While I am not a soccer fan, I have always loved soccer video games. The fact that goals are both tough to come by and deliver that rewarding feeling when scored has always made for a good time. UEFA Euro 2008 does a great job of delivering that same visceral feeling of scoring goals and playing the beautiful game while giving players greater control and more to do on the pitch than ever before.
UEFA Euro 2008 goes above and beyond the normal pass and shoot options found in most soccer titles and gives players the ability to apply modifiers, through the bumper and trigger buttons, to take the action to a new level. Differing the strength and level of lob and through passes makes the game fluid and adds to the level of control over the other nine players on your team. That control makes it less necessary, especially for those without knowledge of proper soccer tactics, to go one-on-ten with the other team.
On top of the obvious Tournament mode, the game offers the new Captain Your Country mode in which you assume the role of one player on a specific team and try to earn the captaincy of your team and lead your team to the trophy. The mode definitely adds new wrinkles to the game by making it sometimes necessary to play away from the ball and and control a section of the field on defense. The AI really shines in this mode as the play that you would normally call on your own, such as a lobbed through pass or a quick give-and-go, is often done automatically without having to force the issue by calling for the ball. The mode is also excellent for playing with a friend or three because there is always something up for grabs, even in a blowout game.
This game is not just all about being more technical and complicated. The game features a couple of fun new additions to the series. The first is the addition of special dribbling moves which can be performed using the right analog stick. These moves, such as a flipping the ball over your, and a defender’s, head to get to the goal are not easy to pull off and add a risk/reward element to the game. The other new addition is the ability to perform user controlled celebrations after a goal. While not adding much to actual gameplay, it does feel good to have your player perform a dive on the grass after a hard fought goal.
UEFA Euro 2008 does a great job of bringing together the technical preciseness and fun of a real soccer game like no soccer game before it. Being able to control almost all the action, and feeling like scoring a goal is a true accomplishment, comes across immediately. If you’re a fan of the beautiful game, or even if you’re not, you’ll be in for real treat with this game.