FIFA Euro 2012 Review

by 12buckmafia

Hello XBox Addicts.  It's been a long time.  We meet under some very tumultuous sports gaming circumstances.  The grass was much greener for certain companies at this point 3 months ago, but a series of changes have meant that 2K will no longer be making baseball games, and THQ will no longer be making the UFC franchise.

But that's not why we're here.  Once every four years, the soccer world in Europe (and soccer fans around the world) collaborate for soccer's Euro tournament to crown the champions of that continent for the next four years.  In the past, Electronic Arts has taken to making standalone titles, however, this time around opted for an expansion pack for FIFA 12.  You can look at that one of two ways:  Either you purchased FIFA 12, and it's only $20 for you to purchase the Euro expansion, or, you're the gamer who only purchases the tournament titles, and now you have to pay full price for FIFA 12, and then buy the Euro expansion pack.  Making this tougher is the obvious fact that you must have an internet connection to purchase, so soccer fans without Live are left in the dust.

However, this is an interesting experiment into the idealogy of fully digital downloadable content, and further more, a cheaper distribution channel for a game that was largely just a plug-in of the previous year's FIFA title, or an upcoming spoiler to the features of the new game.

All finalist nations are included, as well as 37 others encompassing the European Union of Football.  EURO's tournament is only comprised of sixteen teams total, and you'll quickly a surprising list of nations that did not make it to the show, including Switzerland, Serbia and Scotland.  Licensing trouble has dictated that only 20 of the 53 nations have licensed kits, with just under double those having licensed players.

The rosters were updated for Euro as well, which you can choose to go through with, or not to download once you've patched. The roster for the FIFA 12 national teams were almost a year old by the time the game was released, so bearing this in mind, it may be best to update now. As a supporter of the Swiss Nationals, this was a particularly crippling roster update, losing all of star forwards of the last Euro (they retired or resigned from the national team,) including Alexander Frei, whose national cap career was never the same after World Cup 2006.

There's no shortage of modes in this. The exhibition mode is still available, where you can square off head to head with any of the 53 Euro qualifying participants. Included here are also the challenge modes, "Story of the Finals" which returns from World Cup 2010 South Africa, and a new Expedition Mode. The ever popular "Captain your Country" mode is not included in lieu of Expedition, however, given that the similar World Tour mode in FIFA Street was very well done, and bore a lot of similarities
to CYC, it shouldn't come as a big loss.

The challenge mode has been fully adapted for Euro 2012's scenarios. As you progress from day to day in the Euro tournament, so too does the Challenge mode. In many cases, you will be playing out some of that day's tournament qualifying scenarios. Beating challenges will gain XP toward your EA player profile, and levelling that up. If you are familiar with FIFA 12's challenge mode, it's essentially the same thing.

The Story of the Finals again is something you will have seen before in previous games, however, with a different set of circumstances tailored specifically for the Euro 2012. If you are unfamiliar, you are presented with a scenario that has happened before, and a solution. You are then given to the end of the game to fulfill that solution. It's another fun mode for those that like to take on a challenge rather than just sitting down to play, especially since EA has toned down how ridiculous they are to make them beatable (The Fiji scenario from World Cup 2006 to this day remains one of the most unfair sporting game challenges ever.)

Then there's the Euro tournament. Much like any other tournament format, you choose your country, and then your main objective is to win it all. However, unlike previous years, there's no choice to go through qualifying and then start the finals (the start of the tournament.) You simply pick your nation and the tournament begins. For some, it may be an annoyance having gotten used to being to choose in past games. For others, the expedition mode may suffice.

Expedition Mode is a bit of a twist on the Captain Your Country mode, and is very similarly set up like World Tour from FIFA Street. In it, you begin as your FIFA 12 created player representing one of the Euro countries, and build your winning squad from there, taking them into Euro 2012 to compete for the championship. This is probably the mode that I would classify as the "hook" toward purchasing this update. It's something completely new to the FIFA franchises, and if you didn't get to experience it in FIFA Street, it's a new twist on your game. You can still customize a bit and "captain" your squad in a way. It's a neat sneak preview into what you could see incorporated into FIFA 13, or in essence, your best way to play the World Tour from Street on a more serious pitch, since you can't just flick the soccer ball into the net with a 360 kick using a couple of bumper button presses.

There have been a lot of criticisms about the price of the addon (1800 points, which can be anywhere from $22-30 depending on where you are and how you buy your Xbox points,) but you do have to take into account that Euro is essentially providing you with approximately 20-30 hours of additional gameplay, and unlike previous installments, you aren't paying for a full priced commercial like you had to before. On the other hand, the game often lives up to its expansion pack, or DLC moniker. Graphical
glitches abound left and right, for one. The game's graphics will often hang, or pan improperly. The crowds look blocky at times, and don't interact as well as the last few international titles.

I'm going to skip my usual rating scheme this time out since it is, for all intents and purposes a DLC pack, and I already reviewed FIFA back at release. Euro 2012 boasts a hefty price for an add-on, and theoretically, it does deliver. I mean, 8 new stadiums, 20-30 hours of gameplay and a mode new to the FIFA franchise does a good job to justify the price tag. However, you can't help but feel you're just playing FIFA in a new stadium. It has its own presentation and graphics, however, without a massive commentary update or music to break the "old hat" threshold, it just feels like you've been shuttled into a different room to the same game, and that's what will end up hurting this release more than the fact the price tag, or the fact that it somewhat alienates a segment of their gamers.Still, kudos to EA for realizing it wasn't necessary to make this a full priced release and trying something new, though I'm sure those without Xbox Live or their systems connected online will heavily disagree.


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