Review: FIFA12 – UEFA Euro 2012

In times gone by, EA have released specific boxed retail games to coincide with the big football tournaments and have, in various measures, been slated for it. With this year’s Euro 2012 DLC plugging into an existing retail copy of FIFA12, people have got a bit uptight about that as well. It seems EA can’t really win. Well, they can, but I’ll come to that later.

Euro 2012 hooks into the main menu of FIFA12, giving you an easy extra option from within the same game. As you’d expect from a piece of DLC it uses the in-game engine that all FIFA players have grown to know and as such plays every bit as beautifully as it did when we reviewed it a few months back. If you want to know about the visuals, the playability and all that stuff then head over to that review first and come back here when you’re done. The only thing that’s different in terms of general gameplay is the commentary, which is billed as having all new and exclusive bits of talky talk recorded especially for Euro 2012. That may well be the case, but there are quite a few occasions when it feels a lot quieter than a standard game of FIFA12, almost as if they didn’t quite record enough and had to space it out to make life a bit less obvious.

Ah well, let’s take a look at what £16 (yes, really) will buy you. Obviously you’re not really getting any gameplay updates or fancy new things like that, it’s just a new mode in an existing game as already explained. So for £16 you’d be hoping for quite a bit, and on the surface that appears to be the case. There are 53 teams based on the entrants into Euro 2012, but in a nod towards Pro Evo’s lack of licensing, only 29 of these are fully licensed. And Ukraine, who are part-hosting the tournament, isn’t one of them. Bizarre. This leads to a series of blatantly tweaked and slightly stupid sounding player names which is nothing at all like what we’re used to from EA’s footy titles. But there are a few things that are far more worthwhile if you can ignore the sometimes wonky names.

Expedition mode is the most obvious time-killer in the mix, letting you start off as a team of pub-team rejects apart from the captain who you can pick from any player in the game. It’s surprisingly tough to decide whether to pick a top quality goalscorer who might not get many chances provided, a great keeper to keep the score down or something else in between. Whatever you choose, you’ll pick your group and play the other teams in that group. Beat them and you’ll be offered one of their reserves, substitutes or first team players (depending on if it’s the first, second or third time you’ve beaten them) and the option to build roads to other countries in order to play games against them as well. It’s an idea taken from FIFA Street, and is painfully addictive despite being extremely difficult in the early stages.

Elsewhere you can obviously play through the Euro 2012 tournament, but the twist is the ability to play this online as well. Doing so will pitch each game against a random online opponent instead of against the AI, which as usual gives each game a far more unpredictable and nerve-jangling experience. There are also a series of challenges similar to those found in the main FIFA12 game, which does make you wonder why most of them couldn’t have just been added to that roster of challenges. They’re good fun, but won’t keep you for long.

Germany celebrate... just off screen is probably a pile of sobbing England players...

So there’s a reasonable amount to do, but the tournament mode and challenges could have easily been closely replicated in the main FIFA12 game, so you’re essentially paying £16 for the expedition mode and all of the teams, nearly half of which don’t contain genuine information. And therein lies the problem. If this was sat around the £10 mark it might be justifiable, and I applaud EA for changing their release model for this year’s big tournament to a lower cost DLC instead of releasing a whole new (but not new) game. It’s certainly a far more attractive prospect if you already own FIFA12 – you’d be properly annoyed if you paid £40 for this – but considering what you’re getting it doesn’t feel like the price has changed quite in relation to the content. Going about things in this manner, EA can’t win. A new game would have been criticised, and here I am (with many other reviewers) criticising it as DLC. But EA could win people round with some sensible pricing, and hopefully the response to this release will be enough to make them realise what gamers are after.

Despite what I’ve said, if you’re excited about Euro 2012 and like a bit of FIFA then chances are this is a worthwhile purchase. You might feel a bit miffed at the price tag, but there’s enough to mean you’re not totally disappointed. But those of you who just enjoy FIFA and think this could be something a bit different will probably feel outright cheated by what’s here. With a lower price tag or a bit more content this would have grabbed a higher score, but as it is it has to sit in the “above average” camp.

Reviewed on PS3

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