that”, “this is how you play football”, so it really gets interactive. For example: you just scored and are watching the replay then they will draw lines on the screen from where the attack began and praise your tactical understanding. So, it does not constrain itself to “Ow what a magnificent goal”.
Graphics. Players are once again a little more realistic and the stadiums are awesome. Replays and intro’s are great especially combined with the national anthem of your favourite team it will lead to passionate and intense moments.
I want to give you a little marginalia though: during the intro or replays (and also during heavy attacks) my Playstation had a lot of trouble reading stuff from the disc so I asked for another copy which basically had the same problems: kicking around in my black box like a furious mad-man. Now, I already had similar problems, but not that disturbing with TIF 2002, so I thought it had to be my PS2 that was at the cause of these troubles. Therefore I went to some friends and relatives all owning a version of my preferred console and I noticed that with newer models these problems are far less noticeable. I just wanted to warn you if you buy it, don’t do it in a shop where they give you a hard time when you go back to trade it in or ask another copy. You can still play with the lag but now you know it is probably your console that can’t keep up. According to some professionals from EA this is a common problem with earlier versions of Sony’s black child.
Most important for me in a sports game is gameplay and as I mentioned before it is terrific. Especially the passing system is great because you can give a pass intuitively and in 99% of the times it will end up exactly where you wanted it to. This is very important because it can be quite frustrating if you can not get a pass arrive where you want it to. I do not want to bore you with all the other details, just take my word if I say that the playing-experience is as good as it possibly can get for the moment.
What I missed in previous games I played was the possibility to play only penalties which is nicely solved now. In fact there is even a situation mode where you can set up a game with the parameters you want: a ten-nil lead with only five minutes to play with France against the Faroer Isles if you want to be absolutely sure about a victory. Of course practice, tournament, play now and other standard modes are all available.
What surprised me a little bit was that there was no network play. They had already realised it with FIFA so why is there no one here? The only answer I could imagine was that they counted on everybody buying FIFA and they just released this one to pick up on the ‘hunger for more’ in these football-hyped days. Still, it is disappointing because if you just want to buy one soccer-game now, it is hard to decide which one to get. Euro 2004 is newer, but FIFA has online multiplayer and then there is of course This Is Football, also featuring network options!
Should you buy it? That question ought to be answered personally for everyone amongst you. I can not help you with that. This is a terrific game, with some new elements, great sound and graphics and the astonishing gameplay as we are used to get from EA. A quality product without doubt, but unless you are one of those hardcore football-junkies this is not a must-have if you have the latest TIF or FIFA because that would not be worth the money. I regret the lack of a multiplayer though, that would have made this game the end.