UEFA Euro 2008

Here’s the thing: EA’s UEFA Euro 2008 is almost certainly the best football game ever to grace a console. From subtle improvements to the way the game flows to remarkable advances in presentation, this is a wonderful example of what PS3 owners should want from the beautiful game – the mechanics are unmatched and the feeling of immersion is outstanding, so why isn’t this another 10/10 from TSA?

It’s simple: as brilliant as it is, there’s an unshakeable feeling that you’re only going to be playing this for a couple of months. It’s not just that FIFA 09 is presumably just around the corner, as this is a common issue with all these ‘mid-season’ releases (see: Road To The World Cup), but that EA themselves have placed at least one time-limiting cap on what we consider one of the game’s main draws: Battle of the Nations.

Battle of the Nations is a smart new idea that essentially routes all of your successes (for any team) through your favourite country. Proud Scotsman? Then pick Scotland as your Nation when you first boot the game and no matter which team you play as from there on in, all your points (gained from goals, wins etc) will be added to Scotland’s global tally, polled from gamers around the world. Brilliant idea, but the whole thing ends during the Summer, and after that the feature is dead.

Another thing to notice is that EUFA Euro 2008 plays very similarly to last year’s FIFA 08, which is by all means no bad thing, but whilst the positive incremental upgrades reinforce this title as the best simulation of football you can buy the differences are minor for the most part and some gamers might struggle to justify the full price of admission for what are relatively small tweaks to the core game.

It’s also somewhat cut-down in terms of teams, with this game not holding the official FIFA license EA have obviously only including international teams, and only those from Europe. Thankfully those countries that didn’t make it into the finals proper are still included in the game, so don’t worry about not being able to play as Rooney as he’s here and looking as realistic as ever. The visuals throughout are quite superb, with special attention to the animations and incidental details getting the most attention. The framerate isn’t perfect, but it’s perfectly functional and only really slows down when you’re using the fully zoomed out camera.

There’s the obvious full complement of local and online game modes, but the best new option is the Captain Your Country mode. This takes you from the lowly ranks of the B team right through to participating in friendlies and then hopefully progressing to ultimately captain the A team, with rivalries amongst the other players to keep you on your toes. This, and the ‘Be A Pro’ mode change the normal side-on camera to something closer to a third person view, and the way the camera focuses and shakes as you sprint for the goal is very akin to the roadie run in Gears of War – a stunning effect.

Sound is also well covered, with Martin Tyler and Andy Townsend providing the commentary and a full complement of sampled crowd chants and player shouts rounding off the presentation, which is slick and intuitive throughout. The decision on whether this is an worthwhile purchase depends on whether you have to have the very latest game or not – it is the best football title we’ve played since launch, but it’s also clearly a filler between FIFA 08 and 09.

We can’t account for your love of football (and the size of your wallet) but we can guarantee that footy fans will have a blast with Euro 2008.