Bucking the trend of releasing completely stripped back versions of their game to temporarily satiate the clamor of the Euro 2012 tournament market, EA Sports instead chose to release the Euro 2012 special comes in the form of a download-only expansion pack. It makes sense, given the scope for a lower price point, and the initial promise of being able to play as every team from the tournament looked a good draw, especially given the sweet comfort offered in virtual reality when the reality of our own tournament will be as stark and disappointing as ever.
Developers occasionally use the opportunity of the tournament special releases to try out new things, in anticipation of the next main release as with EA Sports’ surprisingly good World Cup 2012, but it clearly isn’t the case here. The gameplay, visuals and general experience of the game remain exactly the same as in FIFA 12, which of course isn’t a terrible thing, given our own 4.5 star review, and it’s probably best to defer to that review’s evaluation of the main game…FIFA 12 is excellent. It is not only one of the best examples of football on a console, but it is also testament to what can be done when you don’t sit back and simply accept that you’re the best.
Take away the new defensive system and [the game] would still be a huge improvement over 11. The presentation, the graphics, the impact engine, the ball-physics, the online upgrades and the overall fluidity have all been highly upgraded. But with the defensive controls on top of that, EA have made a game that replicates football better than any other game previously.
So really, this review can only deal in the changes made: the introduction of kits, stadia and teams of the tournament, which are all introduced with precision and typical slickness. And there’s no major complaint with what is there. But almost immediately you hit the biggest stumbling block for this expansion pack – as we reported previously, only 24 teams are actually licensed, which is a ridiculously low amount for EA Sports, for who this feels like an alien problem. EA Sports are supposed to be all about slick, perfectionist presentation, honed over years and numerous franchise additions, and this revelation is completely at odds with that dependability factor.
Perhaps to distract from the license limitations, EA Sports have included some new game modes – and chiefly Expedition, which allows the player to build a rag-tag team of their own, and play against international opponents, picking up their best talents as you progress, in a manner as defiant of international qualification rules as Jack Charlton’s 1994 Republic of Ireland World Cup squad. The mode is a little complex, but you can very easily play without knowing absolutely every in and out of the rules, and those fastidious enough to really care can consult the explanatory video. There’s also a couple of online modes to supplement the main tournament and Expedition modes, but they’re far from revolutionary, which might have scored the pack a few more points.
It isn’t terrible by any means, because the FIFA 12 foundation is so strong, but the expansion pack has that major licensing issue that will cause some disgruntlement among fans, and there are some serious questions whether the content is really worth the price.
The FIFA 12 Euro 2012 expansion pack is available to download now.