For the fourth major international football tournament in a row, EA has secured the official licence to produce the tie-in game. And for the fourth time in a row, the company has produced a title that bears more than a passing resemblance to a game published just six months before.
UEFA Euro 2004 is little more than a slightly tweaked FIFA 2004. Now for those who didn’t buy the FIFA game, that’s quite a good thing, as the 2004 edition was widely regarded as a good step forward for the enduring franchise. For those who did shell out just a few months ago, however, you have absolutely no reason in the world to buy UEFA Euro 2004. Honestly.
To demonstrate what we mean, let’s discuss those tweaks. The biggest addition is the inclusion of a dynamic morale system. Now every player in your squad has a morale rating. When their morale is high, they play better (demonstrated by, for instance, more accurate passing), and when it’s in the gutter, they play worse.
Before each match you get a digest of changes in morale, which can be affected by factors such as club form, getting a booking, defeat in the last game or just, it seems, being a big baby sulk. We made that last one up. Unsurprisingly, this morale system, while a neat addition in principle, makes pretty much no difference to how the game plays.
Other changes then? Er, this is where we start to struggle. There are a couple of new skill moves, which you’ll more than likely rarely use, and a few more options here and there. Plus the graphics have undergone their traditional evolution, of course. But that genuinely is pretty much your lot.
So, we’re going to offer you two conclusions here. If you bought FIFA 2004, then skip the next paragraph and jump to the last line.
If you didn’t shell out for the last FIFA game, there’s little doubting that UEFA Euro 2004 is a strong game. It drips with official licensing, tries valiantly to recreate the looks of the various players (even if it makes half of them look like vampires), but crucially, it’s extremely playable. Sure, the tie-in to the tournament limits longevity – for a full club season, FIFA 2004 will be your better choice (or better still, give the latest version of Pro Evolution Soccer a whirl). Yet this is still a fine example of EA’s playability-and-presentation experts at work.
You bought FIFA 2004? Then forget this.
Company: Electronic Arts